How to Grow and Care for Freesia

Sweet, fruity smelling flowers are popular for weddings

Freesia bulbs with light purple-pink, white and yellow flowers in sunlight closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Freesia (Freesia spp.) produce exotic-looking floral trumpets commonly used as wedding flowers in bouquets or floral arrangements. This African native can be grown indoors at home (under the right conditions) in pots or outdoors in the correct USDA zones producing flowers in a rainbow of colors.

Freesia corms enter their active growth phase during the fall, which is the best time to plant them if in hardiness zone 9 or 10. But if growing these corms in a cold winter zone, plant them in the early spring after the last frost. Seasonal corms grow quickly in spring. Healthy plants should produce five to seven tubular flowers per stem, all pointing in one direction like fingers. Freesia foliage is narrow and grass-like.

Choose a sunny garden bed with soil that is rich but not heavy. A sandy garden loam amended with humus or compost is ideal. The corms are small and don’t require deep planting; place them only about 2 inches deep with the pointed end facing up. The plants look best when grouped in bunches of five to seven. Space corms about 3 inches apart, then water the planting area well. Freesias should start blooming about 12 weeks after planting the corms.

What Do Freesias Symbolize?

Botanist Christian Ecklon named Freesia for his friend, Dr. Friedrich Freese, which is why this flower symbolizes friendship and thoughtfulness. White freesias are popular for weddings and stand for innocence, purity, and love.

Common Name Freesia
Botanical Name Freesia spp.
Family Iridaceae
Plant Type Perennial, corm
Mature Size 1-2 ft. tall, 6-12 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist, well-draining
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Pink, red, white, yellow, orange, blue, purple
Hardiness Zones 9-10 (USDA)
Native Area Africa

What Do Freesia Plants Look Like?

Each freesia stem can grow about a foot high, producing six to twelve trumpet-shaped, upward-facing blossoms. They grow along one side of the stem in a single line (sessile). Their flowers grow from a central stalk that has sword-shaped leaves.


There are over 1,400 cultivars of freesias; they come in many colors, including pink, red, white, yellow, orange, blue, and purple.

According to florists, specific colors have special meanings. White is most often used for weddings, symbolizing purity and innocence. Pink stands for motherly love. Yellow signifies joy and friendship. Red is a symbol of passionate love. Multicolored freesias are most often a sign of friendship.

Plant and Bloom Length and Height

Freesia plants can grow from one to two feet tall. Most flower stems are about 12 to 15 inches tall. Each freesia blossom is about 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in size.


A distinct benefit or attribute is their wonderful fruity-smelling perfume, similar to strawberries, often used in fragrances. Some consider the red and pink flowers to have the headiest scent.

Planting a Freesia Corm

These plants are native to warm South Africa. Freesias can be planted indoors or outdoors; however, the corms will die if exposed to frost. The times for planting differ based on your USDA hardiness zone. Freesias look their best planted in groups instead of rows.

When to Plant

If planting freesia corms outdoors in USDA zone 9 or 10, plant them in the fall when they enter their active growth phase. If growing outdoors in any other zone, plant them in the spring after the last frost.

If the corms are planted indoors in the fall, keep them in a cool greenhouse-like environment (50 to 60 F) to bloom in late winter. If growing freesias in indoor pots for early summer flowering, plant them from January to March.

How Deep Do You Plant Freesia

When planting in beds, prepare the soil about a foot deep. Make sure the bed drains well since standing water will rot the corms. Plant the corms two to four inches apart and two inches deep, with the pointed end up, then water the bed well.

If planting in pots, choose deeper pots if possible since freesias have a long taproot. You can plant them closer together in a pot. Six corms will fit comfortably in a five-inch pot. Give a little space in between them, about an inch. If using a larger pot, spread the bulbs about 2 inches apart. Plant your corms about 1 inch deep with the pointed end up.

Freesia Care

Freesia stems are thin and can’t always support the weight of the flower heads, especially in varieties that produce double blooms. A grow-through staking system with a grid supporting the flowers and leaves will keep the plants upright.

If you live in a climate that mimics the native growing conditions of the plant, freesias are a must for a cutting garden. Cut the flowers when the first bloom on the stem is open and the rest begin to show color. Expect your freshly cut flowers to last about 12 days in a vase, compared with five to seven days for purchased flowers.

Freesia bulbs with yellow tubular flowers clustered and surrounded by grass

The Spruce / K. Dave

Freesia bulbs with yellow and orange tubular flowers hanging under long leaf blades

The Spruce / K. Dave

Freesia bulbs with light purple-pink and white flowers on thin stems in stunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave


Freesias grow best in full sun. However, they can tolerate a planting location with some morning shade. If you're growing them indoors, a sunny window that faces south is ideal.


Well-draining soil is vital for freesia plants. You can amend the soil with organic material, such as peat moss or compost, to improve drainage. Most regular potting mixes will do if you're planting in a container.


Keep the soil moist but not soggy as new sprouts are growing. Then, water your plants around once a week when they're flowering. Reduce watering to allow the soil to dry out if the foliage turns yellow and begins to wilt.

Temperature and Humidity

Freesias are not cold-hardy flowers; outside their hardiness zone, they can be planted in early spring as annuals. However, the plants need nighttime temperatures around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit to form buds. Furthermore, freesias prefer about 40 to 50% humidity, which might be challenging to provide in dry climates. If you don't have access to a cool greenhouse, moving freesias in containers into an unheated garage or shed each night might be necessary to promote flowers.


