No Flowers On A Freesia: How To Get Blooms On Freesia Plants
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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
The delicate, fragrant freesia is an outstanding corm with its colorful blooms and erect foliage. When a freesia won’t bloom, it can be frustrating but there are several possible reasons for this, and many of them can be easily corrected. No flowers on a freesia may stem from cultural, situational or physical causes. Some tips on how to get blooms on freesia can help you get on your way to growing these scented beauties.
Why Won’t My Freesia Bloom?
You’ve done everything right. You planted your freesia corms in well-draining soil, in full sun in spring, and they didn’t experience any hard freezes. Now you are asking, “Why won’t my freesia bloom.” Freesias are native to South Africa and prefer things hot and dry. In some regions, the conditions after planting are extremely wet due to spring rains. This can slow or even stop sprout production, but it may not be all that is going on.
Freesias require conditions like those in their native region for best flower production. The corms are not reliably hardy below USDA zone 8. They can be grown in zones down to 6 but will need to be lifted or planted in containers to protect them from winter temperatures.
It is actually a cool weather plant that needs nighttime temperatures of 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 13 C.) and 50 to 70 Fahrenheit (10 to 21 C.) during the day. The cooler temperatures help the plant form flowers, but in the north plants should be started indoors or in a greenhouse where they are protected from any freezes. In areas with extreme year-round heat, a freesia won’t bloom because it needs that cold experience to break dormancy.
Foliage but Freesia Not Flowering
If you have greenery, you are half way there. Established plants that develop foliage but not flowers may simply need to be divided. Dig up the corms and separate them, discarding any discolored or diseased material. Plant corms 2 to 3 times their length. Planting too deeply can also cause no flowers on freesia.
The corms should also be fertilized annually. Use bone meal or a high potassium feed in spring, once foliage is evident. Feed plants every two months during the growing season but suspend fertilizer in fall. Lack of nutrients is a common cause of freesias not flowering.
You should also let the foliage persist after the flowers have faded so the corms can store solar energy to fuel the next season’s growth.
Cultural Causes of Freesias Not Flowering
Freesia plants are slightly fussy about their site and care. If you are still wondering how to get blooms on freesia, make sure they are in a sunny location in well-draining soil. Add a bit of fine grit to areas that do not percolate well.
Once planted, freesias should be well watered but not again until sprouts appear. Corms usually sprout in one to three months depending upon site and variety. In containers, use a bulb planting mixture that will have all the necessary texture and nutrients for plant and flower formation.
Northern gardeners, especially, should start plants indoors where ambient temperatures are warm and then move the containers outside when it is evenly 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 C.).
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What to do with freesias after flowering?
Further detail about this can be seen here. Similarly, does freesia bloom more than once?
- Knowledgebase Question. Freesias bloom in the spring if planted outdoors in the fall, or they'll bloom indoors in the fall if planted in the spring. In your gardening region they will bloom in the spring if you leave the corms in the ground all year around.
Additionally, how do you deadhead freesias? Deadheading the flower heads extends the blooming season and life of the plant.
- Check the freesia plant daily for dead or wilting blossoms.
- Cut the flower bloom from the stem with bypass pruners or pinch the flower bloom from the stem with your thumb and forefinger just below the flower bloom head.
Herein, how do you care for freesias after flowering?
Once the plant has it's flowers removed, place the container in full sun and fertilize according to package directions. Leave the Freesia's in full sun for the next two to three months or until the leaves turn yellow. During this time, you should frequently water and refrain from disturbing the plant too much.
– Freesias are spread by offsets of bulbs and seeds. – To grow better, Freesia plants need full sun and cool night temperatures. – While the leaves and flowers are growing, make sure to keep the plant well watered.
Why Won't My Freesia Bloom - Reasons For Freesias Not Flowering - garden
Freesias are a member of the Iridaceae family. They were first found in Cape Province, South Africa, about 200 years ago by a German physician named Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese. Most of the varieties that thrive in California descend from just two of the many hybrids Dr. Freese discovered.
Freesia blooms grow along one side on a slightly branched stem with tuft-like narrow leaves. Most varieties reach about one foot in height.
Many flowers have ancient myths attached to them, but freesias, being of recent discovery, leave no tales in their wake. In modern florist language, freesias symbolize innocence and friendship and are the commemorative flower for the seventh wedding anniversary.
