Freesia

Freesia

Freesias are usually greenhouse grown, blooming from winter into spring. However, it is now possible to buy specially treated corms that flower outside in July-August.

Family: Iridaceae (Iris family)
Botanical Name: Freesia
Common Names: Freesia

Foliage: Narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Deciduous (dies back after flowering).

Flowers: Short spikes of colourful, sweetly scented, funnel-shaped flowers. Available in shades of white, cream, red, orange, yellow, pink, mauve, purple and blue.

Flowering Period: July-August (outdoor grown).

Soil: Well-drained moderately fertile soil (chalk, sand or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun. Grow in a south facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Upright.

Type: Cormous perennial.

Origin: Southern Africa.

Hardiness: Tender in the UK. Protect from frost.

Planting and Growing Freesias

Outdoor varieties should be grow in full sun in a well drained humus rich soil. Shelter from cold winds. Plant outside in late spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plant corms no more than 3in (7cm) deep and 4in (10cm) apart.

For indoor growing, freesias can be planted in pots of good quality compost in autumn, to bloom in late winter or early spring. Water well and place in a cool (around 5°C), shaded, frost-free place. Once the shoots begin to appear move into a warmer, sunny position.

All varieties make excellent cut flowers that last well in water.

Taking Care of Freesias

Water frequently during the growing period.

After flowering stop watering. Remove old foliage once it dies back. Lift corms in autumn, dry off and store in frost free environment ready for planting the next year.

Note: Prepared corms are usually exhausted after flowering, often failing to flower the following year, so it is often best to buy fresh ones each year.

Pests and Diseases

Watch out for red spider mite and aphids. Can be affected by fusarium wilt, virus, corm rot and dry rot.

Propagating Freesias

Can be increased from offsets when dormant in the autumn.

Varieties of Freesia

Freesia corms are widely available from late winter to mid spring. Usually sold as mixed colours in either single or double flowers. Pot grown freesias are often available for sale in early spring.

Freesia corymbosa (syn. armstrongii) has erect lanceolate leaves and arching bracts of trumpet-shaped flowers in various shades of yellow, white or rose or deep pink.

Freesia refracta (Grandma’s Freesia, Common Freesia) produces tufts of narrow, strap-like leaves and loose spikes of sweetly scented, funnel-shaped flowers that bloom facing upwards. The standard flower colour is cream with a gold throat but cultivars are available in pink, red, purple, beige, gold and pure white.

Freesia x kewensis (modern hybrid) produces fan-like clusters of sword-shaped leaves and crocus-shaped flowers, in branched spikes. Height 12-18in (30-45cm), spread to 4in (10cm).

Freesia x hybrida mainly specially prepared corms for planting outside in late spring. Available in a wide range of colours. Height 8-18in (20-45cm).