Once the first sprouts emerge from the soil, apply a balanced flower fertilizer, and keep the plants in full sun. Fertilize them again when buds appear. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.

Types of Freesia

Try these popular cultivars:

  • 'Belleville': Double blooms of pure white flowers
  • 'Golden Passion': Yellow flowers with a high bud count per stem (as many as 10 flowers)
  • 'Oberon': Brilliant red-and-yellow bicolor flowers
  • 'Royal Blue': Bright lavender flowers with white throats and delicate purple veining


Freesia will appear to decline after their active blooming period. However, the plants are probably entering dormancy, not dying, so don’t discard them. Once the foliage yellows, you may trim it off.

Propagating Freesia

It is best to plant Freesia corms in the fall if growing them in their native zone, USDA 9 or 10. But, if planting this frost-sensitive plant in cooler zones, plant it in the spring after the last frost.

Dig up the dormant corms after the foliage fades to protect freesia corms from freezing temperatures. You'll notice small corms forming as offsets from the parent corm. Here's how to propagate freesia from corms:

  1. Gently remove baby corms from the parent.
  2. Plant them separately as you would mature corms, about 2 to 3 inches apart and 1 to 2 inches deep.
  3. Water well.
  4. Shoots should appear within four weeks. But flowering might not start until one to two seasons after planting new corm offsets.

Potting and Repotting Freesia

Freesias also thrive in pots, indoors and out. Freesia plants do best as individual container specimens because of their specific growing requirements. Select a container with ample drainage holes, and fill it with a well-draining potting mix. Plant your corms around 1 to 2 inches deep, at least an inch apart, with the pointed end up. Water the soil well, and set the container where it will receive full sun outside. Indoors, place the pot where it will get bright, indirect light. Keep the soil moist (but not soaking wet), and expect flowers in about 12 weeks. Indoor potted freesia will typically bloom in winter.


Once active growing is over, allow the foliage to yellow and wilt. To preserve freesia plants in the ground in frosty zones, dig up the corms before the frost. Dry them and keep them in a warm space (77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep them separated, such as wrapped in newspaper. Replant them in the spring after the threat of frost is gone.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Freesia is pretty hardy, but occasionally it will attract aphids, slugs, and snails. For aphids, you can use insecticidal soap daily and wipe away dead bugs with a clean cloth. Slugs and snails should be removed by hand; then, you can leave slug or snail bait. A simple bait is a little dish with beer, which attracts them. They'll drown in the liquid.

How to Get Freesia to Bloom

These flowers resemble delicate trumpets with a sweet-smelling fruity scent, growing in various colors. If your freesia makes thick foliage, but no flowers form, you might have too many corms below ground competing for resources. Dig up the corms and separate them. Also, do not plant them too deep. Corms planted too deep may not form flowers.

If your foliage is outdoing your flower production, you might be using the wrong fertilizer. Nitrogen-heavy fertilizers focus plant production on leaves instead of flowers. To encourage blooms, give your freesia a phosphorus-rich feed in spring and continue to provide your freesia plants fertilizer every two months during the growing season.

Freesia usually does not flower from new corm offsets in the first season (can take two to three seasons) but are reliable bloomers from mature corms appropriately stored over winter or wintered in-ground in zones 9 or 10.

This plant requires cool nighttime temperatures (40 to 55 F) and daytime temperatures between 50 to 70 F. Freesia will not bloom in zones with year-round heat; it must have cool nighttime temperatures to form flowers.

Common Problems With Freesia

Freesias are hardy and easy to grow; however, they can sometimes have a few issues.

Yellowing Leaves

If leaves and flowers get twisty or turn yellow prematurely, check the plant for sap-sucking aphids, which can remove energy from the plant. Use a steady stream of water, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil to eliminate the soft-bodied insects. It can also be a sign of fusarium wilt. Fusarium is an incurable fungus, and all infected plants must be destroyed.

Dark Spots

Your plant may have bacterial soft rot if you notice black, gray, or brown spots on the leaves, flowers, and stem. It begins as small spots that grow and dry out or worsen by turning a large part of the plant brown. If most of the plant is infected, pull and dispose of it to prevent its spread. Reduce watering if your plant has a minor infection; if all other conditions are ideal, it may be able to recover on its own.

Yellow or Green Lesions

Small yellowish-greenish watery lesions can indicate iris leaf spot, which can worsen to prominent locations on the flowers. This fungal condition usually means waterlogged soil. This plant needs well-draining soil. To control its spread, remove all plant material with spots to stop the fungus spores from infecting other plants.

  • Do freesias come back year after year?

    Freesia can return annually if grown in a warmer zone. If grown in an area with cold winters, dig up its corms, dry them, and store them in a warm spot to replant the following year.

  • Do freesia prefer sun or shade?

    Freesias may be grown in full sun or some shade. However, they grow best in cool spring temperatures. They may stop blooming in temperatures warmer than 70 F.

  • Do freesia corms multiply?

    Freesia corms multiply by forming offsets or baby corms branching off the parent corm. Gently pull off the offset and plant it separately to produce another plant.

Article Sources
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  1. Freesia. Hudson Institute of Mineralogy.