Like so many plants, the Montbretia also have numerous other names, which often cause confusion among hobby gardeners. About 100 years ago, the delicate beauties were traded under the name Montbretia Aura. It was later renamed to the Latin name Crocosmia, which is common today. The old garden plants, which were already very popular in grandmother’s time, belong to the plant genus Iris. As can also be seen from the shape of the flowers and leaves, they are closely related to the gladioli. Plants with particularly beautiful flower colors and strong foliage were bred from the wild forms. Older varieties were not considered hardy and had to be overwintered indoors in a frost-free place. In the meantime, there are numerous breeds on the market that are more robust and much more winter-hardy.


The floriferous tuberous plants show elegant, arching overhanging inflorescences in bright shades of color in summer. The funnel-shaped individual flowers are arranged in two rows, spike-like. There are Montbretia that produce rather small flowers. In recent years, more and more Montbretia have been offered, which produce remarkably large flowers. The color spectrum ranges from yellow to orange-yellow, orange to fiery orange-red.

The foliage of the Montbretia is also extremely beautiful. The leaves are long, sword-shaped and narrow in shape. The foliage forms an attractive, dark green focal point in the flower bed in spring. Depending on the variety, Montbretia grow up to 100 cm high. Montbretia form large rhizomes underground.


Montbretia only sprout in spring when the soil has warmed up a bit. If the soil temperatures are appropriate, the plant first forms roots and then shows the first green. By May at the latest, the seedlings of healthy tubers should also be visible in rougher areas. Due to this slow budding, the flowering period of the plants does not begin until July. But it lasts until September, sometimes even into October.

Note: Montbretia also last a long time in a vase. However, they should only be cut when the first flowers have opened. If the buds are still closed when cut, the grateful flowers often no longer bloom.

location and soil conditions

In their homeland, the Montbretia grow on the permeable, nutrient-rich soils of the high altitudes. There is ample rainfall in summer and cool, dry winters. Due to their long breeding history, Montbretia are no longer so demanding when it comes to soil conditions. They have adapted to the soil conditions of other regions. Garden montbretia also thrive well with slightly alkaline pH values.

The optimal location in our latitudes is based on the natural needs of the plant. It should be warm, sunny and sheltered. Southern locations shielded from the wind have a very positive effect on growth and flowering.

Newly purchased Montbretia bulbs or those that have overwintered indoors can be planted out from the end of April. Propelling the plants indoors is not necessary. It is advisable to place newly acquired tubers in warm water overnight before planting. This encourages them to sprout faster in the ground. The tubers should be planted according to the old rule of thumb: “Three times as deep as the size of the tuber”. The delicate beauties need well-drained soil rich in humus and nutrients in order to grow vigorously and healthily. It should be sufficiently permeable. In heavy loamy soil, the tender tubers of the Montbretia could die off due to waterlogging and the resulting formation of rot. The soil can be loosened by adding sand when planting.

Montbretia thrive particularly well in the vicinity of dry and warmth-loving perennials. The summer bloomers look particularly beautiful in company with noble thistles (Eryngium), spurge (Euphorbia) or summer asters (Aster amellus). A socialization of Montbretia and garden scented nettles is visually very attractive. Both plants bloom at about the same time and complement each other in their color spectrum. The white flowers of the day lily or summer daisy also harmonize very well with the strong colors of the Montbretia.

The cultivation of Montbretia in pots is also possible. In a sufficiently large planter, the Montbretia develop particularly well on the terrace or balcony. In the fall, place the container with the plant in the dark basement or cool garage for the winter. As soon as the leaves turn yellow, they are removed to prevent pest infestation or mold. During the dormant period in winter, the potted Montbretia does not need water. As soon as the temperatures rise above freezing outside, the plant can be brought out of its winter quarters. It should now be watered and fertilized regularly again. For pot Montbretia, commercial liquid fertilizer is recommended, which is administered at least weekly. Repotting takes place every 3 years in spring in commercial potting soil.


Since the summers are quite humid in the homeland of the Montbretia, the cultivated plants also need sufficient moisture in the summer. In contrast to the wild forms, the European cultivated forms also tolerate calcareous irrigation water very well. The plants should always be watered in the morning or evening, but never at the time of the greatest midday heat in summer.


Montbretia are quite easy to propagate. The easy-care plants form plenty of secondary tubers and grow into large clumps. These should be carefully dug up and divided every 3 years. In this way, the “children” can also absorb enough nutrients in their new place in the flower bed and grow into large plants.

Sometimes Montbretia also set seeds. These can be used to breed plants. However, these efforts are not always crowned with success.


Since cultivated Montbretia are only winter hardy to a limited extent, they should be well protected in the cold season. If the ground freezes severely for a long period of time, this will damage the sensitive tubers. In areas where temperatures do not drop too much in winter, the tubers do not have to be dug up. The aerial parts of the plant die off in autumn. Since the dead leaves provide natural frost protection, they should not be cut off on plants that overwinter outdoors.

The tubers of the plant remain in the soil as a germination center and nutrient storage. A generous frost protection layer of foliage or mulch is applied over the bulbs and yellowing leaves of the Montbretia. This should be additionally weighed down with fir branches to prevent the frost protection from being blown away. The mulch is permeable to air and thus prevents waterlogging. At the same time, it protects the ground from freezing too deeply.

In areas with severe frosts, the Montbretia should be dug up in the fall. In order not to damage the sensitive stolons, as much garden soil as possible should be left on the tubers. Stolons are the shoots of the tubers from which the flowers will sprout next year. This measure prevents the shoots from drying out during the long winter months. The soil surrounding the tubers should be closely inspected for pests. Only perfect tubers and healthy-looking soil may be stored. Plants that are diseased or infected by pests must be sorted out, as they would infect the healthy rhizomes over the winter. The dug up tubers can then overwinter in the house in a dark and cool place. A cool basement room or garage is best suited for this.

Alternatively, there is the option of planting the Montbretia in the beds using commercially available plant baskets. The plants can then be overwintered directly in these containers. The potting soil can remain in the plant baskets as protection.


If the Montbretia are left outdoors over the winter, the protective mulch should be removed in March or April. An early application of fertilizer stimulates the growth of the plants and also leads to an earlier flowering. For fertilization it is recommended to apply a 3 cm thick layer of compost. The flowering shoots and roots of the bulbous plant develop extremely well. However, the compost must not be incorporated under any circumstances. Here, too, the risk of damaging the sensitive stolons would be too great. Due to their willingness to bloom, Montbretia need plenty of nutrients. Therefore, a second application of fertilizer is recommended in June, before the actual flowering period begins.


Mice love flower bulbs; Montbretia tubers are also a treat for the animals. Wire baskets, in which the tubers are transplanted directly into the ground, help against the voracious rodents. Since Montbrecia form rhizomes, the baskets must always be bought “on growth”. Alternatively, there is the option of bending your own planters out of fine-meshed rabbit wire. Unfortunately, mice are smart and sometimes bypass these feeding barriers. Then it helps to tackle the rodents with live traps. The animals can then be released back into the wild at a great distance from their own garden.

Occasionally, the plants can be attacked by thrips (bladder feet). The affected plants react by inhibiting growth. The pests should first be showered off with a hard jet of water. Then you can treat the Montbretia with biological or chemical pesticides against the pests. Aphids are less common in Montbretia. Commercial sprays that are available in specialist shops can also help here.

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