Crocosmia, also commonly called Coppertips or Falling Stars, is a genus of plants in the Iris family that is native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa.

They are grown from corms, which grow into clumps that produce sword-like leaves and 1- to 2-foot spikes of tubular flowers that range from yellow to orange to bright red. More than 400 different cultivars of Crocosmia have been developed, the most popular, perhaps, in the United States being Lucifer, which is bright red.

Here in East Texas, an old Crocosmia developed in the 1800s by a French nurseryman, is most successful. It is bright orange-red with a glowing yellow throat, and thrives with little care in the midsummer garden. It is winter hardy, so gardeners do not have to do what I have always found to be the unpleasant task of lifting the corms and storing them over the winter. Just plant them in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. I usually plant several corms together, as Crocosmia put on a better display when grown in good-sized clumps.

They prefer slightly acidic soil, which makes them perfect for East Texas. Every three to four years divide the clumps to assure vigorous blooms. Here in Texas, you can do this in the spring or the fall, but I prefer dividing in the fall when the weather is cooler. You also can grow Crocosmia in pots, and they make a nice display on the deck or patio.

Crocosmia make excellent cut flowers and should be cut just as the blooms are about to open. Hummingbirds are attracted to the bright orange color and deer leave these plants alone.

Although not often seen in retail gardening outlets, you will have an excellent opportunity to get Crocosmia corms at great prices at our annual Bulbs and More Sale on Oct 8 at Harvey Hall.

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