Montbretia, a beautiful bulb flower

Blooming red montbretia, close-up

Montbretia is a nice perennial that is making a true comeback in our gardens.

Main Montbretia facts

NameCrocosmia crocosmiflora
Type – bulbous flower or perennial

Height – 24 to 32 inches (60 to 80 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary but well drained

Flowering – June to September

As easy to grow as it is beautiful, it also looks a lot like gladiolus, but smaller, thanks to its lance-shaped leaves and flowers staged along a long scape.

Planting montbretia

Ideally, montbretia is to be planted in fall or in spring for it to bloom in the following summer.

  • Plant the montbretia bulbs 4 inches (10 cm) deep in the sun in a spot where it gets hot in summer.
  • Montbretia likes well drained soil and shouldn’t be buried too deep.
  • Keep sufficient spacing of about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) between neighboring plants.
  • It is nicer to plant montbretia in clusters of several specimens.

Dividing a clump of Montbretia

Every 3 years, divide the montbretia bunches and separate the bulbs for the base to regenerate.

  • It is best to divide them in summer.
  • Pull the entire crown out of the ground with a spade.
  • Cleanly slice the bunch in two with a very sharp knife.
  • Replant the new montbretia bunch in an appropriate location.
  • Water abundantly.

Sowing montbretia

If sowing, best to sow in pots in September-October.

  • Here’s a simple guide on how to sow flowers in pots or trays.
  • You can leave them outdoors, under some type of shelter, all winter long.
  • Blooming will only occur 2 to 3 years after the sowing.
  • You’ll proceed to transplant them directly in the ground as soon as the first leaves have sprouted.

Pruning and caring for montbretia

Montbretia, also called crocosmia, is a very easy perennial to care for and practically doesn’t require any care when it is properly settled in.

  • Weed if needed around the base so as to keep weeds from absorbing the nutrients instead of the rhizomes.
  • Remove wilted flowers as they die off, but keep the leaves until the very end of their yellowing, usually until September.
  • Montbretia leaves must be kept connected to the roots for the plant to build up its stocks for the following blooming.
  • No need to water because the plant doesn’t need it.

Once the leaves have wilted to brown or yellow, you can cut the whole clump down to the ground.

Caring for montbretia in winter

Pile of montbretia cormsAfter cutting back wilted leaves, you can work on protecting the underground bulbs against winter colds.

Both in pots or in the ground, montbretia holds to freezing on the condition that the freezing be neither too cold, nor too long, around 23°F (-5°C).

In case of long, severe winters, you must absolutely protect your montbretia corms.

  • A good layer of mulch is enough if temperatures never drop below 23°F (-5°C).
  • If it gets any colder, though, you’ll have to pull them out and bring them in for cover. Store the corms in a dark, dry place.
  • Bring the pots in if your montbretia are grown in pots or garden boxes.

Learn more about montbretia

Red montbretia blooming near the seaNative to South Africa, montbretia displays beautiful colored bunches that tend to grow thicker and thicker as seasons repeat.

Leaves are a beautiful luscious green while its flowers grant us with warm, shimmering colors ranging from yellow to red and orange.

Particularly easy to care for, it even resists mild winter frosts, as long as they aren’t too cold, 23°F (-5°C). It’s also important they don’t last too long.

Certain varieties are even hardy down to 5°F (-15°C) if the soil isn’t waterlogged in winter.

Smart tip about montbretia

To optimize its lifespan, offer it bulb plant organic fertilizer every year after the blooming. Regularly split and thin the bulbs, since their multiplying can quickly make the plant seem invasive.

Montbretia on social media

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Picture related to Montbretia overlaid with the Instagram logo.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Montbretia bloom close-up (also on social media) by fififum under Pixabay license
Pile of… roots by Eric Rayner under © CC BY 2.0
Montbretia growing wild by Philip Goddard ★ under © CC BY-NC 2.0