Crocosmia — a staple of Victorian-era gardens — sway atop long, swordlike foliage resembling ornamental grass. Also known as falling stars or montbretia, crocosmia’s fiery red and orange blossoms are rich in symbolism and cultural significance. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about Crocosmia flower meaning in the language of flowers.
The genus name comes from the Greek word for “saffron,” or kronos, and the Greek word osme, or “smell.” This is thought to refer to the flower’s saffron-like scent.
Crocosmia flowers were long prized in their native southern Africa, where they were used to make yellow dyes. They were introduced to Europe in the 18th century by the French botanist Antoine François Ernest Conquebert de Montbret. He traveled with Napoleon through regions of Africa and brought crocosmia corms back to France with him.
In the 1800s, another French botanist, Victor Lemoine, developed the first hybrids of crocosmia. The plants exploded in popularity, and hundreds of hybrids were cultivated.
Crocosmia Flower Meaning in Floriography
By the Victorian era, the crocosmia flower was a must in the garden. They were often grown alongside their “cousins,” cannas and dahlias. Crocosmia carries the following symbolic meanings in the language of flowers:
Crocosmia is often seen as a symbol of passion and intense emotions. The fiery colors of its flowers, such as orange and red, represent the burning flame of love and desire.
Crocosmia is associated with courage and bravery. Its vibrant and bold presence in the garden symbolizes strength and the willingness to take risks.
The tall and upright flower spikes of Crocosmia signify a sense of adventure and exploration. The plant’s vertical growth and dynamic presence evoke a spirit of excitement and a desire for new experiences.
Crocosmia’s unique and striking appearance is often seen as a symbol of creativity and artistic expression. The vibrant colors and distinctive form of its flowers inspire imagination and innovation.
The flowers were associated with confidence, emotional strength, and warmth.
Popularity in the mid-20th Century
After World War I and II, crocosmia flowers declined in popularity for a very practical reason: the wars caused a shortage of workers, and the need to convert flower-growing fields to food crop-growing fields further reduced demand.
Even after the World Wars ended, the trend of simpler flower borders — rather than the intricate perennial borders favored in the pre-war Victorian era — meant that crocosmia remained out of favor. Many hybrids were lost during this time.
An accident brought crocosmia back into favor. In the mid-1960s, the UK had an exceptionally cold winter, and the ground froze for an extended period. At that time, it was thought that crocosmia wasn’t very hardy and could only survive in mild climates. This necessitated the development of many hybrids, which were lost after the wars.
But after the great freeze, aptly-named botanist Alan Bloom was thrilled to discover that two crocosmia hybrids had survived the cold just fine. He got to work and crossed the two, resulting in ‘Lucifer.’ This cultivar grew to 5 feet tall and bloomed with firey red flowers, and it was a hit.
The success of ‘Lucifer’ led to the development of many more equally hardy crocosmia hybrids available today in shades of red, orange, and yellow.
The Crocosmia Flower – Wrapping Up
Firey, warm crocosmia add a touch of bright drama to the landscape. These popular and symbolic flowers are easy to grow and require little maintenance. It’s no surprise that they’ve been popular for decades. With associations of warmth, confidence, and emotional strength, they’re a great addition to floral arrangements and the garden.