Freesia Planting Guide

If you live in one of the U.S. regions that enjoys sunshine but not hot summers, like long stretches of coastal California, grow freesia. These plants are happiest in cool temperatures, with day ranges of 55 to 70 degrees farenheit and night time temperatures of 40 to 55. For regions where springs are very short and summers are hot, consider growing freesia indoors. 

For the rest of us, freesia can be grown on a very sunny windowsill in a room with limited heat or one kept cool (50-60F) with air conditioning. Sadly, freesia plants do not grow well in hot, humid regions or in areas that tend to be cloudy and rainy.

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 are fine for freesia. Mixing in a handful of sand can improve drainage. Add a slow release fertilizer when you plant if your soil is a bit lean or if you’re planting in a container. Avoid fertilizers and tap water with floride as that will cause foliage to yellow. Do not use "Super Phosphate" fertilizer for freesia.

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. zone 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. Be sure to keep soil lightly moist during the plants' active growth period. Allowing the soil to dry completely stresses freesia and may result in crooked stems.

At the Season’s End

For gardeners in zones 9-10, 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 coastal California.
  3. When actively growing, freesia prefer slightly moist, but not wet, soil. Plenty of sunshine is needed for good flower production.
  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: