How to plant, care for and grow Freesia
|Name derived from||Honour of German doctor Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (d.1876)|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun and semi-shade.|
|Flower Colours||Dark purple to red, pink, yellow and white.|
|Frost Tolerance||Can tolerate brief frost. Protect from heavy frost.|
|Predators||Porcupines, molerats, slugs and snails. Aphids and thrips are rare threats but can spread viral diseases. High humidity and insufficient ventilation causes Botrytis to attack foliage.|
Freesia is a corm and is indigenous to South Africa. There are 16 species which occur mainly in the south part of the Western Cape through to tropical Africa. The plants are strongly scented and have a unique aroma. If planted in a sunny area, the stems will remain short and if planted in partial shade it causes the stems to stretch, sometimes to the point where they require support. Protection from heat will extend the plants life. At maturity the plant will be 40cm tall. They look good planted as either single colours or a mixture of colours.
Seasons and planting
Freesia require lean, light, friable soil that is well-draining. You can add sand to improve the drainage if necessary. The spacing between the corms should be about 6cm and the depth at which the corms should be planted is 3cm. The lowest temperature that the plant can tolerate is 5°C.
When planting the corms in a pot, ensure that the pots used have drainage holes. Half an hour after watering the plant, tip the saucer that the pot is on to get rid of any extra water. Also make sure that the pot is placed in an area that protects it from the heat.
If you plant Freesia in the garden, you can put them in a vase to bring their wonderful aroma into the living area. To do this, cut the flowers a bit above ground level when the first buds are about to open and are showing a small bit of their colour.
After flowering, keep corms healthy by feeding them Hadeco Bulb food regularly and watering deeply every four days.
The plants enter dormancy in November and will be ready to be lifted in December. To ensure that the plant is dormant, pull on a stem. If it is released after one firm tug the corm is dormant. At this stage, it is advised to stop watering the plant and leave the corms in the soil as long as there is very little to no rainfall expected during summer or soil drainage is good.
If you would prefer to lift the corms at this time, cut off the foliage just above the necks, brush off any excess soil, dry and keep them in a shady and well-ventilated area. The corms can be stored in: cardboard cartons, wooden crates, net bags or plastic bags. When storing, keep the corms at room temperature and they will remain dormant until autumn.
When replanting the corms, put them in a different location to the previous season. Two years in the same location is fine but in the third a fungus (Fusarium) could start to rot the corms bases.
Multiply freely when given good growing conditions. Ensure germinating seed is constantly moist. A lot of the modern hybrids that have been created are sterile.