Best of the bunch
Also known as montbretia, these frost-hardy corms grown for their brightly coloured flowers, which last late into summer, also provide architectural value with their sword-shaped, upright leaves.
Among the most dazzling is C. ‘Lucifer’, which grows to around 1-1.2m (3-4ft) tall and bears sizzling tomato-red blooms, ideal for mixed and herbaceous borders, alongside heleniums and rudbeckias. The flowers are excellent for cutting and will tolerate sun or dappled shade, preferring moist but well-drained fertile soil. Other good types include C. ‘Bressingham Blaze’, a shorter variety with fiery orange-red flowers with a yellow throat, which looks great in a hot colour theme. Give the plants a good mulch in winter and divide or separate overgrown clumps in spring. Be warned, though, some of them do spread like wild fire so you’ll need to be vigilant to keep them in check.