Freesia is a perennial plant that is a member of the Iris family. Freesia is an excellent houseplant or can be used as cut flowers for display indoors because of its beautiful blooms, long stems and sweet fragrance. Freesia flowers symbolise innocence and friendship and are available in a wide variety of colours.
Freesia is named after Dr. Frederick Freese, a 19th century physician and botanist. He discovered freesia when he was studying plants in South Africa. There are 14 varieties of freesia, all native to Africa. Freesia grows from a crom, or solid bulb, that is planted in late August or early September. The tender shoots grow into thin, iris-like leaves. Up to eight blooms may grow on each stalk. The flowers are funnel-shaped and vary in colour from red, white, pink, lavender and yellow. Freesia varies in height from 15 to 24 inches tall.
Freesia is most often grown indoors in containers but can be grown in the garden under the correct conditions. The flowers are a popular choice in bouquets because of the long stems and fragrant blooms. Freesia has a light, sweet, floral scent. Essence oil of freesia is used in soaps, scented candles, potpourri and body oils.
Freesia bulbs are planted in late August or early September. The first blooms begin to appear around Christmas and continue until March or April. By the middle of April, no buds remain on the freesia plant. The bulbs should be stored for use the following year.
Freesia grows best in mild temperatures. Excessive heat or frost will destroy the delicate blooms. In containers, the bulbs should be planted closely together so that the stalks provide support for each other. A 5-inch pot can hold between six and eight bulbs. Freesia grows best with abundant light. If grown indoors, freesia pots should be placed near a cool, sunny window. Freesia does well in a mixture composed of soil, sand, compost and peat moss. Freesia needs regular watering during the growing period. The soil should be moist but not soggy. The bulbs should not be watered during the dormant period over the summer.
Freesia is relatively disease-free but is susceptible to bacterial soft rot and dry rot. Sucking insects such as aphids, bulb mites and thrips are attracted to freesia. These insects can transmit bacteria and viruses to freesia plants.