Simple Steps To Fabulous Fragrance With Freesia!
Not only are Freesia outstanding cut flowers, but their unique arching growth habit and delightful fragrance make them perfect for home gardens as well. Blooming in a wide range of brilliant shades, these beauties aren't shy about making a huge impact wherever they grow roots.
Our favorite part about these easy-to-grow flowers is that there's no need to hurry - they burst into fragrant bloom in the summer and have an extended vase life for long-lasting enjoyment. Regardless of where you choose to grow them, one thing's for sure - with these colorful cultivars around, there's always time to stop and smell the flowers!
Alright, so let's talk about the unusual structure of these fabulous bloomers. Freesias are "zygomorphic," meaning the flowers are held on one side of the stem rather than distributed all around. While this unique trait is shared with other species, such as Orchids, Gladiolus, and Sweet Peas, Freesias are different in that their stems make an abrupt 90° turn just below the first and largest bloom, causing each floret to face skyward. It's truly magnificent - see for yourself!
The Pursuit Of The Perfect Freesia
Hybridizers have produced Freesia varieties with different stem lengths, larger flowers, longer vase lives, varying forms, and a brilliant array of colors. As you can see, Freesias have proven very easy to work with in terms of developing new traits, but as is so often the case, we tend to overlook what makes something special to begin with when seeking perfection.
Of course, it's wonderful that Freesias now bloom in rich, royal shades of red, pink, and purple, but the signature scent known to these flowers is compromised. Sure, it's just as lovely, but there's less of it to go around. So if you're looking for the most aromatic option, we recommend sticking with the traditional white and yellow varieties, specifically Freesia Heirloom Antique Alba. This timeless beauty is the single most fragrant Freesia available, with petite, creamy white blooms tinged in yellow.
Freesia Blooming Period
In their native land South Africa, Freesias grow and bloom in late winter, repaying weeks of cool sunshine and moderate water with loads of color and luscious scent. However, with properly timed planting, you can enjoy these frost-tender flowers in your own garden.
When given adequate conditions, Freesias reliably bloom 100-120 days after planting, making staggering every few weeks enormously effective. I mean, who doesn't want a continuous, fresh flush of fragrant, colorful blossoms?! All you have to do is remember that cool sunshine is key to their success, as the plants will start to struggle as soon as temperatures are routinely in the 90s. Oh, but be careful because frost is not Freesia's friend either.
Take a quick peek at your calendar and count two weeks past the average last frost date and 3.5 months back from the time your climate zone typically sees 90°+ temperatures. The period before those dates is the sweet spot for planting Freesias outdoors if your region freezes in the winter. If you're gardening in an area with mild winters, plant your Freesias outdoors in the fall or spring.
On the other hand, if you plan to start your Freesias indoors and then move them outside, you'll have much more freedom to plant up perfumed pots to enjoy all spring long!
How To Plant Freesias
Freesia bulbs work hard to form roots and slim, sword-shaped leaves for about three months, so it serves to start them in containers where they can stay tucked away in a sunny spot before planting front and center in the garden.
- For outdoor landscape planting, dig holes and set your Freesia bulbs 2" deep and 3" apart with the pointed ends up. Cover the bulbs with soil and water thoroughly.
- For container planting, set your Freesia 2" deep and 2" apart with the pointy ends up for the most brilliant display. Cover the bulbs with soil and water, making sure the container drains well.
Freesias grow from modified, underground stems called corms that look like small, slim onions. In order for them to be ready to start growing and acclimating in your garden, you'll need to plant high-quality and fully prepared corms. Prepared corms are those that have been subjected to a heating and cooling period, mimicking their native habitat in South Africa. This process prepares them to grow and bloom for you right after being purchased. So, for this reason, it's wise to buy Freesia corms fresh even if you plant them in both spring and fall.
Soil And Sun Requirements
Give your Freesias a home where they will receive full sun for at least six to eight hours every day. Freesias need full sun to flourish and have a long blooming season. Additionally, they will grow best in nutrient-rich soil that drains well - Miracle-Gro is a good choice, as are other potting soils on the market.
How To Grow Freesias
- Water thoroughly after planting and as needed during active growth periods, keeping the soil damp but never soggy. Be sure to let the soil dry a bit between waterings, as these corms can rot in wet, saturated soil.
- Begin feeding your Freesias once new growth is roughly 5" tall with a half-strength solution of water-soluble plant food, such as Miracle-Gro.
- Leave the foliage in place right after bulbs finish blooming; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis, and strengthen the bulb for the future.
- Remove foliage when the leaves begin to turn yellow and die as the plant slips into dormancy. Your Freesia will rest for a few months before commencing the next growing cycle.
Freesia Tips And Tricks
- Stake taller varieties when planting to support the weight of the one-sided stalks as flowers develop. You'll thank yourself when your Freesias don't wind up in a mud puddle following a hard rain! Bamboo stakes with loose ties work well, as do long twigs from the garden for a more natural look.
- Cut the flowers when in bloom for striking bouquets or to bring the sweet fragrance indoors. The white, yellow, and blue varieties have the longest vase lives, and when cut in the closed bud stage, they can last up to 3 weeks! Additionally, using cut flower food, whether homemade or store-bought, can extend the vase life of your Freesias by up to 20%!
- Katie Elzer-Peters