Freesia Planting Guide

If you live in one of the U.S. regions that doesn't experience hot summers - San Francisco or Portland perhaps - grow freesia. The are happiest in cool temperatures, days in the 60 and 70s, and evening in the 50s. For the rest of us, freesia can be grown on a sunny windowsill in homes kept cool with air conditioning.

Planting Information

Choosing a Site

Freesias do best in full sun sites except where temperatures are hot. These plants thrive in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Soil that drains poorly and allows water to puddle will encourage bulb rot. If the soil where you’re considering planting doesn’t drain well, find a new location or consider planting in containers.

Soil Prep

Average, moderately fertile soil with medium amounts of moisture will be fine for freesia. Adding a slow release fertilizer when you plant can be helpful if your soil is a bit lean or if you’re planting in a container.

When to Plant Freesia Bulbs

Plant freesia bulbs outdoors in spring when frost danger has past and soil has warmed. These plants are native to South African warm (but not hot) regions and aren’t happy with cold soil or frosts.

Freesia bulbs can also be planted in the fall in regions that do not experience winter freezes, i.e. zones 9-10.

Freesia bulbs typically bloom 3 to 4 months after planting. It is best to buy in the fall for fall planting, and in the spring for spring planting. Bulbs do not hold well out of the ground from one season to another.

How to Plant Freesias

Plant bulbs with the points facing upwards. Dig holes and place the bulbs 3 - 4” apart and cover with 2” of soil. Pat the soil gently to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Do not water again until you see sprouts.

Freesia bulbs can also be planted in containers for indoor enjoyment. Choose a container with a drainage hole to avoid soggy soil. Plant bulbs 2” deep and 2” apart. Water well. Place the pot in a sunny window. Bulbs usually sprout in 2 to 3 weeks. Water lightly 10 days after planting and then not water again until you see sprouts.

During the Season

Freesia benefit from the application of a high potassium fertilizer about every two weeks after the flower buds have begun to develop..

At the Season’s End

For gardeners in zones 9-11, freesias are perennials that successfully overwintering outdoors. In colder zones, treat as annuals.

Insider Tips

  1. Freesia plants are slender and looks best planted in groups. These plants often benefit from some light support; twiggy sticks poked into the ground provide a nice natural approach.
  2. Freesias are a bit particular about temperature, not too hot and not too cold. The best results are achieved with daytime temperatures in the 60-75 range and 50-65 degrees for nighttime temperatures. In other words, not ideal for areas where the summers are hot and humid. But great for areas with a mild Mediterranean climate like much of California and parts of Arizona.
  3. When actively growing, freesia prefer slightly moist, but not wet, soil.
  4. Cut freesia stems for bouquets when the lower florets are beginning to open.
  5. Freesia flowers are sensitive to ethylene, the gas that many ripening fruits and vegetables emit. Do not place freesia plants or cut flowers near ripening avocados, bananas, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, etc.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun 

Soil: Average

Depth: Cover with 2" of soil

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Containers and mixed borders

Tip: Great cut flowers

GUIDE: Freesia Planting Guide

They Start Out looking Like This: