Freesia is a genus of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Iridaceae, first described as a genus in 1866 by Christian Friedrich Ecklon (1886) and named after the German botanist and medical practitioner, Friedrich Freese (1795-1876). It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya south to South Africa, most species being found in Cape Provinces. Species of the former genus Anomatheca are now included in Freesia. The plants commonly known as "freesias", with fragrant funnel-shaped flowers, are cultivated hybrids of a number of Freesia species. Some other species are also grown as ornamental plants.
They are herbaceous plants which grow from a conical corm 1–2.5 cm (1⁄2–1 in) diameter, which sends up a tuft of narrow leaves 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long, and a sparsely branched stem 10–40 cm (4–16 in) tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of flowers with six tepals. Many species have fragrant narrowly funnel-shaped flowers, although those formerly placed in the genus Anomatheca, such as F. laxa, have flat flowers. Freesias are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the large yellow underwing.
The plants usually called "freesias" are derived from crosses made in the 19th century between F. refracta and F. leichtlinii. Numerous cultivars have been bred from these species and the pink- and yellow-flowered forms of F. corymbosa. Modern tetraploid cultivars have flowers ranging from white to yellow, pink, red and blue-mauve. They are mostly cultivated professionally in the Netherlands by about 80 growers. Freesias can be readily increased from seed. Due to their specific and pleasing scent, they are often used in hand creams, shampoos, candles, etc.[citation needed]; however, the flowers themselves are mainly used in wedding bouquets.
They can be planted in the fall in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-10 (i.e. where the temperature does not fall below about −7 °C (20 °F)), and in the spring in Zones 4–8.
Freesia laxa (formerly called Lapeirousia laxa or Anomatheca cruenta) is one of the other species of the genus which is commonly cultivated. Smaller than the scented freesia cultivars, it has flat rather than cup-shaped flowers.
Extensive 'forcing' of this bulb occurs in Half Moon Bay in California where several growers chill the bulbs in proprietary methods to satisfy cold dormancy which results in formation of buds within a predicted number of weeks – often 5 weeks at 55 °F (13 °C).
Freesia laxa, commonly known as flowering grass, is a small species of cormous flowering plant in the family Iridaceae, from eastern and southern Africa, from Kenya to northeastern South Africa. It is grown in gardens as an ornamental plant.
Freesia laxa grows from corms, reaching about 15–30 cm (6–12 in) tall. The green leaves are arranged in a flat "fan" from which the flower stalk emerges. The flowers are flattened, about 2 cm (0.8 in) across. Their colour varies considerably. The ground colour is red, white or pale blue. The bases of the lowest three tepals usually have a darker marking, which may be red or purple, although it is absent in the pure white form. The seeds are bright red.
It is native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya to South Africa, where it grows in somewhat moist conditions. It dies down to a corm in the winter, growing again at the end of spring and flowering in summer. In the wild, in the Southern Hemisphere, it flowers between October and December.This small bulbous species has been known by a variety of names. The name Gladiolus laxus was originally published by Carl Thunberg in 1823. Peter Goldblatt transferred the species to Anomatheca laxa in 1971; Nicholas Brown changed it to Lapeirousia laxa in 1928; Goldblatt with his colleague John Charles Manning settled on Freesia laxa in 1995. Separately, in 1830, John Lindley described Anomatheca cruenta which John Baker transferred to Lapeirousia cruenta in 1892. Lindley's plant is now regarded as part of Freesia laxa.Forms with blue flowers are treated as Freesia laxa subsp. azurea, other forms being placed in Freesia laxa subsp. laxa.
Freesia laxa is sufficiently hardy to be grown outdoors in all but the coldest parts of the British Isles. It requires a light soil and a sunny position. In colder areas, the corms can be lifted and dried off during the winter. It can be propagated by dividing groups of corms or by seed. It can be somewhat invasive through self-sowing when grown in favourable conditions.This plant and the white-flowered cultivar F. laxa var. albax have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.


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