Another scan of an oldish slide again but this time a little less archaic than yesterday since the conservatory is still there and looks much the same although I don’t have the freesias in there at the moment. Freesias are south African, tender corms that, like many plants from South Africa are winter growing.
There are about a dozen species which are all rather similar except for the few that used to be Anomatheca, such as A. laxa subsp. laxa which is a pretty plant with red, flat-faced flowers that is just about hardy because it grows in summer. It is a lovely plant for a rock garden that will self seed, flowering at about 15cm high.
The more traditional freesias are tender and are a common cut flower. They are easy to grow if you have a frost-free greenhouse and the easiest way to grow them is from seed. These should be sown in July/August and the planted potted up as they get bigger and they will flower in the following March which is how the plants above were grown. Once they have flowered and died down the corms can be kept to replant the following summer. The corms will make lots of tiny cormlets and you will have more than you need so it is best to keep only the biggest.
The main problem is lack of light in winter and I used to have the pots under grow lights to boost the light intensity but even so the plants need support with twigs or canes to keep them upright.
Of course I have been slightly misleading above because the easiest way to grow freesias is to buy corms in spring. But I do not like doing this. These are heat-treated corms that will flower in summer but this is not the natural growth sequence and the corms cannot be used again. I also find it rather unnerving to have freesias in bloom in summer and the flowers do not last as long because they are not used to the heat. Although freesias for spring are a bit more effort I like to enjoy them when outside there are just snowdrops and daffodils!