Schizostylis - friend or foe!!

David Fenwick
Sun, 23 Feb 2003 00:54:21 PST
>>>>>I try to warn them that it is as hard to eradicate as the old

Hi All,
Well thats two nails in the coffin for Crocosmia now during this topic so
now I must reply.

Most people will know that like Alan, the collection holder of Schizostylis,
I am the NCCPG National Collection holder of Crocosmia with Chasmanthe. The
remark Shirley made is very common, (nothing personal Shirley), it reports
correctly to a few varieties of Crocosmia, but the rest of the genus should
not be given a bad name because of the few.

Indeed, they do have a bad name in many areas, including the UK, and due to
the horticultural spread and frequency of Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora.
However lets face it, man, has let them escape from gardens in the first
place, and these have been left to invade.

There are other reasons why Crocosmia are thugs. The main reason effecting
the USA is that most of the commercial propagation of Crocosmia has come
from Holland. Here crocosmia are produced by the billion each year, and are
sold to both UK and US markets. A lot of the varieties that are raised, may
be raised from seed, and therefore not true to type, their vigour unknown;
but most of these hybrids are grown commercial for their ease of production,
and I've heard of Crocosmia being sold wholesale in Holland for as little as
$10 per 1000 corms.

Hybrids that I suggest should be avoided include:

Crocosmia masoniorum - as this has been substituted in commercial growing by
the hybrid called Crocosmia 'Marcotijn', which is one of the most vigorous
forms, producing many small brittle rhizomes and very small corms.

Crocosmia pottsii and its hybrids - Incidentally I have a clump of C.
pottsii that Martyn Rix found in the wild in South Africa, this has spread
two feet in seven years. However horticultural pottsii cultivars will travel
two miles in seven years, and again produce many small brittle rhizomes and
very small corms. Vigorous hybrids include, Red Star, Princess, Meteore and
Red King. However these vigorous forms make very good landscape plants in
large gardens and around lakes etc.

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora and its seed varients - I say seed varients and
'note', not its hybrids, because botanists will tell you that Crocosmia x
crocosmiiflora is sterile. However it is not and it produces seed at
temperatures of 17C and less. Hence its spread in cooler more maritime
areas. These varients can be problematic, as many have even more vigour than
the parent, one of them with me, covered a 3 meter square area in 18 months
from a single corm. Fortunately they all look similar to Crocosmia x
crocosmiiflora, the common montbretia.

Some of the best varieties of Crocosmia are not seen in the US, and the
reason for this is that it is not economical for the larger Dutch Nurseries
to produce and export them in sufficient numbers.

People in Zones 6-9 could grow the more vigorous varieties, and for reasons
of hardiness and vigour. However people in these areas would be better off
growing Crocosmia masoniorum and Crocosmia paniculata hybrids, as the
parents come from higher altitudes and colder regions of their native South
Africa. The corms are usually also much larger and can therefore be planted
much deeper, thus protecting them against frost. Good available forms
include 'Lucifer', 'Jupiter' and 'Severn Sunrise'.

People in Zone 9 and above should try those hybrids of Crocosmia x
crocosmiiflora that have larger flowers, as these have more Crocosmia aurea
blood in them, and these come from much warmer regions, however they prefer
semi-shade and a soil rich in humus. Many of these hybrids were developed in
the early 20th century and are now endangered because of their lack of
hardiness and spread, but were and are 'the' most garden worthy forms for a
warmer climate. Crocosmia 'Star of the East' is one of these, but Crocosmia
x crocosmiiflora 'Hades', an Earlham Giant can be found on sale in
California also. There is also another variety recently named called
Crocosmia aurea 'Golden Ballerina', a large flowered aurea form, and this
should be tried to when it becomes available. Crocosmia 'Star of the East'
is offered across the US, eg. by Tony at Plant Delights, Heronswood and Joy
Creek. Heronswood also offer Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora 'Mrs. Geoffrey
Howard', and Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora 'Zeal Tan', good large reds; and Joy
Creek offer Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora 'Kathleen' syn. 'Queen of Spain' a
large burnt orange.

The only Dutch imported ones I would really recommend would be 'Emily
McKenzie' (if true to type, seedlings exist), 'Plaisir', 'Voyager' and
'Babylon'; and remember the larger flowered forms are excellant plants for
pot culture on the patio.

