Anomatheca laxa
Common Name: anomatheca
Type: Bulb
Family: Iridaceae
Native Range: Southern Africa, Mozambique
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. Corms are not reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area where they may be planted in the ground in late winter/early spring and then dug up in autumn after first fall frost for winter storage indoors in a cool dry location (somewhat as one would do with gladiolus). In autumn, dig up corms, slice off tops and dry them before setting them in a minimally misted dry medium (vermiculite/peat) for overwintering at a temperature around 50 degrees F. Mist the vermiculite/peat during the winter only to prevent it from totally drying out. Corms may also be grown in containers. Container soils should be allowed to dry in autumn, with containers then brought inside for overwintering after first frost. Notwithstanding the recommended growing zones, it is of note that corms of this plant may survive mild winters in St. Louis if they are planted in protected garden areas (e.g., southern edge of a home) and given a good winter mulch. The soil around the corms must be dry and must not freeze in winter. In USDA Zones 8-10, corms may be planted directly in the ground (2-4” deep) in autumn or late winter in a rich, well-drained, sandy soil in full sun. Although plants may perform best with moderate but consistent moisture during the growing season, they go dormant after flowering and require dryish soil during dormancy including over winter. In warm winter climates, plants may be propagated by division and will naturalize by reseeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to grasslands in South Africa, Anomatheca laxa is a cormous perennial of the Iris family. Each corm produces a clump of flat, grass-like, basal leaves (to 8” tall) with a succession of late spring/early summer, cylindrical flowering stems (to 12” tall) featuring racemes of upward-facing, six-tepaled, starry, trumpet-shaped flowers (to 6 flowers per raceme). Flowers (to 1” wide) are red with dark red splotches at the bases of the lower three tepals. The foliage dies back as plants go dormant after flowering. Synonymous with and formerly known as Anomatheca cruenta, Lapeirousia laxa, Lapeirousia cruenta and Freesia laxa. This plant has no generally accepted common name, but is sometimes called scarlet freesia.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

In St. Louis, grow in containers or dig corms in fall for overwintering. In areas where winter hardy, grow in borders or rock gardens.