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A genus of 14 to 16 flowering plants within the Iridaceae, or Iris family, the Freesia is native to Africa.12 of the genus are native to the South Africa and the remaining two are native to tropical Africa, extending as far north of the equator as Sudan.
Named by Dr. Freese of Kiel Germany and typically very fragrant, the Freesia blooms in spike-like racemes with slender, sword-like leaves and flowers which bloom into narrow funnel-shaped blooms. Some species are veined with petals in two colors, can grow up to one foot in height and can bloom with as many as eight flowers on the top of each stalk. Also ideal as cut florist flowers, when cut, the freesia flowers last around a week. Freesia blooms range in color from white, to shades of yellow, red and mauve.
The Freesia plant grows from a corm which is a solid bulb that features a thin, papery skin. Freesias do best grown in southern and coastal regions, but with care and attention can also be grown in colder areas, especially if dug up and replanted in the spring.
Outdoors, the Freesia requires well-drained soil and full sun. Plant Freesia bulbs about two inches deep and three inches apart from each other. After planting, soak with water and then once buds appear, water regularly once or twice a week during flowering. When flowering has finished, reduce watering gradually to dry them off. Then, after flowering season, allow flowers to slip into dormancy and let leaves to die back on their own before removing. Corms can be dug up and stored for replanting.
Freesias can also be grown as houseplants. For potted freesias, pot in well-drained soil and place in a spot where the flowers will benefit from full day sun. When potted, bulbs should be planted two inches deep and two inches apart.
(Images provided by AFIF)