To conclude, like Alan with his Schizostylis, many of the plants that we are
looking for, are either lost to cultivation, and are therefore extinct, but
remain optimistic that some of the older, larger flowered and perhaps 'less
vigorous' forms remain lost in cultivation, and just need finding and
identifying correctly. Being collection holders / researchers and
collectors, 'hence in a word 'guardians'; our work involves the acquisition
of knowledge and the correct promotion of this knowledge for the greater
good of both plants and gardening.

Photos of Crocosmia hybrids and species can be found on my website at:

Or for those interested in Crocosmia history and conservation, I have just
produced a new website on Crocosmia called The Norwich in Bloom Crocosmia
Project. About 40% of all Crocosmia hybrids have been raised in the Norfolk
area of the UK and with our support the community are now looking for their
lost heritage. The site can be found at.

Best Wishes,

David Fenwick
NCCPG National Collection of Crocosmia with Chasmanthe and Tulbaghia
The African Garden
96 Wasdale Gardens

----- Original Message -----
From: "Shirley Meneice" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 5:08 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Schizostylis - friend or foe!!

> Paul, I second your findings of Schizostylis, aka Hesperantha.  Everyone
> sees it in bloom wants some for his or her garden.  I try to warn them
that it
> is as hard to eradicate as the old Crocosmia.  I pull whenever the ground
> soft, so I can get the runners as well as the parent plants.  I still have
> jillions to entrance my friends and neighbors when they persist in
> each year.  This is in USDA Zone 9 in Pebble Beach, California, on
> not-too-well-drained partially decomposed granite.  They are content with
> sun, partial sun, and full shade.  I began with a 1 gallon plant that has
> spread over most of a half acre in spite of what I can do to discourage
> Round-up would probably work, but I am not into that.  SO --beware!
>     Shirley Meneice
> Paul Tyerman wrote:
> > Howdy All,
> >
> > I have to chuckle a bit about everyone trying to find the different
> > and varieties of so many things that I grow.  Aren't we collectors
> > <grin>.
> >
> > Schizostylis however is NOT one of the things I am looking for, in fact
> > am still trying to get rid of the darn thing.  S. coccinea, a white form
> > and a pink form used to be a part of my garden, until the red in
> > started to spread like the wind.  I started having visions of
> > Crocosmias/Montbretias (which grow very well here, thankfully the named
> > varieties are a little slower..... but I STILL grow them all in pots)
> > removed them.  By time I did there were runners out to over 1 metre from
> > the original plant in the red and 40-50cm for the other two.  2 years
> > I am still getting seeds or dormant pieces still appearing in that
> > and every one is dutifully removed as soon as I see it.
> >
> > Thankfully none of the Hesperanthas I grow appear to run (or at least
> > couple I have do not) and I just love the Hesperantha falcata with the
> > purity of it's white blooms with the fascinating arrangement of stamen
> > an angle.  Very striking if you can actually remember to catch it open
> > the evening or the early morning.  For ages I kept finding shrivelling
> > flowers but I finally managed to catch one open on afternoon and after
> > I saw them regularly.  As far as I can tell this one doesn't run at all,
> > although it does seed but hasn't appeared anywhere else as yet.  I was
> > surprised that the Schizostylis had been shifted into Hesperantha given
> > their somewhat different structure (to me) and tendency to send out
> > underground runners, but there are other genus where the species vary
> > considerably in this count.
> >
> > In a nutshell..... Hesperantha are lovely and Schizostylis are a 4
> > word <grin>.  I very nearly bought a Hesperantha coccinea at one point
as I
> > thought it was another species that I didn't have...... thankfully it
> > explained what it was before I found out the hard way <big grin>.
> > Obviously out climate here suits it nicely as I have not noticed anyone
> > else mentioning how much of a pest it can become.  I think that we here
> > the best of numerous worlds as in protected areas we can grow frost
> > plants outside, yet still grow those things that require some cold to
> > and flower ideally (Aaaah, my beloved Galanthus, Fritillarias,
> > Erythroniums, Crocus etc.....)
> >
> > Cheers.
> >
> > Paul Tyerman
> > Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9
> >
> >
> > Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Cyclamen, Crocus,
> > Cyrtanthus, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about anything
> > else that doesn't move!!!!!
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > pbs mailing list
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> pbs mailing list

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