Freesia flowers are internationally popular but do not bloom for everyone. Non-budding or damaged flowers often leave gardeners feeling tired and frustrated.
Because of their bright colors, freesia flowers are frequently used in winter bouquets for a fresh and cheerful ambiance. If the stems look scraggly or the petals consistently droop, the arrangement does not work. No amount of watering will bring back a dead plant.
Freesia plants are sensitive to sunlight and need at least six hours per day. If the temperature is too low, this will damage the buds. If the temperature is over 70, flowers will stop blooming. With the right care, freesia flowers should grow back each year.
Freesia plants are native to South Africa and provide trumpet buds in all colors. In the right climate, they are exotic and unusually bright for February. Even if the buds have been damaged from lack of light, there’s no need to give up planting. Freesias are relatively hardy flowers once the conditions are tweaked.
Even as a true “winter person”, I still need a little color. I’ve been growing freesia flowers for three years now and have finally found the perfect environment. With experience and a little help from the local nursery, I’m confident in their growth potential.
Winter Flowers in America
Indoor plants can survive the winter if they are potted and placed near a reliable light source. Window Sills with a varying degree of light are usually sufficient depending on the plant. Flowers that bloom during the winter, however, can be much easier to grow.
Freesia plants are similar to violas and winter jasmine. All of these plants bloom in the late winter and sometimes early spring. The best time to plant winter bulbs is between April and June for full blooms in February.
Planting Freesia Flowers
Freesia flowers are popular in North India, South Africa, Western Australia, and the United States. Frequently they are used in scented lotions and perfume due to their unique scent. Regardless of when or where the flower is grown, its scent is always the same.
To successfully grow freesias, think of them as friends. Freesia flowers do best when they are planted in groups. While rows will still work, their blooms may not be as bountiful or radiant. Planting a group of flowers in all one color can look striking if they are near a separate color group. Mixing colors together will not harm the flowers, but it does create a more chaotic look.
Before planting it’s important to understand what you want out of your freesia flowers. To extend the flowering season, bulbs can be planted bi-weekly. This is particularly fun if you have mass quantities of freesia.
The Hardiness Range
The plant hardiness zone is a map that gardeners have used for decades. The data shows whether a plant can withstand certain types of extreme weather. The cold zone map shows that zone 1 is considered to have the coldest winter average while zone 12 is the least chilly.
A Plant Heat Zone Map divides the United States into another 12 zones. The first number represents the hottest area while the following numbers move farther away from the extreme. A tropical fern, for instance, may do best in a 10 or 11 zone.
Freesias are hardy plants that can grow in a winter zone of 9 or 10. They prefer a steady amount of light but can blossom in part-shade. Their stems should be cut to approximately 1 inch once the flowers fade.
Planting the Bulbs
Freesia bulbs are known as corms. They look like small green onions and usually come in packs. Although it’s possible to plant only one bulb, freesia flowers prefer to be planted with six or seven others.
Regardless of the bulb, freesia plants will need proper soil drainage. Instead of just picking out a damp spot, check the area by first digging a hole. Pour at least two cups of water to see if the water drains. Slow drainage is problematic for these flowers and will impact the overall health of the plant.
Place each bulb in a 2-inch hole with the pointed end facing the sky. After they’re sufficiently covered with the soil you can add water to the area. Sprouts will begin to grow in approximately three weeks.
How To Care for Freesias
Planting is not the only step to growing gorgeous flowers. Fertilizing and stem support is just as important as where they are planted. Once each bulb is burried in a sufficiently sunny spot, basic nutrients are required.
Quality soil is not always available depending on where you live. My yard has soil so tough that it crumbles. Luckily there are a few tricks available to create the best home possible for multiple freesia bulbs.
Many gardeners choose to use liquid fertilizer for freesia bulbs. This is because it’s rich with nutrients and usually has an especially high rate of potassium. Bone meal fertilizer is also recommended, but not as often. Bone meal fertilizer should only be used once every spring.
Not all fertilizers work the same way. Depending on the brand of fertilizer, some products may be measured differently. The size of the dose is a determining factor in how often fertilizer needs to be used. If there aren’t any dosage instructions on the back of a packet, make sure to ask the staff.
Over-watering, especially in the beginning, is likely to disrupt the natural amount of nutrients in the soil. I used to think that too much water was better than not enough, but in the case of freesia flowers, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Extra water can damage the growth of bulbs and hinder future foliage.
Ideally the soil should be evenly distributed for each bulb. You’re aiming for moist soil that can be easily drained. When the flowers have eventually faded, less water is needed. The foliage does not need to be watered and can actually damage the blooms. Using a narrower spray can help reduce the likelihood of unnecessary watering.
Root or bulb rot is not uncommon with freesia flowers. If you notice any mold forming, cut back on daily watering. Freesia plants can go a week without water if necessary.
Freesias need strong support to help them blossom. This is true for both wild and potted freesias. Since the blossoms are uniquely shaped with large petals, the weight of each bloom can cause them to droop.
Stakes can be found in almost any gardening store. They do not need to be made from a specific wood or metal so long as they are easy to put in the ground. The best type of stake is thick enough for heavy support and round headed. This will allow the plant to grow through the stake while still benefiting from sturdy support.
A single stake is easy to attach to plants as long as you have access to a plant tie. If you only buy the stake, this can backfire when trying to secure the flowers. In addition to the actual stake, you will need a hammer and gloves.
A single stake should be placed 7 inches into the soil. Rather than trying to dig a hole, use the end of the stake to pierce through the ground. The ideal spot is close to the freesia plant, but far enough away to avoid damage. It’s common for gardeners to unintentionally hit the flower roots during this process.
The plant can be attached near the top of the stake. If it is attached too high the stem will stretch farther than it should. Multiple supports can be used depending on the type of stake purchased.
It may be tempting to buy a trellis. Don’t fall into this trap. While they are usually quite elegant, they are designed primarily for climbing vines. A trellis may provide similar support, but it looks awkward when flowers remain toward the bottom of the structure. Plants that benefit from a trellis include pole beans and zucchini.
Temperature and humidity are two separate issues. While the temperature may be high enough to grow, too much humidity will damage the flowers. Typically these flowers prefer 50% humidity. For dry states like New Mexico, freesias are more difficult to grow. Indoor freesias are recommended.
It’s easier to control the temperature and even the humidity indoors. Greenhouses are usually the go-to in terms of humidity, but specialized rooms can provide the same climate. Creating indoor humidity usually involves a large humidifier, oil diffusers, and standing water.
Despite the climate, freesia flowers do not attract mold and root rot. They also do not attract slugs and fungus. This is somewhat unusual for plants that thrive in the humidity and is greatly appreciated by many gardeners (including myself).
Gifting Freesia Plants
Propagating freesias is a surprisingly quick process. By using division, the plants will naturally create smaller bulbs on top of the main corm. The smaller bulbs are easy to remove and do not require much force. If you are gentle, you can remove all the tiny bulbs without damaging future blooms. These bulbs can then be replanted in another garden.
About THE AUTHOR
As an experienced gardener & landscaper on my own property over the last 20 years, I'm excited to share the things I've learned along the way, as I continue to learn.Read More About Elsie Moore