Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ was a plant included in a mixed container garden one summer as I prepared many for sale at a farmers market. I liked the plant’s sword like foliage, and admired the photos of its exotic vivid red blooms, but this perennial was somewhat new to me.
Because the container was being offered for sale during Father’s Day weekend, and it contained large and showy plants along with the Crocosmia, the container was given the name of, “The Big Daddy.” Each plant in the arrangement was described as follows:
THE BIG DADDY
Only $145 (w/tax included)
This “Big Daddy” Planter will give the Dad, Father, or Hubby in your life a show fit for a king!
7 Big Daddy Plants with fertilizer, compost, and water reducer amendment already added.
Red Banana Thriller – In the center – Ensete ‘Maurelii’ red banana will go bananas fast, showing off big and wide leaves with tropical red coloration! It can reach 6 to even 12 feet tall in one season, wow. You can’t beat this THRILLER.
Crocosmia – A perennial that will flower in the late summer with VIBRANT wands of scarlet, red, orange, yellow pops of color. When most annuals tend to fade away from the summer heat, this tall, spiky foliage plant also gives another big thrill to this combo, and can be transplanted into your garden in the fall.
Leonotis – Lion’s Ears, don’t see it? You will by the end of summer. It will display the most amazing whorls of bright orange flowers, to give a last big blast of show in this container. This plant is is a sub-shrub from Africa. Very UNIQUE.
Farfugium japonicum – Leopard Plant. The glossy leaves dotted with yellow and gold are soon to expand to 6 inches across. This plant adds a FASCINATING filler to your thrillers. Large, daisy like flowers bloom in early summer.
Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ – Blooming now thru the end of September, this black eye Susan with a green eye is the NON-STOP show in your Big Daddy Container. Snip off a couple for the vases inside and out too.
Gerber Daisy – A spot of more yellow to complement the design of bright intense colors, and will shoot up new SHOWY flowers continuously. Look how the center echo other colors.
It turned out that no one bought the amazing “Big Daddy” container garden filled with large perennials, annuals, and tropical plants, even though many visitors came by to see it. There were some tentative buyers, but none the less, it remained unsold by the end of the market’s day.
EXOTIC VIVID RED FUNNEL SHAPED FLOWERS
During Crocosmia’s bloom period in the summer, the individual funnel shaped flower buds are held on each side of an arching flowering stem, held up like jewels above the spiky foliage. The buds open up sequentially, and in my opinion, the closed buds are just as pretty as the open ones.
The show it put on for two seasons, with the expectation it will repeat its rock-star like performance again this summer, has stayed etched in my mind. Not only will the plant look good from the beginning of spring when the foliage arrives, but it will start to display a fireworks show of red brilliant buds and blooms starting in late June or early July. And the show continues into early September.
ATTRACTS HUMMINGBIRDS AND OTHER POLLINATORS
A friend referred to Crocosmia as a hummingbird plant, because she feels the buds resemble hummingbirds, plus the opened blooms attract them regularly. I totally agree on both points. Hummingbirds visited it often during its blooming period, and bees dove into the funnel shaped flowers regularly on their nectar seeking journeys.
The bright red flower color of this exotic looking perennial does not go dull either, as with some plants’ blooms. Against its dark-green sword like tall and erect foliage, which is also a bold texture in the mixed planting of the container, the red flower coloring is intensified.
See Below for Photo Attribution
Photo by C. Testa
ECHOING THE COLORS
Another aspect I really enjoy is how the colors within the Crocosmia were echoed here and there by the adjoining red banana plant’s foliage, and even a bit of yellow in the buds or center of blooms, was echoed by the bright yellow daisy blooms of the Rubeckia perennial also in the container garden arrangement.
Photo by C. Testa
The red banana plant (Ensete), the key thriller in the center, reached about seven to nine feet tall by the end of summer. And the Rudbeckia was about three to four feet, with the Crocosmia blooms hovering over its foliage at the same approximate height as the Rudbeckia. They were in sync and created a nice balance.
The yellow blooms colors of the perennial Rudbeckia complemented the whole arrangement as well. It was another warm and bright contrasting color in the container garden. These warm colors can be seen from afar, or up close if you are like me examining plants as they bloom open, which is something you will want to do because the Crocosmia blooms are alluring, attracting pollinators and admirers.
STORING OVER THE WINTER AS A CONTAINER GARDEN
After a full summer season of enjoying all of the plants in the Big Daddy, the container garden was moved into the garage for protection. I removed the growing structures of the tropical plants, such as the root base of the red banana plant, but the Crocosmia perennial remained in the pot with the soil as it was put to rest in a shelter for the winter.
The following spring when things began to warm, the growth of Crocosmia started to pop out of the container garden’s soil. The Big Daddy was rolled outside with my trusty hand-trucked to a new location by a bench in a small garden space by my driveway.
The blooms were even more showy this past year as this perennial grew into a larger clump. Eventually it will need to be dug out to be divided (see video below for a demonstration of the process) or the cormels (small corms growing near the side of a large corm) can be removed to be stored over the winter, similar to the process for Canna rhizomes and Colocasia (elephant ear) bulbs.
IN THE GARDEN
Crocosmia is known to not always return in the garden if not well-protected with a thick layer of mulch or leaves during the winter (and if there was no snow cover to offer insulation), but in a container garden that risk of non-repeat performances is minimized, if not eliminated. It is not a picky perennial but it can be short-lived.
IN A CONTAINER
All you have to do is move the container with the plant into a garage, shed, or even your basement for the winter and then roll it back out in early spring – and Crocosmia is sure to return – as it did for me last summer. It will ‘rock on’ for a long time in a container garden or patio pot for many years to come.
DIVIDING THE CLUMP AND/OR CORMELS
And one more note, the plant grows in a clump and from corms. The clump may need to be divided after 3 or 4 years if it outgrows your container or pot. Or you can divide the actual cormels as they reproduce below the soil overtime, providing more plants for you. For a video on how-to do this, see below.
Written by Cathy Testa
- Native to South Africa
- Prefers moist, rich soil, full sun or light shade
- Tolerates sand and heavy clay
- Makes a long-lasting cut flower
- Divide clumps every couple years (2-3 years) as needed or separate cormels
- Foliage lastS from spring until fall
- Flowers last mid-summer to early September
- 2 to 4 ft. Height; 1 to 2 ft. Width for ‘Lucifer’ cultivar
- Not bothered by serious pests
- Zones 5-7 (Zones 1-4 store like Canna)
- Other cultivar colors: Fiery yellow‚ orange‚ red and tan
- Pronounce something like this: Crow-Cause-Mia (Crocosmia)
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b461 (Missouri Botanical Garden, Rubeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’)
How to Videos:
For an informational video about varieties, how to plant them in the garden, autumn care, plant partners to use with it, and how to propagate Crocosmia, see this video by Trecanna.
To see how to separate the small cormels, and for tips on how to plant in a garden bed, see Yolanda Vanveen of HowToGardenVideos.com:
Photo of Hummingbird flying away from Crocosmia:
Brocken Inaglory [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Don’t forget to check out Cathy T’s Container Gardening Class on May 24, 2014 in Broad Brook, CT. See also Cathy T’s Garden Talks.
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Happy Saturday Everyone…
Photo by C. Testa (Rudbeckia blooms)
Black-Eyed Susan ‘Prairie Sun’
Rudbeckia hirta (perennial)
Sun to partial sun
Midsummer to early fall blooms
Well-drained soil moisture
8-36″ in height
Daisy-like flowers bloom yellow.
2003 All-American Selections Winner
Excellent cutting flower