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Only a few are naturally occurring freesia species, all common in southern Africa, in the province of Cape; in the garden we usually find hybrids and cultivars of the freesia refracta species, of golden yellow color, intensely scented.
The freesia refracta hybrids can be found in a wide range of colors, from white to yellow, from orange to purple, from pink to deep purple; the cultivated species of freesia refracta are not as perfumed as the botanical species, but they nevertheless emit an unmistakable aroma, also used in the composition of perfumes.
The small corms, generally of a size close to 5-9 cm in diameter, produce long pale green spadiform leaves in spring, which develop into small tufts, 20-30 cm long; in late spring between the leaves rise thin slightly fleshy stems, which bear about ten flowers, gathered in clusters, in the shape of large, intensely colored bluebells; there are also cultivars with spotted, zoned or striated flowers.
To obtain an abundant flowering it is advisable to place the corms in the autumn, so that they begin to develop as soon as the climate becomes mild. Unfortunately the corms of freesia they fear frost, and should never be placed at temperatures below 3-5 ° C; for this reason they are planted in the ground without protection only in the areas of Italy where winters are fairly mild, and the minimum temperatures are never too cold. In the rest of Italy the freesias are cultivated in a container, so as to be able to place the pots in a cold greenhouse, or in any case in a sheltered place, as soon as the temperatures fall below zero.
If desired, it is also possible to place the freesias at the end of winter, when the risk of frost is now past, even if this practice often leads to late blooms not too abundant.
Therefore it is advisable to always plant the bulbs of freesia in autumn, possibly repairing them with mulch, and placing them in a place where they are not subjected to the cold wind.
Watering and soil
Since the corms begin to develop the foliage we can supply watering to our plants, avoiding the excesses; in fact freesias come from fairly dry areas, and need water only when the soil is dry.
Surely the growing substrate must be dissolved and very well drained; at the end of winter we supply a slow release granular fertilizer, repeating the operation after 4/5 months.
After flowering the foliage will remain luxuriant for a few weeks; we can remove corms from the soil only after the leaves are completely yellowed and dried, to allow the plant to store enough nourishment for the following year's flowering.
Freesia - Freesia refracta: Pests and diseases
These bulbous plants can be affected by aphids and mites, which attack the flowers, ruining the splendid flowering. If you notice any signs of these problems, it is advisable to intervene promptly with the use of specific pesticide products, or with natural preparations based on garlic or nettle, to be sprayed on the affected specimens.