Freesia is a native of South Africa and can be somewhat difficult to grow. They can be grown year-round outdoors in zone 9-11 where summers are dry and winters are sunny, cool and moist. The plants go dormant from the summer heat and return in the fall.
Grow Freesia outdoors
In cooler climates, plant the small corms in spring in full sun. Plant in well-drained, rich, sandy soil, 2″ deep and 3″ apart with tips up. Freesia grow best in daytime temperatures of 60-70F degrees and night temps of 50-60F. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. The foliage grow 20-30″ tall and may need staking to keep it from falling over. Freesia should bloom 110-120 days after planting and last up to 4 weeks. (Hopefully before the hot, wet summer).
When the sweet-fragrant flowers start to fade, pinch off the dry flower heads, fertilize and let the foliage continue to grow as it will replenish the corm with next years nutrients. The foliage will eventually brown and die back nautrally at which time you will need to dig up the corms and store them dry in a mesh or paper bag in a cool, dark place for next season. Same as gladiolus.
Grow Freesia in pots
Freesia can also be started as a potted houseplant from late summer to early winter (September-December). Plant in well-drained potting soil, 2″ deep and 1 ” apart with the tips pointed up. Plant 6-10 corms in a 6″ pot. Water in well, so that it drains from the bottom. Place in a cool (55-60F), dark or shaded place until new growth starts to show which may take about 2 weeks. When new growth emerges, move the pots to a bright sunny room or greenhouse. Feed a balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) every 2 weeks when plants begin to grow. Freesia require full sun and moist soil to bloom. It should take 12 weeks from sprout to bloom. For longest bloom, keep the plant in a bright, cool room.
Once finished blooming let the foliage brown and die back naturally or discard.
Forced freesia will be very difficult to rebloom in pots the following year but can be planted outdoors in zone 9-11.
Freesia makes an excellent cut flower and is often used in mixed bouquets. Flowers can have double or single blooms and come in a wide range of colors. Cut flowers when the first lower floret starts to open. Blooms will last up to a week.
Flowers are sensitive to ethylene.