Crocosmia - Monbreza


To the crocosmia genus belong some species of geophytic plants, whose roots develop large roundish corms, originating in Southern Africa. In the nursery we can find only four species of Crocosmia: C. aurea, C. potsii, C. masoniorum and C. paniculata; over the years many hybrids have been produced, and in particular, a hybrid developed centuries ago in France, Crocosmia crocosmiiflora, also called Montbretia, is widespread. The plants of crocosmia produce long lanceolate, sword-shaped leaves, light green, brilliant, slightly fleshy; some species and hybrids have laterally folded leaves, which tend to stretch out on the ground; the masoniorum and paniculata species, and their hybrids, instead have well erect and rigid foliage, often larger than their cousins. The leaves can reach 8 to 90 cm in height, giving rise to a large patch of vegetation; they develop in spring, and dry up completely when autumn arrives, although some varieties in very mild climate even in winter, tend to keep some green leaves even during the cold season. Starting from the summer, thin stems develop between the leaves, erect or arched depending on the species, which carry numerous buds at the apex, which bloom in succession; the flowers of the Crocosmia are typically orange or red, of tubular shape, even if there are hybrid varieties yellow or almost pink.


Not all the species of monbreza come from the same area of ​​Africa, therefore some characteristics of cultivation diverge from species to species, even if, as a general rule, they are plants closely related to the iris, with which they share most of the characteristics of cultivation. The golden and pottsii species originate from areas of Africa with a warm temperate climate, with fairly high winter minimums, accustomed to living in semi-shaded conditions, as well as their hybrids. In Italy there are more easily crocosmias of the masoniorum and paniculata species, and the hybrid varieties, which can easily live outdoors even during the winter months and prefer cultivation conditions similar to those of gladioli or iris. The crocosmias therefore settle in a flowerbed where they can enjoy at least a few hours of direct sunlight, or even completely in the sun; they do not fear the rigors of winter, and therefore the corms can be left undisturbed in the ground. They need watering in the spring, especially if they are recently home, or if the climate is dry, and even during the warm months, until the leaves dry up; however, it is a case of plants that tolerate drought and do not like water stagnation, and therefore it is advisable to water only in case of very dry soil. Starting from when the first shoots are seen, it is good to begin to provide a good fertilizer for flowering plants, not excessively rich in nitrogen; to avoid having to water the plants often, it is convenient to spread around the shoots a slow release granular fertilizer, which will melt with the rains. Not loving water stagnations, these plants should be grown in a good rich soil, but very well drained; if the earth of our garden is clayey or excessively compact, before positioning the corms, we lighten the soil with fresh soil and sand or pumice stone to improve the flow of water. When the autumn cold arrives, the leaves of MmI cormi can be left at home throughout the year, they will re-spring in the spring.

Crocosmias in pots

These corms can also be grown in pots, provided they are placed in a very large and deep container; the corms of monbreza tend to have a particular development, in conditions of cold and drought, the corms have a development in a straight line, not horizontally, but vertically, with the older corms that are found in the lower part of the line of development , and the young ones who are above. Therefore, it is important to allow the roots to develop even in depth, so that our pot will be completely filled with leaves and flowers over the years. We fill the jar with a good rich and permeable soil, enriched with little manure and lightened with little sand; the addition of slow release granular fertilizer will allow us to avoid any further fertilization. Crocosmias tolerate drought well, but let us remember that in pot the soil receives more heat and tends to dry out more quickly, and therefore these plants, in pots, may need more frequent watering. If we fear that in our garden the winter climate is too harsh we can move the vase to shelter during the winter, or cover it with non-woven fabric; wishing, in autumn, it is possible to unearth the corms, and to divide the old ones from the younger ones, which will be moved to another vessel, or to the ground; let us remember that geophyte plants constantly tend to produce further underground organs from year to year, which can give rise to new plants; so if we wish to propagate our species of monbreza, we can simply take the new corms. In addition to this, the operation of unearthing and unloading the corms is fundamental in the pot, which otherwise will tend irreparably to become excessively crowded, preventing the plants from developing correctly; this should be done at least every 2-3 years.

Crocosmia - Monbreza: The development of geophyte plants

The geophytes, or plants that produce various underground organs in which they hold resources for the flowers of the following year, such as bulbs, corms, tubers, swollen rhizomes, have a particular development. From year to year, during the growing season, they retain the surplus nutrients in these organs; these will allow them to have a splendid flowering the following year. The plants feed on chlorophyll photosynthesis, or through the green parts of leaves and stems; for this reason, in order for our geophyte to have sufficient nutrients to be set aside for the following year's flowering, it is important, indeed fundamental, to allow the leaves to develop correctly. So, even when the plants have stopped flowering, we will have to allow the leaves to develop in a rich and luxuriant way, until they will naturally dissolve, and then return to the next year. The practice of cutting the leaves of bulbous plants, as soon as the flowers have withered, leads with time to the partial or total absence of blooms in the years to come.