Crocosmia varieties: 16 gorgeous types of montbretia to try

These fiery crocosmia varieties add exotic elegance and vibrancy to borders, containers and the cutting garden

James Coey crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display
Crocosmia varieties like ‘James Coey’ add a fiery display in mid-to-late summer
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There are so many dynamic crocosmia varieties to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Indeed, crocosmias have undergone a dramatic transformation. Once known as montbretia, there were only a few breeds and they struggled to stand out from the crowd. Now, these vibrant border perennials have gained significant interest in color, size and planting options. Grown from crocus-like corms, wiry stems emerge in summer, carrying long sprays of starry or trumpet-shaped flowers. Each is a little like a lily flower, but held in elegant sprays.

Modern breeding has transformed the fortunes of this enduring bloom. While the original orange and yellow montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) had a reputation for being a nuisance as it spread, modern crocosmias are better behaved – and capable of more enticing and manageable displays. Positioned at backs of borders to complement other exotics, given centre stage in fiery flower bed ideas, or allowed to grow as specimens in planters, there’s a crocosmia for every garden.  

These days, most types of crocosmia spread less and tend to grow more tightly in clumps. They have larger flowers, and develop more of them over a longer period. Some are also great for cutting. According to the American Horticultural Society (AHS), crocosmia are reliable, bold plants that bring a blaze of color to the border. 'As well as vibrant flowers in late summer, they are also useful in the garden because of their attractive upright foliage, producing sheaves of green,' says the AHS. 

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to add a touch of exotic elegance to your garden with these dazzling crocosmia varieties.

crocosmia Lucifer varieties growing in summer garden display

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in full bloom

(Image credit: Sally Anderson / Alamy )

Add exotic sophistication to your garden with these crocosmia varieties

While the color palette for different types of crocosmia tends to be on the fiery side, there is still a lot of choice and many breeds are stunning. From deepest scarlet through every shade of flame to soft gold, there are also some delightful bicolored varieties and some with bold mahogany markings. These are popular with hummingbirds. 

A few have attractive seed heads, while in others the foliage is a lovely shade of coppery bronze. 

Here we have rounded up 16 of the best crocosmia varieties for garden borders, planters and the cutting garden, from diminutive bloomers to more dramatic foliage-heavy choices. 

1. ‘Carmin Brilliant’ AGM

Carmin Brilliant crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Carmin Brilliant’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA 8 (UK H4)
  • Height: 26-30in (30-45cm)
  • Best for: planters

‘Carmin Brilliant’ AGM is one of the most reliable crocosmia for mid and late summer. With soft red flowers, featuring a yellow throat and developing scarlet tones on the backs, this crocosmia is ideal for large container gardening and mixed borders. 

This tolerant variety is happy in less than ideal conditions, but prefers plenty of sun, rich soil and moist soil all summer. Partner with sun-loving heuchera plants with harmonious foliage like ‘Citronelle’ or ‘Marmalade’.

2. ‘Emberglow’ AGM

Emberglow crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Emberglow’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA 7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 30-36in (75-90cm)
  • Best for: cutting gardens

This crocosmia has deep red tubular flowers on green stems through boldly pleated foliage. Ideal for the border, the cutting garden and collectors of dried flowers, ‘Emberglow’ AGM is one of the most striking crocosmia varieties. 

These deep red bloomers look especially pretty in front of the purple foliage of cotinus or physocarpus. After flowering, this crocosmia develops into attractive long-lasting seedheads. Do not deadhead, but instead wait until the seedheads have developed and then cut for drying.

3. ‘Castle Ward Late’ AGM

Castle Ward Late crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Castle Ward Late’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA 8 (UK H4)
  • Height: 3-4ft (90cm-1.2m)
  • Best for: tropical borders

This is one of the later crocosmia varieties, taller than almost all other crocosmias and possessing slightly pleated leaves. ‘Castle Ward Late’ AGM has relatively small trumpet-shaped, orange-red flowers, which open in generous numbers on arching stems. 

Ideal for borders, this crocosmia develops more slowly than other varieties, so plant a little closer together. It looks superb with the bold foliage and large flowers of tropical plants such as cannas, particularly the bronze-purple leaves of ‘Wyoming’. 

