Crocus are hardy bulbs that are beloved by many gardeners, as they flower in the late winter and early spring; helping to bring a touch of life into the garden following the winter.
They have flowers of yellow, purple or white that have upturned petals and are instantly recognisable.
Some of the common varieties of crocus include Saffron and Spring crocus.
The petals of the saffron crocus are used in culinary circles to enrich things as diverse as rice and bread.
Crocus tommasinianus by Drew Avery.
Yellow Crocus photograph by ArminVogel.
Crocus sativus by Maurizio Zanetti.
Saffron picture by Delphine Ménard.
Common Names: Crocus, Saffron, Spring Crocus.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb.
Height: 4 to 16 inches (10 to 40 cm).
Native: Northern Southern Mediterranean Americas Europe Asia Australasia Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Species dependent: Autumn. Late winter and/or early spring.
Flower Details: White, purple, yellow. Multi-coloured. Solitary. Funnel-shaped. Cup-shaped. Upturned.
Foliage: Blades, Grass-like. Green. Vertical.
Sow Outside: Usually grown from bulbs as seed grown plants will not bear flowers for about three or four years.
Bulbs: 1 to 3 inches (3 to 7 cm). Plant in mid-summer for autumn flowering species. Plant in autumn for spring flowering species. Spacing 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
Seeds: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Start of spring. Use a cold frame. Germination time: one to six months at a temperature of 55 to 65°F (13 to 18°C). weeks. Do not disturb for at least two years.
Sow Inside: No.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6.0 to 8.0. Rich soil, light soil. Provide a spring feed. Propagate: by dividing in the autumn.
Miscellaneous: The stamens of Crocus sativus are used as a spice. Saffron is used both for its bitter flavor and to add colour to dishes.
It is best to grow crocus from bulbs outdoors. These should be planted at a depth of 5 to 7 cm into a rich soil (pH 6 to 8) in the autumn. If you plan to sow crocus seeds then you should plant them at a depth of 3 mm into a cold frame, and leave to grow for two years before moving to the final location. It usually takes crocus seeds about four years to flower when planting them from seeds. The crocus should be transplanted into their final location at about 5 cm apart into a sunny area of the garden which has good drainage.
Crocus plants should be fertilised in the spring and the leaves removed from the plant once they have fully shriveled and died.