The Freesia Flower
The Freesia flower, a herbaceous member of the Iris family, is regarded as one of the most fragrant plants in the world. Freesias are grown for ornamental, as well as practical purposes and can be found in a wide variety of colors, as well as varying fragrances - some stronger than others. Freesia flowers are a beautiful bulb flower that is sure to brighten up your garden! It comes in many beautiful colors and has a very sweet fragrance that is sure to be enjoyable!
Freesias have been crossbred numerous times, and by many different cultures, which resulted in the development of a wide array of variations, all of which boast characteristics all their own.
The Freesia alba and Freesia leichteinii species became wildly popular after making their debut in the late 1800s, and they are still regarded as the most deliciously scented of all Freesia species.
There are 14 different species of Freesia flowers, and each one is just as beautiful and fragrant as the last. The Freesia plant is named for Dr. Freese of Kiel, Germany, who died in 1876, and following is a list of all the species that currently scent the world with their irresistible fragrance:
- Freesia andersoniae
- Freesia caryophyllacea
- Freesia corymbosa
- Freesia fergusoniae
- Freesia fucata
- Freesia grandiflora
- Freesia laxa
- Freesia leichtlinii
- Freesia occidentalis
- Freesia refracta
- Freesia sparrmannii
- Freesia speciosa
- Freesia verrucosa
- Freesia viridis
- Freesia alba
Although each variation grows well in hot, humid climates, the most frequently seen species in the United States are the Freesia Alba and the Freesia Laxa. So where did the Freesia come from?
The Freesia flower is a native of South Africa, and 12 of the 14 species originated in Cape Province. The remaining two, the Freesia viridis and the Freesia sparrmannii, are native to the African tropics. The Freesia fucata is the only species found north of the equator in Sudan.
Description and Characteristics
Few individuals can look at a Freesia flower and not feel their spirits lift just a little. Very ornate and artistic in their design, Freesias can feature up to 10 single or double flowers, which are complex bell-shaped blooms originating from a tuft of narrow and sparsely arranged leaves. The base of the flower's bloom is funnel-shaped, and the stems measure anywhere form 10-44 cm tall.
The plant is tender to the touch, which belies its tenacious personality, and features sword-shaped leaves. The stalks are slender and reach approximately one foot in height when fully grown.
The stem typically bends sharply so that the face of the bloom tilts upward, as if determined to be seen. Freesia flowers are undeniably the "individualists" of the plant world. Pink or white freesias probably come to mind first when discussing Freesias, but these flowers can also be found in the following colors:
- Dark Purple
This creates a vast array of choices when planning to use freesia bouquets for special events or weddings. Many of the colors were the result of cross breeding, and it is certainly realistic to think that there may be more colorful variations produced in the coming years.
Most of the world's flowers are associated with some significant meaning or symbolize one or more cultural or religious customs, and this is true for the Freesia flower, as well. Freesia flowers have long been the symbol of friendship and innocence.
The fragrant flower is also listed as the 7th wedding anniversary flower, making Freesia bouquets lovely gifts for such occasions. Many wedding cake designers feature this flower for the decorative "icing buds" that adorn most wedding cakes, which adds a whimsical touch to such cakes, or other tasty creations.
Cultivation and Care
Although native to South Africa, the Freesia plant is now widely grown in gardens all over the world. Freesias like a humid atmosphere, and prefer very warm temperatures. They thrive without much human involvement in areas like Florida, and other parts of the southeast.
They can also thrive in certain areas of the northeast during the hottest months of the year. They will freeze and die quickly when temperatures become cold, and will not thrive even in warm climates like the southwest, where the air is dry, rather than humid.
Those wondering how to plant Freesia bulbs properly will be pleased to discover that this is not a difficult task. The subsequent care and cultivation of the Freesia plant is also not a complicated endeavor as long as the gardener follows a few basic guidelines. The garden bed should be situated where it will receive direct sunlight as much as possible throughout the day.
Prior to planting, it is important that the soil be dry and even.The bulbs should be planted in clusters of four or five, at a minimum of four inches apart. They should be planted at a depth of about five inches with the face of the bulbs tilted upward. Bulbs placed in pots should be spaced two inches apart.
Immediately after planting, the garden bed should be watered until the top six inches of soil is moderately moist.Potted Freesias should be watered only until the excess moisture begins to drain slightly from the pot's bottom.Once the plant blooms, a soluble bulb fertilizer should be applied to the soil.
There is an old wives' tale that adding sugar to the water used to hydrate one's garden will help the plants to grow, but this is not sound advice. During the process of photosynthesis, plants manufacture all the sugar they need, so this is one case where mother nature is smarter than the gardener. To add household sugar to the water used to hydrate plants is ineffective and many times, harmful.
The garden's soil should be kept a bit moist from their planting until early summer when they flower. After the flowers have bloomed, the moisture should gradually be decreased until it is time to bring the plants into the house for the winter.
The best time to transplant the Freesia is late August or early September when the root system is well established, and a warm, east-facing window is the ideal place for a potted Freesia.
Diseases and Pests
Most insects and other garden pests are not partial to the Freesia flower, and they typically stay disease free with the appropriate care. However, the mosaic virus, if contracted, will quickly harm the plant at the root level, and if discovered, it is wise to remove the affected plants, as the mosaic virus spreads quickly.
The Freesia flower's strong scent is all part of its charm, and for this reason, many gardeners choose to add this flower to their repertoire. The species most commonly cultivated for its practical uses is the Freesia refracta, which was crossbred with the Freesia leichtlinii in the mid 1800s. Many cultivators have produced this species for the sole purpose of manufacturing shampoos, conditioners, and scented body lotions.
It is also widely used to scent perfumes and body sprays. The Freesia fragrance has recently gained popularity as a scented oil for use in vaporizers, smoke-free incense burners and manufacturing of scented candles and potpourri
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