4. ‘Hellfire’ AGM

Hellfire crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Hellfire’ AGM crocosmia

(Image credit: Martin Hughes-Jones / Alamy)
  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H5)
  • Height: 30-36in (75-90cm)
  • Best for: gold and black borders

Amongst the most dramatic crocosmia, ‘Hellfire’ is ideal for borders and for cutting fresh. It carries large, outward-facing scarlet flowers that open on arching, purplish stems over a long season, with each bud carrying a sparky yellow flash.

This flower makes a splendid border feature, especially against a harmonious or contrasting background of foliage. Partner this crocosmia with the delicate dark leaves of Sambucus Black Lace (‘Eva’). Lovers of yellow flowers can match with Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’.

5. ‘Paul’s Best Yellow’ AGM

Paul's Best Yellow crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Paul’s Best Yellow’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 32-36in (80-90cm)
  • Best for: hot borders

As one of the most beautiful yellow crocosmia, ‘Paul’s Best Yellow’ AGM has large golden outward-facing flowers. Almost untainted by orange or red, these blooms are carried on long graceful arching sprays that show the flowers off very effectively.

Partner with yellow flowers in a different style, like Achillea ‘Moonshine’. Alternatively, lovers of purple flowers can try matching with Astilbe ‘Purple Lance’. These crocosmias make lovely ripples of color and also work well as specimens in hot borders. Plant in rich, moist soil to ensure good growth and prevent pest attack.

6. ‘Lucifer’ AGM

Lucifer crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Lucifer’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H5)
  • Height: 3-4ft (90cm-1.2m)
  • Best for: tall flowers

Perhaps the most popular of all crocosmias, ‘Lucifer’ AGM is tall and dramatic. Huge numbers of large, deep red flowers stand up from the branched arching stems amongst bold, pleated foliage. This variety is ideal for borders, cutting fresh and cutting dried.

It can be vigorous, so be prepared to lift, divide and replant every two or three years to create impact in the right spot. These flowers work well with low ground cover such as Geranium Rozanne (‘Gerwat’). Alternatively, salvia lovers can partner with the upright ‘Blue Spire’.

7. ‘Star of the East’ AGM

Star of the East crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Star of the East’ AGM crocosmia

(Image credit: John Richmond / Alamy)
  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 28-30in (70-85cm)
  • Best for: dahlias

One of the most spectacular varieties, ‘Star of the East’ AGM has huge 4in (10cm) golden orange flowers. These flowers are a sharp yellow in the throat, held in full view above the foliage, and they face outwards so they show themselves off well.

Particularly beautiful as part of bold groups in mixed borders, they are later-flowering than many varieties so are ideal with different types of dahlias and chrysanthemums. They are naturally strong and steady in growth, but are best not overcrowded so the flowers stay in full view.

8. ‘Severn Sunrise’ AGM

Severn Sunrise crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Severn Sunrise’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H5)
  • Height: 36-40in (90-1m)
  • Best for: kniphofias

Ideal in mixed borders and for cutting fresh, ‘Severn Sunrise’ AGM is one one of the most increasingly popular crocosmia varieties. Upward-facing, yellow-eyed orange flowers develop attractive salmon pink tints as they mature, and are held on nicely upright stems.

Moist conditions (without soggy soil) will encourage a long flowering season and help discourage pest problems. Lovers of red hot poker varieties will find that this crocosmia partners well with kniphofias that have apricot tints. Look for ‘Bees Sunset’, ‘Jenny Bloom’ or ‘Tawny King’.

9. Walberton Yellow (‘Walcroy’) AGM

Walberton Yellow crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

Walberton Yellow (‘Walcroy’) AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 24-28in (60-70cm) 
  • Best for: exotic planters

Neat, slow but steadily spreading plants, Walberton Yellow (‘Walcroy’) AGM has large numbers of relatively small sparkling yellow flowers with peachy overtones. This crocosmia is ideal for low maintenance flowerbed ideas as well as exotic planters.

Leave in place without regular division to make a prolific clump, only lifting, dividing and replanting if flowering tails off. Scatter seed of blue-flowered Nigella ‘Miss Jekyll’ around them in spring for a delightful late summer combination.

10. Bright Eyes (‘Walbreyes’) AGM

Bright Eyes crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

Bright Eyes (‘Walbreyes’) AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H5)
  • Height: 18-24in (45-60cm) 
  • Best for: bronze and purple foliage

Bright Eyes (‘Walbreyes’) AGM is a stunning choice, featuring a dozen vivid orange flowers, each with a bold scarlet eye, carried on upright stems in mid-late summer. It grows best in six hours of sun per day, and in rich well-drained soil that is neither waterlogged or parched.

