Crocosmia (kro CAWS a) from the Greek words krokos meaning saffron and osme meaning smell.

Crocosmia Or Lily 2The dried flowers of the plant have a strong saffron smell when placed in water. Crocosmia, also called montbretia, is a small genus of perennials in the iris family, Iridaceae, that also includes gladiolia and crocus. Interestingly, the crocus C. sativus, is the source of culinary saffron. Crocosmia is native to southern and eastern Africa where it grows in the grasslands. The plants grow from underground corms that produce long sword-like leaves and one-sided inflorescences. The red to orange and yellow flowers are funnel-shaped and carried on arching stems of four to twenty blossoms from summer to fall. The flowers are excellent for the vase. Many of the Crocosmia plants found in gardens today are interspecific hybrids or intergeneric hybrids between Crocosmia and Curtonus.

Crocosmia LuciferOne of the best and most available hybrids is “Lucifer’. It is the result of a cross between Crocosmia and Curtonus paniculata and produces bright scarlet-red nodding flowers that open from bottom to top. When the flowers are spent and seeds form the stems-bearing  seed pods look attractive through winter and are beautiful in dried bouquets.  Plants grow three to four feet tall and one foot wide. They are hardy to USDA zones 5-9 but may have to be lifted after the first frost in Zones 5 and colder.

By Karen