How to grow Freesias

Native to South Africa, the freesia was introduced into cultivation in 1878 by German botanist Dr. Friedrich Freese. It is one of the most beloved flowers for their pure colors, long vase life and sweet perfume. They are a universal symbol of friendship, but can also be given as a gift for the seventh wedding anniversary.

The trumpet-shaped flowers are ‘zygomorphic', meaning the blooms grow in a single plane, along one side of the plant’s stem. 

They may be grown in in borders, planters or terraces.


Planning, Planting, and Growing Freesias

The essentials

  • Flowering time: July to September or February-March (depending on when planted)
  • Height: 30-60 cm (depending on the variety)
  • Hardiness: They are winter hardy in USDA zones 9-10. In zones 3-8, the corms will not survive the winter outdoors. Protect against frost. 
  • Difficulty: Very easy to grow
  • Attracts: Butterflies
  • Time to bloom: 12 weeks
  • Plant location: full sun to some shade
  • Soil needs: sandy and light
  • Plant depth: 6 cm
  • Plant spacing: 5 cm
  • Humidity preferences: 40-50%
  • Good for: borders, lawns, container planting
  • Pet safe



    Tips for Growing Freesia 

    Knowing how a plant grows in its natural habitat can help you understand what it needs to thrive. Freesias are tender perennials and they are unlikely to survive temperatures under 37ºF (3 C). In its native habitat in the Southern Hemisphere, freesia bulbs sprout in fall, produce foliage in the winter months and then bloom from late winter to early spring. The corms are dormant during the summer months when the temperature becomes dry and hot. 


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


    Freesia plants bloom best when daytime temperatures are around 60-70 F (16-21 C). They need a steady nighttime temperature of around 45-55 F (7-13 C). They might not bloom if temperatures rise over 70°F (21 C).

    Moving your plants to an unheated garage or shed each night can help promote flowers. 


    Well-draining, slightly sandy soil, with a pH level neutral to alkaline is key for freesia plants. Amend the soil with organic material, such as peat moss and compost in equal quantities.

    Be sure your containers have adequate drainage. One of the biggest problems with growing Freesia is the corms rotting when the soil is too wet or waterlogged.


    After planting the corms, water once, and then water sparingly until they sprout. When freesia is actively growing and blooming, the soil should be kept moist. Watering once per week is recommended during hot weather. 

    NOTE: Freesias can’t survive with waterlogged roots


    When the young plants are about 6” tall, begin applying a balanced liquid flower fertilizer (such as liquid seaweed) every 2 weeks, keeping the plants in full sun. Feed them again only once the plants about 5 cm (2 in) tall and the first buds have appeared. Stop fertilizing when the foliage begins to die down in fall.


    Feesias need support to keep their stems upright. Circular supports that surround the stems are ideal. You can also use bamboo canes or small branches and tie the stems in with twine. Cut wilting flowers off as they die away.


    Pruning of your freesia plant isn’t a requirement, but it may enhance blooming.


    How to plant freesias

    In USDA Zones 3-8, freesia corms can be planted outdoors in spring for late summer flowers. The bulbs may also be planted in pots in the fall and grown in a cool (55-60°F) greenhouse for winter flowers. Plant freesias in March or April in a greenhouse, and April or May directly outside as long as the risk of frost has almost passed.

    Corms can also be planted in September to November. If planted in autumn, leave the pots outside while temperatures are still between 10-17°C (50-62ºF) and then move indoors, such as to a greenhouse or near a kitchen window. In USDA Zones 9-10, plant outdoors in fall for blooms in February-March. 

    Plant corms 1 to 2 inches (3/4 cm) deep with the pointed end up, and 2” to 3” apart. When planting freesia in containers, choose relatively tall pots as freesias have a long tap root. Water well after planting.  

    • Three plants require the pot 4 to 5 inches (10 – 13 cm) in diameter
    • Five plants require the pot 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter
    • Seven to nine plants require the pot 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter

    Place your plant pots in a place with  at the proper place with enough morning sun and partial shade in afternoons. Move the container in full sun when corms begin to sprout.

    In case of cold fronts, it's best to grow freesias in pots so you can bring them inside.


    Freesias are not fully hardy and won’t survive frosts. After blooming has finished, you can cut off the flowers but leave the foliage until it has completely dried, as it provides much needed energy for the bulb. Before the first frost, cut off any remaining foliage and dig up the corms. Let them dry in a protected place where they will not freeze. The bulb should then be lifted and allowed to dry out. Once the soil is completely dry, cut off the foliage and lift the corms. Store them in sand or peat moss, in a dry, dark, cool (55°F) place until the ground begins to warm again in late April. 

    If you live in an place with mild winters, you can leave the corms in the ground with a thick layer of mulch over winter.


    By planting clusters of thirty or more freesia bulbs, positioned no more than 2 inches apart, you’ll be creating magnificent and colorful scenes in your garden!

    Freesia plants in the garden should also be divided every three to five years. 


    Common Pests/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, or little dishes of beer for them.


    Why aren't my freesias blooming?

    The main reasons I find that freesia don't bloom: 

    • Not cold enough night temperatures

    • Waterlogged soil

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