Freesias are lovely bulbs native to South Africa producing single or double, sweetly scented funnel-shaped flowers that will progressively appear along one side of the upper part of the stems — these will shift horizontally as the flowers open. Freesia corms are inexpensive and worth the effort! Given the correct conditions, they will reward you with masses of fragrant flowers perfect for floral arrangements. They go well with amaryllises and prepared hyacinths.
Freesias should be grown in pots in a cool and frost-free indoor area. Plant your corms in John Innes N°2 compost and add a third of grit to help drainage. Water your pot once and wait for the foliage to appear. After a few weeks, place your pots in a cool greenhouse or conservatory where a temperature of around 10°C can be maintained and feed your freesias with high potash feed. If you garden organically, liquid seaweed is ideal as it is organic and comes from a sustainable source. Do not over feed your freesias.
When in flower, keep them away for radiators and heat. Once the flowers fade, cut the flowering stem off and allow the foliage to die back naturally.
Always unpack on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
- Aphids: these sap-eating insects can weaken plants and spread viruses.
- Glasshouse red spider mites: these tiny sap-eating mites can cause the leaves to become mottled with pale spots. In extreme cases, affected plants may shed leaves and potentially perish. Since red spider mites thrive in dry, hot weather, regularly spray foliage with water to discourage any attacks and keep an eye out for tiny mites, eggs and cobwebs. Regularly dispose of any deceased plant material and debris to prevent risks of infestation.
- Dry rot: this fungal disease can cause wood decay and therefore impact the strength of your freesias. Symptoms include the appearance of white, fluffy coating, dark spots and cracks. If left untreated, the plant will eventually die.
- Fusarium wilts: ususally occuring when the soil is warm, these soil-borne fungal diseases can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the plant to wilt. Destroy any infected corms.