Like other plants indigenous to Mediterranean climates, freesias do best where winters are wet and summers are dry. Many favorite plants in Napa County gardens—perhaps some you grow—originated in southern Africa.
Freesias look best planted in groups or masses rather than in tidy little rows. They bloom pretty dependably 10 to 12 weeks after planting, so with careful planning, you can have blossoms in beds and pots throughout dreary winters and rainy springs. Read the labels at the nursery, however, because some propagators pre-force corms to provide blooms as early as five to eight weeks after planting.
While gardeners in most areas wait until March to plant freesias, Napa County has warm-enough winters to give us a jump on these colorful, fragrant blooms. You will see freesia corms in local nurseries this month.
Freesia corms are fragile, and the fresher, the better. Know where you intend to plant them before you head to the nursery to pick them out. For the most robust blooms, get them in the ground or into pots as soon as you can.
To plant in beds, prepare the soil about a foot deep. Make sure the bed drains well since standing water will rot the corms. Freesias prefer full sun or light morning shade but have done well almost everywhere I have planted them. Plant the corms two to four inches apart and two inches deep, then water the bed well.
Freesias also thrive in pots. Just fill the pots with good potting soil and plant the corms about an inch deep with their pointed ends up. Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Six corms will fit comfortably in a five-inch pot. Be sure to plant them where you can enjoy the sight of their arching, trumpet-shaped flowers and catch their wonderful scent.
Once foliage emerges, keep the beds or pots moist. Do not let the soil dry out until the flowers have faded and the foliage begins to yellow. You can deadhead the blossoms so your garden looks neat, but leave the foliage to die back naturally. The leaves provide the energy for the corms to store for next season's blooms. If your freesias are in pots, you can move them to a resting spot, out of sight, until they are ready to bloom again.
You can experience freesias indoors in two ways. You can force bulbs in dishes or pots, or you can enjoy the blooms as cut flowers in vases.
To grow freesias indoors, plant fresh corms an inch deep, pointed end up, in regular potting soil. Water well and find a sunny, south-facing window to perch them in. Expect your bouquet in 10 to 12 weeks.
When the show is done, let the pots dry out and start over. A favorite ceramic pot full of freesias is beautiful on a desk, on a kitchen windowsill, or in a sunny bathroom.
Long-lasting freesias are a lovely choice when you are ordering a bouquet from a florist for friends or family. With a change of water daily and a little floral preservative, freesias can look fresh and smell divine for up to three weeks.
Frustrated with Freesias?
Freesias: beautiful, fragrant, but not easy to grow in most areas.
Are you frustrated with freesias? Well, if you’re not, I certainly am. And even more frustrated when I click on websites that try to tell me how easy they are to grow. Of course, if you check on who’s writing the text, you quickly realize they are inevitably from Southern California, a lovely enough place, but most gardeners who read this blog are from much colder climates. So, if you’re from California, Florida, the Côte d’Azur, Australia, or anywhere else where temperatures rarely or barely dip below freezing in the winter, yeah, you certainly have the right to say “freesias are easy to grow”. For the rest of us, tain’t necessarily so.
But before going into why, here’s a description.
What is a Freesia?
The freesia commonly sold, Freesia x hybrida, is bulbous plant derived from wild species native to the Cape region of South Africa. It grows from a corm, producing a tuft of grasslike leaves. The white, yellow, orange, red, pink or purple trumpet flowers are very fragrant, an added attraction… at least, for those who can smell them. (About one person in ten is unable to smell the scent of freesias, a genetic trait of no apparent usefulness!)
Organizers wisely hold the annual Hachijohima Freesia Festival in March, when the flowers are in bloom, rather than in summer, when they are underground.
The plant, like most bulbs, has a cyclical growth habit: it grows part of the year and goes fully dormant the rest, losing both leaves and stems and disappearing underground for months at a time. Unlike most bulbs, though, it blooms neither in spring or nor summer, but in the winter. Under the Mediterranean climate of the Cape, the wild species sleep during the hot, dry summers, then burst into growth and bloom under cool, moist winters. In similar Mediterranean climates, or even just in climates with fairly dry summers and mild winters with little frost, you can plant freesias outdoors in the fall (not in spring) and they will sprout and grow when the rains come, thus blooming in winter, from about Christmas to March in the Northern Hemisphere, depending on conditions and the cultivar chosen.
