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Summer fireworks.

Flaunting sprays of splashy flowers in a range of fiery shades over sword-shaped leaves, Crocosmia and its hybrids are summer show-offs. Native to southern Africa, these perennials, which grow from corms, thrive in well-drained soil amended with compost. They can get by on little water but do best if given regular irrigation during growth and bloom. In the hottest climates, they need partial shade.

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The original hybrid is Crocos-mia x crocosmiiflora, commonly called montbretia, which bears crimson-orange flowers, 1 1/2 to 2 inches across, over 2- to 3-foot plants. Among the many other hybrids is 'Lucifer' (bright red flowers on 4-ft. plants; shown at left). The species C. masoniorum bears flaming orange to scarlet-orange flowers on top of arching stems.

If you want to try growing Crocosmia in cold climates (where temperatures fall below 10[degrees] and the ground freezes), you'll need to dig up corms every fall; store in a frost-free place for winter, and replant in spring.
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Title Annotation:NORTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE; splashy flowers
Author:McCausland, Jim
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:162
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