Freesias are spring flowers that are well known for their elegant appearance, lively colours and unmistakable scent.
Much used in cosmetics for the creation of perfumes and appreciated for the composition of bridal bouquets or as cut flowers for elegant and original creations, the freesias are perfect flowers to grow in pots or in the garden.
Freesias are perennial bulbous herbaceous plants native to South Africa and cultivated in all the temperate zones of the Earth and in almost all the Italian regions.
They belong to the Iridaceae family and include about fifteen varieties and numerous hybrids and cultivars.
In fact, to the classic white freesias are added the yellow freesias and those with pink, red, orange, purple or blue flowers, in crossings created by Dutch growers, specializing in the cultivation of freesia.
The most cultivated species in our country is the Freesia refracta, with its characteristic yellow flowers, but also the Fresia alba and the Fresia corymbosa, also called fresia rosa, suitable for pot cultivation.
Freesias: Botanical Characteristics
Freesias are herbaceous plants that can reach 50 cm.
They are born from bulbs or rhizomes, firmly anchored to the ground thanks to a long whitish root and from which emerge lanceolate leaves of a bright green colour and rather fleshy.
They bloom from mid spring to late summer, depending on the climate, developing, from the centre of the leaves, a thin erect stem, from which small bell-shaped flowers are born, grouped in clusters of different colours, according to the selected variety and with a very intense perfume.
They produce large, round seeds with a high germination capacity.
In the language of flowers, freesias symbolize lasting friendship and platonic love.
However, as we do not have any reliable data about the origin of this plant, in southern Europe freesias are associated with the fascination for the unknown and represent the mystery and are given on the occasion of a blind date.
In northern Europe, on the other hand, they represent nostalgia and memory for their sweet, penetrating scent.
The freesias do not require particular cultivation practices and are well suited to both pot and outdoor cultivation.
You can start the cultivation of the freesias either from the seeds or by division of the bulbs, also called corms.
- Freesias are sown in late spring, between April and the beginning of May.
- Leave the seeds to soak in hot water for a day, so as to soften the outer cuticle and promote rooting.
- Place the seeds in a pot or in the ground at a depth of 1 cm.
- Keep the soil constantly moist until the shoots appear.
- Know that plants grown from seed take three years to bloom.
Cultivation For Bulbs
- The cultivation through the bulbs is the most widespread and is carried out in autumn.
- Get the bulbs from a good nursery, choose them carefully and avoid those that are too soft, because they could be damaged. If you already have a grown specimen, separate the bulbs that have grown laterally to the mother corm.
- Keep the bulbs in a cool place and in a paper bag until planting. Bulbs that you buy already packaged, are usually dehydrated, so so soak them in a bowl of water for a few hours before sowing.
- Plant the bulbs with the tips pointing upwards, in holes 3-4 cm deep and twice the diameter of the bulbs, in rows of about 10 cm apart.
- Cover with soft, moist soil.
The freesias prefer a soft soil, well drained and rich of organic substance.
The universal mould is good, with addition of peat and sand for facilitating the outflow of the water.
Climate and Exposure
Freesias need a lot of light to flourish.
They should be placed in bright, sunny places for many hours a day, protected from draughts and temperature changes.
Freesias fear frost and for this reason in regions with very cold winters it is preferable to grow them in pots, so that they can be sheltered indoors during the growing season and thus avoid levelling the bulbs.
The freesias are to be watered regularly every 3-4 days during the whole flowering period.
Do not give too much water and avoid water stagnation, which can cause root rot and promote the appearance of grey mould.
The reference metre is the soil, which must never be dry and arid, but not even too humid. Rainwater may be sufficient for freesias cultivated directly in the ground.
When the plant begins to wilt, watering should be suspended.
At the time of planting, the freesias must be fertilized with a slow release granular fertilizer.
During the growing season, a potassium-rich flowering fertiliser for flowering plants should be administered every two weeks together with the irrigation water to promote abundant flowering.
The scientific name fresia derives from F.H.T. Freese, a German doctor who lived in the 19th century, a great scholar and lover of the spontaneous flora of the African continent.