This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 17, 2014

Growing freesia in Phoenix, Arizona

If you drive around Phoenix, Arizona, you won't see any freesia. You certainly won't see it in my front yard. That's because freesia, which does well here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, is a backyard plant. Please let me explain.

Freesia is not a huge, showy flower. It's not terribly small, but it's on a scale that works well with human beings, not driveways and streets. It also requires constant care once it starts blooming. The freesia that I have here, which I got as bulbs years ago, have blooms that are too heavy for their stalks to hold. Which means that as soon as I see flower buds begin to form, I have to start tying the stalks to little bamboo stakes. And if the flowers get really tall, I have to do another stake. A labor of love, for sure, but not something that you want to have in your front yard. It's something to putter with while you have your morning coffee.

In addition to staking, freesia need to be constantly cleaned. That is, the spent blooms need to be pulled off and disposed of. And once a particular stalk has finished blooming, it needs to be cut down.

To grow freesia here, plant it in September. Plant in good potting soil with plenty of slow-release dry plant food mixed in. I also add some moisture crystals, or I use the potting soil that already has it in there. And it's good to be generous with the water. The foliage starts growing right away, which is an attractive tropical foliage. The blooms start in late February and go through March. I planted some in full sun, which are the first to bloom, but the ones in slight shade (like in the photo) are doing even better. They get morning sun, but that's it. Once it's past noon, they are in the shade of the house. But there's still enough sunlight for them to bloom.

Yeah, freesia are a lot of trouble. And every year I say that I won't bother. But I lie. And did I mention that they smell great, too?
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