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Devilishly handsome! Lucifer Montbretia is a stunning Spirit that will stop traffic with its outrageously brilliant red flowers. This flamboyant beauty will bring vibrant color to your landscape for several weeks during the height of summer—at the time when you want to relax in your garden the most. The blossoms will not only please you, but will lure in hummingbirds, too, acting as bright red traffic lights to our feathered friends that say, “Stop here!” You’ll enjoy sitting on your deck or patio and watching the hummers return again and again for sips of sweet nectar from Lucifer’s gorgeous blooms.
- Hardiness Zone: 5-9
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Montbretias come to us from South Africa. There aren’t a lot of plants from South Africa’s diverse flora that are often grown in the U.S. The annual Geraniums that you grow outside your door are one exception. Montbretias are another. Lucifer is a hybrid of two species that was bred by the famous English nurseryman, Alan Bloom. It was chosen for its upward-facing flowers, among other things. Montbretia gets its name from a young French botanist, Antoine Francois Coquebert de Montbret. The poor guy didn’t have much of a career though—he died at the tender age of 20.
Butterflies are also fans of Lucifer Montbretia’s intense red flowers. Butterflies pollinate Montbretias in their native South Africa, and it’s a good thing, because South Africa has no hummingbirds (what a bummer!). Sunbirds there have long, thin bills and can pollinate tubular flowers as well.
How to Grow
Grow Lucifer Montbretia in a sunny location, giving it a bit of afternoon shade if you live in a very hot climate. Soil should be reasonably fertile, moist, and well drained. One of Lucifer’s enemies is very cold winters. Mulch well in borderline regions. In cold areas, you can lift the corms (bulbs) and store them in a cool, dry place over the winter and replant in spring. The other enemy is spider mites, which leave stippling marks on the leaves and tiny webs if the infestation is severe. The best and safest course of action to control spider mites is to simply spray them off regularly with a jet of water from the hose and to keep the plants properly irrigated so they are not stressed.
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