If you like the look of freesia flowers but wish you could find something similar that wasn’t quite so tall, you’re in luck! False freesia plants, a member of the Iridaceae family, can add a bright splash of red to the garden in late spring and early summer. Its shorter stature makes it ideal for borders and rock gardens. Plus, false freesia plant care is relatively easy! Learn how to grow false freesia in your garden.
What is False Freesia?
Also called scarlet freesia, false freesia plants have had various taxonomical classifications, including Lapeirousia laxa, Anomatheca laxa, Anomatheca cruenta, and Freesia laxa. This African native grows in a clump with spiky iris-like leaves. False freesia leaves stay around 8 inches (20 cm.) tall.
False freesia produces a cluster of six trumpet-shaped flowers per stem. Flower color can vary from white to shades of pinks and reds, depending on the variety. Blooms usually reach a height of about 12 inches (31 cm.).
How to Grow False Freesia Plants
False freesia plants prefer full sun and are winter hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. In these areas, planting false freesia corms in the fall is recommended. Sow the corms to a depth of 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.). False freesia can readily propagate from seeds and can become prolific to the point of being invasive. When needed, divide false freesia in the spring.
When planting false freesia corms outside of zones 8 to 10, they can be grown as annual garden flowers or in containers. Plant the corms in early spring. In the fall, bring containers inside or dig up the bulbs and store overwinter in a dry environment at a temperature of approximately 50 degrees F. (10 C.).
False freesia plants can also be started indoors from seeds and transplanted into the garden. Seed germination can take several weeks, so it’s recommended to start seeds two to three months before the final frost. Seeds form after flowering and can be collected by drying mature seed pods. Fresh false freesia seeds are bright orange or red in color. When starting false freesia from seeds, sow seeds to a depth of 1/8 inch (3 mm.).
False Freesia Plant Care
False freesia plant care is fairly simple with no reported issues from insects or disease. It’s a drought resistant flower, but requires moist, well-drained soil during its growing and blooming stages.
After blooming, false freesia plants enter a period of dormancy and the leaves die back. During dormancy, it prefers a drier substrate.
False Freesia Subspecies and Varieties
- Freesia laxa ssp. laxa – This is the most common subspecies. It flowers in late spring to early summer. Blossoms are bright red with darker red blotches on the bottom petals.
- Freesia laxa ssp. azurea – This blue flowering subspecies is a native of coastal regions where it grows in sandy soil.
- Freesia laxa ‘Joan Evans’ – A white flowering variety that has crimson splotches.
- Freesia laxa ‘Alba’ – A solid white flowering variety.
- Freesia laxa ‘Sara Noble’ – This lavender colored variety resulted from a cross between subspecies laxa and azurea.