Pond plants

Montbretien: planting, care and pruning


Montbretien reflect delicate beauty in nostalgic charm. These plants, from the Iris family, are very demanding to care for.

With their fiery colors and striking flowers, Montbretien make the herbaceous beds glow in late summer - © WolfBlur - pixabay.com

Can you still remember Grandma's garden? Perhaps they also noticed a perennial at that time, the closely spaced leaves of which stand out like elongated lancets and whose panicles of flowers glow red or orange in midsummer.

The perennial, whose name is widely known as Montbretie, appears delicate. In the gardening trade, more and more tubers or plants of the perennial are already being offered in pots under their botanical name "Crocosmia".

Be that as it may, the delicate beauty among the perennials is and remains an appealing classic in any hobby garden.

The Montbretie in detail

The popular perennial among the iris family can be classified. Many types and varieties are reminiscent of gladiolus. Hence the German name “Abyssinian Gladiolus”.

Your ancestral home is located in the highlands of southern Africa. In Central Europe, Montbretia are only partially hardy. New varieties have become more robust and are more likely to brag mild winters.

The flowers of the Montbretie are lined up on two sides on the curved panicles - © eqroy - Fotolia.com

In early summer, the attractive lily-like leaves give the perennial border a pleasant appearance. Between July and October, depending on the variety, the Crocosmia blooms light red, dark red, orange or yellow. The individual funnel-shaped flowers are lined up on the panicle on both sides and give the perennial an exotic appearance.

The height of the Montbretie is also dependent on the variety. It is between 60 and 100 centimeters.

Montbretie in the bed - © ClaraNila - Fotolia.com

You can impressively combine the crocosmia in the herbaceous border with other summer bloomers. Bedding compositions with the safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), some types of spurge (Euphorbia), the garden scented nettle (Agastache) and the summer daisy (Leucanthemum maximum) have an advantageous effect.

Montbretia are also suitable as cut flowers. They stay in the vase for a long time. However, most flowers on the reed should already be open. If you cut the inflorescence beforehand, i.e. almost buddingly, the graceful flower will no longer bloom.

Montbretie location tip

Choose a sunny and sheltered location for Montbretien. The delicate plant also takes up a half-shaded spot. It is best to locate the plant on a south-facing house wall or hedge planting. It is longer warm there and the perennial is essentially protected from cold winds.

Demands on the floor

The cocosmia thrives in almost every garden floor. Simply loosen the soil sufficiently. If the soil is heavy and clayey, mix a good portion of sand under it. It is important that the soil is well drained for your Montbretians, because in moist soils the roots and tubers rot quickly.

If you have the desire to cultivate this handsome bulbous plant on the terrace, then you need a large bucket. However, you should lay out a 2.5 to 3 centimeter high grit or pebble layer on the bottom of the planter as drainage. Then fill a permeable plant substrate over it.

Plant Montbretia properly

  1. The tubers can be planted in the ground in late April / early May. The planting depth is estimated to be three times the tuber size, approximately 8 to 20 centimeters. If you live in a region where the climate is harsher, take the bulbs deeper as a precaution. How to protect them from late frosts.
  2. The Montbretie comes into its own when you plant it as a group or in rows along a path. The planting distance to each other is about 10 to 20 centimeters
  3. It is recommended to add compost to the excavated soil, as this will give the plant the best possible growth. After planting the bulbs in the soil, water them vigorously.
  4. Cover the planting site with leaves or coniferous twigs. Frosts that can damage the tubers can often be expected until May.
  5. For the container planting, you can take over the planting depth and planting distance just mentioned. Protection against late frosts is not necessary as you will certainly be placing the bucket in a protected room at this time.

In spring, Crocosmia only sprout when the soil has warmed up a bit. The first green of the Montbretien seedlings will appear in mid to late May.

Water Montbretie and fertilize additionally

  1. Water the Montbretie really enough in summer. After all, the dainty bulbous plant from its native country is used to wet summers. Water at the latest when the surface of the earth is about 2 centimeters dry.
    You can preferably use rain water from the bin for watering. The new varieties also tolerate calcareous tap water. The soil should be moist but not wet. Exuberant watering can lead to waterlogging. Root and tuber blight are the result.
  2. If you fertilize your crop with a slow release fertilizer in the spring, it will bloom beautifully in the summer. Crocosmia growing in a bucket should preferably be given a liquid fertilizer weekly.

Do Montbretien need a pruning?

Absolutely. The herbaceous perennials will not be cut back radically until autumn, when the plant has withered. This affects above all the Montbretien, which have to be relocated to the winter quarters. To do this, cut off all parts of the Montbretie plant above ground a few centimeters above the ground. However, as long as the leaves are still green, you should refrain from doing so, since the plant still breathes with its leaves and thus strengthens the rhizomes in the soil with nutrients for the winter.

Otherwise, use pruning shears ...

  • … To regularly remove wilted flower panicles from the perennial.
  • ... to avoid unwanted seed formation. Faded panicles are cut just above the foliage.
  • ... to cut flowering panbrush panicles as vase jewelry. However, the lower flowers on the panicle should have just opened.

Pests of the Montbretie are: mice and sucking insects

Montbretian tubers, like other flower bulbs, are a favorite food for mice. But you can protect the bulbs by planting them in wire baskets that let them into the ground. A close-knit "rabbit wire" would be an alternative. Unfortunately, such locks do not offer absolute security against mouse attacks, since rodents usually also bypass them. Ultimately, live traps can also help.

Occasionally, thrips (bladderfeet) can haunt the perennial. Affected plants are usually inhibited in their growth. If thrips have attacked their crocosmia, shower the perennials with a hard jet of water and then treat them with a biological pesticide.

Except for root or tuber blight due to waterlogging, the exotic plants are relatively immune to diseases.

Winter in Montbretia

How you hibernate your Crocosmia depends entirely on the climatic conditions in your region. In areas where there has always been a mild winter, the tubers can overwinter in the ground. Wilted shoots and leaves should only be removed in spring. To be on the safe side, cover the location of your exotic perennials with foliage and, moreover, with coniferous twigs.

In locations with a harsh climate and strong frosts, you should dig out the rhizomes and store them in a dark, cool but frost-free room. Leave as much soil on the tubers as possible to protect the sensitive side shoots (Stolon) from drying out. Stolons are important for the flowering shrub. The flower panicles sprout from them the following year.

Important: Only store healthy tubers. Rhizomes that are sick or infested with pests are immediately sorted out and disposed of with household waste.

Summary: Montbretien not only have a nostalgic character in the garden, they are also very popular because of their shrubby growth and delicate flower shape. The plant loves sunny and sheltered places. Likewise a permeable garden floor. In summer you should keep the Crocosmia moist regularly. With a slow release fertilizer, fill the nutrient depot in the soil sufficiently in spring. Make sure that winter protection is appropriate depending on the climatic conditions of individual regions.