How to Grow Crocus Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Crocus, Saffron, & Spring Crocus

Crocus plants are grown from hardy bulbs, and are beloved by many gardeners.

They flower in the late winter and early spring. This is great for helping to bring a touch of life into the garden, following the winter.

Crocus tommasinianus
Crocus tommasinianus by Drew Avery.

They have flowers of yellow, purple or white that have upturned petals, and are instantly recognisable.

Yellow Crocus photograph by ArminVogel.

Some of the common varieties of crocus include Saffron and Spring crocus.

Crocus sativus
Crocus sativus by Maurizio Zanetti.

The petals of the saffron crocus are beloved in culinary circles. Where they are used to enrich foods as diverse as rice and bread.

Saffron picture by Delphine Ménard.

Commonly Grown Crocus Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Crocus sativus

Crocus sativus
Crocus sativus (Saffron Crocus / Autumn crocus), photograph by Finca la Casilla; CC.

Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus tommasinianus
Crocus tommasinianus (Woodland Crocus / Early Crocus / Tommasini's Crocus / Tommies), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Crocus vernus

Crocus vernus
Crocus vernus (Spring Crocus / Giant Crocus), picture by myafcatowl; CC.

Crocus Growing and Care Guide

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.

How to Grow Crocus

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 (1/8th inch) into a cold frame, and leave to grow for two years before moving to the final location.

It usually takes crocus plants about four years to flower when growing them from seeds.

The crocus should be transplanted into their final location at about 5 cm apart. Do this in a sunny area of the garden, which has good drainage.

Caring for Crocus in the Garden

Crocus plants should be fertilised in the spring. Leaves should be removed from the plant once they have fully shriveled and decayed.

Common Questions

How many members does the Crocus genus have?

The Crocus genus includes approximately 90 species, recognized for their early spring or autumn flowering habit.

Do members of Crocus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Crocus bulbs are often planted for their bright, cup-shaped flowers that provide early spring or fall color in gardens and lawns.

Which Crocus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Crocus vernus (Spring Crocus) and Crocus sativus (Saffron Crocus) are popular choices for their vibrant, early-season blooms.

Are members of the Crocus plant genus fragrant?

Yes, many Crocus species, including Crocus sativus, produce fragrant flowers that can perfume an entire garden.

What is the perfect location to grow Crocus?

Crocus prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are great for borders, rock gardens, or naturalizing in lawns.

Is Crocus invasive in the USA?

Currently, Crocus species are not considered invasive in the USA. They tend to naturalize rather than aggressively spread.

How do I remove Crocus plants from my garden?

Removing Crocus involves digging up the corms. Try to do this after foliage has died down to ensure energy is stored in the corm for the next season.


The Crocus genus, part of the Iridaceae family, is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. These perennial bulbous plants are renowned for their cup-shaped, solitary flowers that bloom in early spring or autumn, often peeping through the snow in cooler climates, signaling the change of seasons.

To cultivate Crocus, plant them in a sunny to partially shaded location with well-drained soil. They can be grown from bulbs planted in the late summer or early autumn. Regular watering is necessary, but they are quite drought-tolerant once established. They are often used in rock gardens, borders, or lawns for early spring color.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Crocus plants. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow Lythrum, Veltheimia plant, Gaura plant, and Begonia plants.