When to plant freesia bulbs

Monty Don confesses to not growing his own flowers

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Freesias are native to South Africa where they are winter-growing plants. But the plants commonly known as freesias are actually derived from a cross made in the 19th century between two varieties, F.refracta and F.leichtlinii. Modern cultivations of the freesia range from white to yellow, pink, red and mauve and are mostly cultivated professionally in the Netherlands by about 80 growers. While they are a beautiful centrepiece, their pleasing and specific scent make them a favourite for use in hand creams, shampoos and candles.

When to plant freesia bulbs

Freesias planted outside often come in prepared corms which are heat-treated to mimic the hot, dry South African climate.

This variety is available in spring for flowering in July and August, but will only flower at this time for one season.

If you want them ready for the summer, plant five centimetres deep in April, in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.

Situate them in a sunny yet sheltered spot with twig sticks or wire for extra support as they grow.

If the corms are unprepared, they’ll be available in the late summer for planting outside in August or September.

However, this variety is only suitable for regions with very mild weather and very little frost.

Within these conditions, these corms can remain in-situ to flower in the spring the following year, but as the UK is generally a cold country, this probably won’t work.

For planting freesia bulbs indoors or in a greenhouse, corms will flower from January to April if they’re planted between August and December.

Water them regularly and keep them moist and shaded at all times.

To achieve the perfect condition for your freesias to bloom, a cold greenhouse or conservatory is more than ideal.

Once the corms start to sprout, move the pots into full sunlight and keep on watering them.

When the buds start showing colour, you can bring them back indoors.

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If the corms have been planted in good quality soil or compost, they will not need to be fed at all.

Flowering in freesias takes around 100 to 120 days from planting.

Freesias are not fully hardy, so you’re normally recommended to lift the plants in the autumn, either when the leaves yellow or after the first frost.

Cut the stems back to one inch and allow the corms to fully dry before removing the old, shrivelled part, keeping only the new corms.

When it comes to freesias, the yellow, blue and white varieties have a longer vase-life than reds and pinks, with some lasting up to three weeks when cut.

Either bought or homemade, using flower food is worth it when it comes to freesias.

Use one teaspoon of thick bleach and two of a thick sugar syrup added to one litre of water, or two small food flower sachets if store-bought.

This can extend the life of the flowers in the vase by up to 20 percent, helps the buds to develop and reportedly enhances scent.

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