Crocosmia lucifer is a brightly flowered, showy plant that is considered a cousin to the gladiolus, as there are physical similarities. The cottage-style flower blooms through the summer months, creating an interest point in flower beds and gardens. The plants are appealing because they are easy to maintain and resistant to garden nuisances.
Crocosmia lucifer, native to South Africa, is a perennial bulb-type plant that grows flowers that are bright red and tubular in shape. The common name for the plant is montbretia, from the Iridaceae, or Iris, family. Crocosmia lucifer is compatible with growing zones 5 through 9 and is found growing in clumps or groups. Crocosmia lucifer blooms from June through August and reaches a height of 2 to 4 feet with a 1-to 2-foot spread.
Crocosmia lucifer should be planted at a depth of 2 to 3 inches and 6 to 8 inches apart from each other. The plants prefer a soil that is a well-drained but remains moist. Crocosmia lucifer grows well in full sun to part shade conditions. Plant bulbs should be dug and stored during winter in growing zones 5 to 6, as the plants do not survive temperatures below 0 degrees F. Apply mulch over the plants for best results during winter.
Crocosmia lucifer plants grow best when planted in groups of 12 or more plants, making them useful as a color border. They also grow well in containers, which makes pulling the bulbs in winter easy. The colorful flower shoots are used in cut flower arrangements because of the color and height of the stems. Crocosmia lucifer is a brightly colored plant that attracts hummingbirds to flower gardens. Deer and rabbits resist eating plant shoots, making the plant attractive to areas where these animals are a problem.
Insects and Disease
There are few insect and disease problems with crocosmia lucifer. Spider mites and thrips may appear on the plants, causing destruction to the leaves. Spider mites are a common plant pest and are difficult to see. The mites create a web under the leaves as protection for eggs and larvae. Thrips are thin insects with fringed wings. To control, lightly spray the plants to remove the insects. Insecticides do not control either insect, but an application of insecticidal soap may keep them away. Neither insect causes structural damage.
Crocosmia lucifer is propagated through the division of bulb corms. Once the bulb clump has been dug, remove bulbs that have grown off the main bulb section. It is best to divide and plant in spring, prior to new growth. For best plant growth, divide the bulbs every 3 years.