Here’s the place to give the Montbretia a good looking over – all our varieties lined up ready for inspection, from short to tall. Click to be redirected to the clicked variety in our online store
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Venus’. pre 1991. A relatively short montbretia (40cm) with flowers in a two tone red and warm yellow ( Outer perianth tube mandarin red, inner tepals buttercup yellow, tipped red ). A good reliable cultivar with fairly upright flowering stems that make an excellent show. Hot sunny spot; moist but with good winter drainage
1989. Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Dusky Maiden’ is one of the shorter varieties at just 60cm tall. The overall effect is muted and sober with sombre dark bronze leaves that set off beautifully the flowers which are orange, stained with distinct rust spots at the throat and ligtened with yellow veins down the centre of the petals and bright yellow stamens. Darker buds complete the picture.
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘George Davison’. A relatively short and lovely montbretia (40cm) with yellow starry flowers. It is also one of the first to flower.. This plant, carrying the name of the first significant breeder of Crocosmia in England, has a confused history. The plant we now grow is actually the original l ‘Norwich Canary’, a short cultivar in a warm rich orange yelow, opening form apricot buds. It is vigorous and free to flower. The original cultivar, now possibly lost, was introduced in 1900 ‘Golden Sheaf’ x (crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Golden Sheaf’) and was Large, early, golden yellow, 8-10 branched. Vigorous. 90cm. The plant now sold as ‘George Davison’ are actually the original ‘Norwich Canary’, a shorter cultivar in a warm rich orange yellow
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Carmin Brilliant’. A relatively short montbretia (40cm) with crimson starry flowers with yellow centre. Good clump forming variety. Hot sunny spot; moist but with good winter drainage. Introdued in 1950. AGM. This variety was previously wrongly sold by the Dutch trade as ‘James Coey’
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Buttercup’. A lovely compact Montbretia with good sized warm apricot-yellow flowers, 35mm across, which open flat. They are borne on shorter stems to 60cm. A rich shot of colour for the late summer garden. For sun or part shade. Introduced in 1995. A robust grower
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Babylon’. pre 1991. Extremely vigorous with large 6cm flowers. Rich red with a fine dark ring around a fine yellow eye. 80cm. Clumps of sword like foliage send up arching spikes of lily like flowers in mid-late summer. They enjoy full sun and moisture retentive but well drained conditions.
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Constance’. This variety has large warm orange flowers with lovely yellow centres. Each flower flares good and flat with broad petals, each darker on the reverse. Growth is vigorous with flowering stems to 2′ (60cm) high. They enjoy full sun and moisture retentive but well drained conditions. Introduced 1993
- Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Emily McKenzie’. A relatively short montbretia (35cm) with large flat flowers 6-7cm, a rich burnt orange opening wide and flat, each petal marked with a significant crimson blotch. Hot sunny spot; moist but with good winter drainage. Quite a distinctive growth pattern, tending to run more than clump. 1951. Flowers 6-7cm. Produces many flowers to the stem. FCC and AGM
If you’ll excuse the pun; a real star of a variety. At fully 10cm it has possibly the largest flowers of all of the crocosmias and they come in a really clean bright shade of tangerine that really shines out. the buds are darker and the centre paler. They are not only large but flat and held so that they look outwards rather than down. Grow it in areally sunny spot, but one that doesn’t dry out in the Summer to get the best out of it. Bred in 1910 by George Davison and still one of the best.
- Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. A large and startling montbretia. The foliage is tall and broad; the flowers a vivid glowing red, produced freely in late summer on great arching panicle. If you into unabashed red then this is the plant for you. One of the earliest of the Montbretia to flower. 1969 C. masoniorum x C.paniculata. early flowering, up to 4ft high. Intermediate between parents. Best in sun or part shade with some moisture. 120cm.
- Crocosmia ‘Emberglow’. 1970. Crocosmia potsii x Crocosmia paniculata. 90cm This is a tall and imposing crocosmia with strong upright form and flowers stems that branch and arch over at the top with rows of red trumpets arrayed each side. Flowers are produced in the form of C.potsii in a dark true red, one of the darkest. Sets seed readily – the seed heads making a lovely winter decoration.
Crocosmia, or Montbretias as they are colloquially known, are really valuable for adding warm red and orange tones into the summer border, a contrast in shape and form to the wealth of summer daisies in flower at that time. Given conditions where they are happy they can be rewarding and long lived. They retreat each winter to a corm – a swollen stem – each year producing new bulb like structure. Over the years these annual corms can pile up to form lengthy strings with the older corms having some role in providing nutrition to the youngest active corm. It is on account of this that the old practice of annual lifting of corms can be detrimental. Also old wisdom had you lift and replant corms late in the year, a practice that didn’t give the corms enough time to settle before winter.
Crocosmia are relatively easy to grow and it might seem that all Crocosmia are similar and require the same treatment. There is a universal desire for a warm spot in sun or dappled shade and a soil that is neither excessively heavy, nor boggy. However, a little study of the parent species can lead to a greater understanding of the condition individual varieties would really like. Several of the species are to be found growing in light woodland in the wild (C.aurea and C.potsii) or in damp grassland (C.paniculata). As a generalisation they come from environments which are moist for the growing season.
The varying hardiness of Crocosia cultivars can be attributed to the contribution the parents make to their makup. Varieties of Crocosmia potsii are considered the most cold hardy, with those of Crocosmia aurea being the least. Cold isn’t the only hardiness issue, Winter wet is also a factor, with Crocosmia potsii being exposed to a fair degree of moisture all year around in its native environment whilst other species such as Crocosmia pearsei needing a lot more exposure to warm dry conditions to be happy.
In the growing season, Crocosmia masoniorum likes it on the warm and dry side, tending to decline in rich moist soils. This contrasts with the requirement of Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora for a moist, rich warm spot to produce of its best. Cultivars of Crocosmia paniculata tend to be shy to flower in dry conditions.
If you live in an area where you need to lift Crocosmia corms against the winter cold, it is essential to keep them from drying out over winter. Store them in peat or shaving over winter to prevent them dessicating and when it comes to Spring plant them in cool conditions to allow them to rehydrate before shooting. Planting warm from a dry corm is a recipe for disaster.
The name comes from the Greek ‘krokos’ = saffron and ‘osme’ = smell, referring to the strong smell of saffron given off by the dried flowers when immersed in water.