Flowers that hum right along.
What we have here is your run of the mill crocosmia. Average in every way save a couple of important exceptions; It’s easy to grow, it’s beautiful and hummingbirds drool over it. Those lil’ winged wonders make a beeline to the crocosmia (say: crow-coz-me-ya) named “Lucifer” before the bees can. So if you’re looking for flowers to brighten up your garden during the parched part of summer, crocosmia is one corm you can count on. Not to mention you get your very own wild pet hummingbird as an added bonus.
Growing crocosmia doesn’t take much effort; the plant does it for you. Just give it some water. This brings me to an important lesson here about following your instincts instead of what the book says because experience is often the best teacher. Case in point: the Sunset Western Garden Book (which I consider indispensable as a quick reference guide) is off base when it comes to watering crocosmia. Sunset’s thumbnail sketch warns us to supply “No water once established” to this plant. Not true. Don’t let crocosmia dry out. The flat sword shaped leaves, which look like gladiola leaves, turn as brown as parchment paper if you don’t water regularly. They look ratty as all heck if they dry out and turn brown. So water, water, water for peak performance.
The flower itself is fascinating. Up to 20 flower buds form along one arching stem in a fan shape at the top. Together the buds resemble the noisemaker on a rattlesnakes tail as the blooms grow bigger and fight for center stage. That’s when the stem magically lengthens out and the flowers buds open sequentially from the bottom up. Lush crocosmia flowers come in bright tropical colors of red, orange, crimson and yellow. They are a stunning sight for so little effort. They also spread quickly. So where you have one plant you’ll have plenty to divide and give to friends within three years.
Crocosmia make great long lasting cut flowers for arrangements and believe it or not, the stems are even more interesting when the flowers fall off. They’re replaced by tiny balls poking up like French knots all along the stem. A bundle of spent flower stems in a vase make a statement alone or as filler for other fresh flowers.
Any flower that sparkles like a jewel and brings energetic new friends to visit wins the jackpot in my garden. So, yes, crocosmia is a cool tropical spot of color this time of year and it’s a sure fire hummingbird magnet. Perhaps you can use some others too.
Holler for Hummingbird Flowers:
*Cardinal flower-Lobelia cardinalis