Crocus

Crocus is a genus of seasonal flowering plants in the family Iridaceae comprising about 100 species of perennials growing from corms. They are low growing plants, whose flower stems remain underground, that bear relatively large white, yellow, orange or purple flowers and then become dormant after flowering. Crocuses are native to woodland, scrub, and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra from the Mediterranean, through North Africa, central and southern Europe, the islands of the Aegean, the Middle East and across Central Asia to Xinjiang in western China.



Crocuses are most often planted for early spring color, though there are also varieties that bloom in late fall and early winter. In many regions, crocus flowers (Crocus spp.) mark the arrival of spring. The flowers close at night and in overcast weather conditions. The crocus has been known throughout recorded history, mainly as the source of saffron. Saffron is obtained from the dried stigma of Crocus sativus, an autumn-blooming species. It is valued as a spice and dyestuff, and is one of the most expensive spices in the world.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

3 - 6 inches


Width-Circumference (Avg)

1 - 3 inches


Approximate pH

6.0 - 7.0


Varieties of Crocus


Spring blooming crocus species include:


Dutch Crocus (C. vernus)


This species is the toughest crocus of all and is available nearly everywhere. It is available in a rainbow of colors, often marked with contrasting streaks or blotches.


Scottish Crocus (C. bifloris)


Scottish Crocus is a showy white flower with purple striped petals and yellow throats. Read the label carefully as some forms of Scottish Crocus bloom in autumn.


Early Crocus (C. tommasinianus)



For color soon after the first of each year, consider this crocus species. Often known as “Tommy,” this small variety displays star-shaped blooms of silvery bluish lavender.


Golden Crocus (C. chrysanthus)



Golden Crocus is a delightful variety with sweet-scented, orange-yellow blooms. Hybrids are available in many colors, including pure white, pale blue, pale yellow, white with purple edges, or blue with yellow centers.


Fall Blooming Crocus species include:


Saffron crocus (C. sativus)



Saffron crocus is a fall bloomer that produces lilac blooms with bright orange-red, saffron-rich stigma. As an added bonus, you can remove the stigma as soon as the blooms open, then dry them for a few days and use the saffron for seasoning paella and other dishes.


Cloth of Gold (C. angustifolius)



Cloth of Gold is a popular early-winter bloomer that produces star-shaped, orange-gold flowers with a deep brown stripe running down the center of each petal.


C. pulchellus


C. pulchellus produces pale lilac blooms, each with a yellow throat and contrasting veins of deep purple.


Bieberstein’s crocus (C. speciosus)


With its flashy, bluish violet blooms, is probably the flashiest autumn-blooming crocus. This species, which increases quickly, is also available in mauve and lavender.


some of the most popular varieties of crocuses:


Advance Crocus



These flowers have yellow and lavender petals and both orange and yellow centers. They are one of the earliest bloomers among the crocus varieties.


Tricolor Crocus



These flowers are absolutely striking with purple, white, and bright-gold petals and yellow-orange centers. They prefer full to partial sunlight and they are one of the earliest crocuses to bloom. Their four-inch-tall petals are eye-catching and graceful.


Yakarianus Crocus


A little unique compared to other crocuses, its sparse petals are white and its centers are wide and bright yellow. They are similar to the varieties C. biflorus and the Tauri and the leaves are quite prominent as well.


Whitewell Purple Crocus



Mixed colors that include shades of purple, violet, and white surround a golden-yellow center and spiky green foliage. They are striking flowers that are perfect for lovers of the color purple.


Bowles White Crocus


This variety of Crocus sieberi bears snowy, chalice-shape flowers with deep yellow throats appear in early spring. It grows 2-3 inches tall.


Zenith Crocus



The term “zenith” often means a particular point in the sky above the person doing the observing. The word might also refer to the ethereal blue color of this crocus or even the fact that it does best in alpine climates but one thing is certain; its pale blue color and striking yellow center make it very noticeable indeed. The Zenith is a fairly recent crocus but is a great addition to any spring garden.


Zwanenburg Bronze Crocus



With beautiful reddish-yellow petals and a gold-yellow center, this unique type of crocus blooms early and is a bit more fragrant than other types of crocus. Because of this characteristic, they are the perfect plant to place in containers or in raised beds because this brings the scent closer to you.


Pickwick Crocus



From the 1920s era, these crocuses look just the same as seersucker cloth and have white strips that highlight colors such as deep purple. They are some of the first and largest crocuses to bloom, usually appearing in early April, and they have bright yellow centers.


Barr’s Purple Crocus



An early bloomer, this type of crocus has petals that are violet-amethyst and an interior that is a little paler, exposing you to various beautiful shades of the color purple. Their centers are golden orange in color and with these flowers, it is best to defer mowing the lawn until the foliage has died back.


Bavella Crocus


This type of crocus comes true from seed and is quite striking, thanks to its deep-purple petals and golden centers. It is a late-blooming plant that can sometimes have tinges of white in it.


Grand Maitre Crocus



This extra-large crocus blooms a bit later than some other types of crocus and its vibrant purple petals with white highlights make it one of the most noticeable. If you stagger your planting times with these crocuses, it can extend your blooming times. When the sun comes out, the petals get wider, showing off their bright-orange centers. After roughly six weeks of blooming, you can leave the foliage until it withers, which makes the flowers multiply and come alive.