Freesias do not adapt to climates with hot, humid summers followed by cold, freezing winters. Of course, you could bring the corms indoors over the winter, protecting them from frost, but it’s still not easy growing freesias in climates where summers are hot rather than cool, totally opposite to the conditions they knew in the wild.
On Sale Where They Won’t Bloom
Freesia corms packed for spring sales rarely give good results.
What brought this rant on (I do feel this piece is slipping from “blog” to “rant” status) is that my local garden center has put up a lovely display of summer bulbs, including dahlias, gladiolus, cannas, tuberous begonias and lots of other tender bulbs that will indeed grow well outdoors in colder climates during the summer. Then you bring them back indoors for the winter… and keep them going for decades, outdoors in the summer, indoors in the winter. Great plants. I approve.
But among the bulbs and corms and rhizomes on display now are packs of freesia corms. And they aren’t going to be so adaptable. Before they were shipped out, spring-sold freesia corms received a special cold treatment that is supposed to encourage them to bloom in the summer instead of the winter, but while that may work in areas with cool summers (Scandinavia, Labrador, Alaska, etc.), it doesn’t seem to make on iota of a difference in Chicago or Toronto where summers can be brutally hot.
In hot summer areas, it really doesn’t seem logical to sell freesia bulbs in spring. By the time they’re up and growing, it is really too warm for them outdoors, so they rarely bloom. And if they’re not going to bloom, why sell them?
Freesias being forced as cut flowers in a cold greenhouse.
Ideally freesia bulbs would be sold in the fall with the stipulation they have to be used as houseplants. Pot them up in October, give them intense light, water them regularly, keep things cool (about 45˚ to 55˚F/ 7 to 12˚C at night and not more than 68˚F/18˚C during the day), and they’ll bloom in midwinter or early spring. The only problem is finding a spot that is both cool and very sunny in the average home (you might try a room with large windows that is only heated enough to keep it from freezing). Professional growers of cut flower freesias have it easier: they pot up freesias in the fall and grow them in barely heated greenhouses, resulting in abundant, easy bloom.
In spite of this, in my area at least, the corms are only sold in the spring, when you can’t grow them, never the fall, when you might be able to.
A Possible Solution
Freesias started in pots indoors under cool conditions.
If you want at all costs try to grow freesias starting in the spring, it’s best to grow them in pots indoors. Pot them up as early in spring as you can to take advantage of naturally cooler conditions, placing about 4 or 5 corms in an 8-inch (20-cm) pot and barely covering them. Place the pot in front of a sunny but cool window. (You’ll find that freesias are among the rare indoor plants that actually appreciate air conditioning.) Water them normally, when the soil is dry to the touch. There is no need to fertilize them, as the corm already contains all the reserves necessary to ensure flowering. Staking will likely be needed: freesias are very floppy.
With any luck, the bulbs will flower about 12 weeks after they’re potted up. When they’re done, just toss them into the compost: given the stressful, unnatural conditions under which they were grown, freesia corms rarely bloom a second time.
The Easiest Solution
If you love freesias and live outside of a climate with mild winters, by far the easiest way of enjoying is to buy them as cut flowers. Let greenhouse growers bother with the exacting care they need and simply enjoy their lovely scented flowers!
If planted in good soil or compost, they will not require feeding. Flowering takes around 100-120 days from planting.
Both in the garden and in pots, they will need support to keep the foliage and flowering stems upright as they grow. In pots you can use special round supports, which are held on a central cane, but a triangle or square of canes would do the job just as well. In the garden, use twiggy end branches of silver birch or hazel.
Freesias are not fully hardy, so you are usually recommended to lift the plants in the autumn, either when the leaves yellow, or after the first frost. Cut the stems back to 1in and allow the corms to dry. Remove the old, shrivelled portion, keeping only the new plump corms. These store easily in coir, dry potting compost or sand. Keep them in a cool, dry, frost-free place. Plant again, when the ground begins to warm in late April. Stagger plantings to extend the flowering season.
The yellows, blues and whites have a longer vase-life than the reds and pinks, with some lasting 3 weeks when cut in bud. Either bought or home-made, flower food is worth it with freesias. Use one teaspoon of thick bleach and two of a thick sugar syrup to 1 litre of water, or two small flower food sachets. This extends the vase life by as much as 20%, helps the buds to develop and is said to enhance scent.