This is one of the best choices for planters as well as mixed borders. For anyone who loves to grow dahlias, this crocosmia partners well with bronze-leaved dahlias with flowers in equally fiery shades. It also works well with all kinds of distinctive bronze and purple foliage.

11. ‘Constance’ AGM

Constance crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Constance’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA 7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 24-28in (60-70cm) 
  • Best for: cutting gardens

This striking plant is an exciting bicolored crocosmia. Its inner petals are orange with a yellow center, and its outer petals are orange on the outside and red within. It is one of the best perennial plants for pots and planters, borders and cutting gardens.

‘Constance’ AGM spreads steadily, so make sure you lift, divide and replant it every three or four years. This crocosmia partners well with  blue and purple summer and autumn salvias such as ‘Nachtvlinder’ or ‘Black & Blue’.

12. ‘Emily McKenzie’ AGM

Emily McKenzie crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Emily McKenzie’ AGM crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA 7 (UK H4)
  • Height: 28-30in (70-75cm)
  • Best for: exotic borders

‘Emily McKenzie’ AGM is a favorite bicolor crocosmia with large outward-facing flowers, showing off rich orange petals with crimson blotches in the throats. Great for borders and cutting fresh, these crocosmias are best bought in pots when starting to grow in spring.

This crocosmia variety works beautifully partnered with vivid blue flowers including different types of delphiniums and deep blue salvias like ‘Viola Klose’ (‘Violet Queen’). They also work well with dark-leaved cannas such as Canna Tropicanna Black (‘Lon01’).

13. ‘Jackanapes’ 

Jackanapes crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Jackanapes’  crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4) 
  • Height: 20-24in (50-60cm) 
  • Best for: fronts of borders

Brightly bicolored, ‘Jackanapes’ is one of the shortest crocosmia varieties. It has small, tubular flowers made up of yellow inner petals and orange outer petals, creating a very attractive due-toned effect – and all set against unusually fresh-looking green leaves.

It’s ideal for dramatic garden border planting ideas, planters and fronts of borders. Flowering prolifically, it has enormous impact so avoid blocking its view. Partner with dark-leaved heliopsis such as ‘Burning Hearts’ or yellow kniphofias like ‘Little Maid’ or ‘Wrexham Buttercup’.

14. ‘Dusky Maiden’

Dusky Maiden crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Dusky Maiden’ crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4) 
  • Height: 22-26in (55-65cm) 
  • Best for: bronze foliage

Perfect for planters and for borders, ‘Dusky Maiden’ is one of the most vibrant crocosmia you can grow. It is distinctive for its neat growth, slow but steady spread and bronze foliage, as well as its dark buds opening to rusty orange flowers.

The bronzed foliage is attractive from early in the season, so plant towards the front with low varieties to avoid hiding the leaves. For fans of dramatic garden color schemes, these are beautiful with low blue nepetas such as ‘Cat’s Pyjamas’ or ‘Purrsian Blue’.

15. ‘Saracen’

Saracen crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Saracen’ crocosmia

(Image credit: John Richmond / Alamy)
  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4) 
  • Height: 24-28in (60-70cm)
  • Best for: sun-loving perennials

With smoky bronze foliage, ‘Saracen’ combines large bright red flowers with yellow throats held on dusky stems. These dramatic crimson beauties are great for large planters and also as specimens in a compact border.

Neat and slow but steady growth allows ‘Saracen’ to fit well with a wide range of sun loving perennials and dwarf shrubs. If you are after ideas for plant partners, the green mounded foliage of heuchera such as ‘Green Spice’ or ‘Lime Marmalade’ look well with the smoky foliage.

16. ‘Solfatare’

Solfatare crocosmia varieties flowering in summer display

‘Solfatare’ crocosmia

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  • Hardiness: USDA Z7 (UK H4) 
  • Height: 20-24in (50-60cm)
  • Best for: low perennials

‘Solfatare’ is one of the most popular yellow crocosmia varieties, the first of the smoky-bronze leaf types, and probably still the easiest to find. Its dramatic leaf tone creates the perfect complement to the gold flowers. It works well with low perennials and is great in tubs and mixed borders. 

Tolerant of less than ideal conditions, but at its best in at least six hours of sun and in moisture retentive soil. It partners really well with dramatic campanula varieties, and you will find that the blue bells of ‘Superba’ or ‘Sarastro’ make good companions.