Graveolens Crocus


With sparse gold and yellow petals, these crocuses are very attractive but often have an unpleasant smell so they are not loved by everyone. The petals open up when it’s sunny and if you plant them on the back of your property, their smell should be a lot more tolerable.


Blue Pearl Crocus



This type of crocus has pale lavender-blue and white petals tinged with yellow and yellow-orange centers. Containing graceful four-inch petals, this type of crocus is deer-resistant and open and closes depending on the sun.


Ruby Giant Crocus



With petals of deep purple and a paler base and margins, these flowers have orange-gold centers and are early bloomers. The Ruby Giant has grass-like foliage and is resistant to deer. It is also perfect for borders and rock gardens.


Miss Vain Crocus



These are early bloomers and have a light scent. They have large white petals and orange centers. You should plant roughly nine blooms per square foot if you want to get a dense, full look. Their foliage is grass-colored with silvery stripes and the petals open and close depending on how sunny it is.


Olivieri Crocus


The Olivieri is bright orange-yellow in color and can include dark orange markings on the outside and lighter orange tinges on the inside. The center is yellow-orange in color so the plant exemplifies consistency and a very attractive look.


Cream Beauty Crocus



As the name suggests, these crocuses have large, beautiful petals in creamy-white and light-yellow color and beautiful orange centers that highlight their beauty. This type of crocus is the winner of several international flower awards and it is a very reliable performer in your garden.


Planting Crocus


Choose a planting site where there is well-draining soil. The corms will rot in soggy, compacted ground. Crocuses do best in a spot that gets full sun (6+ hours of direct sunlight), but will grow in partial sun as well. Before planting, work in organic matter such as compost to a depth of at least 10 inches.


When to Plant Crocuses

  • Crocuses need to experience a period of cold weather in order to bloom, so plant them in the fall for spring blooms.

  • Before the ground freezes in the fall, crocus corms can be planted most anywhere, except in the dense shade on the north side of buildings or under thickets.

  • Ideally, plant crocus corms 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected in the fall and when the soil temperature is below 60°F (16°C). This is usually during September or October in the northern U.S. and Canada, and October or November in the southern United States.


How to Plant Crocuses

  • Plant crocus corms 3 to 4 inches deep (with the pointy end up). After planting, water well.

  • Plant bulbs in groups or clusters rather than spacing them in a single line along a walkway or border. Single flowers get lost in the landscape. Plant a few inches apart, and plant in groups of 10 or more.

  • Consider planting crocuses in lawns and meadows where they can form carpets, or mass them in the front of flower beds along the edge.

  • Plant taller spring-flowering bulbs and shrubs behind the early bulbs for color contrast.


Crocus Care


Soil


Crocus plants prefer a neutral soil pH of 6 .0 to 7.0, and they're usually not fussy about the soil type. However, a well-draining soil is crucial. As with most plants with bulb roots, crocuses do not like to sit in soggy soil, which can cause them to rot.


Water


Crocuses are generally low-maintenance plants. They like to be watered regularly in the spring and fall. If there is no snow cover, the bulbs will also need water throughout the winter. However, they go dormant in the summer and prefer drier soil during this time.


Temperature and Humidity


Crocus bulb hardiness varies slightly depending on which type you are growing. They bloom and survive best where winters are cold since crocus bulbs need a 12- to 15-week period of cold temperatures at around 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit to set their blooms. Humidity usually isn't an issue, though excessive humidity can lead to rot.


In climates where the winter temperatures are not sufficiently low to chill the corms, crocuses are often planted as annuals. They can be purchased from vendors who pre-chill the corms at 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 14 weeks. It is also possible to chill the corms yourself for the following spring's planting by digging up the bulbs after the foliage has yellowed. Begin chilling the corms in the refrigerator about 14 weeks before the planned planting time. However, make sure not to store fruit in the same refrigerator, as ethylene gas emitted by the fruit will ruin the crocuses.


Fertilizer


Crocuses do not require a lot of fertilizer. They store their own energy in their bulbs, which is why it is essential that you do not cut back the leaves until they turn yellow. A light top dressing of bulb food or bone meal in the fall is a good idea if you have poor soil.


Propagating Crocuses


It is not necessary to divide bulbs from your crocus plants. In many areas, crocuses are somewhat short-lived, and you might need to replant every few years. However, if your plants do very well and start to multiply, your crocus can come back every year if the bulbs are stored properly. The plants will eventually begin to bloom less as the clumps become dense. If that happens, you can dig up and divide the bulbs when the foliage starts to die back. Replant the bulbs at least 3 inches apart or in another location entirely.


Pests and Diseases


Crocuses are susceptible to viruses, which can cause distortions, streaking, and buds that fail to open. There is no cure for viral diseases; if they strike, dispose of the plants to prevent spreading the virus.


The biggest problem for spring crocus flowers and bulbs is being eaten by chipmunks, deer, rabbits, and squirrels. Other animals, such as skunks, may dig the bulbs out of the ground while searching for insects. There are liquid deterrents that can be sprayed on the leaves and granular deterrents you can scatter to prevent nibbling. You can also buy wire cages or cover the bulbs with chicken wire (under the soil) to protect the bulbs in the ground when you plant them. If you find your plants are constantly being harmed, avoid using bone meal, as it can attract animals. Instead, try interplanting your crocuses with daffodils, which many pests won't touch.


Uses

  • The corms of crocuses have been used as foodstuffs in Syria.

  • The carotenoids found in the styles of Crocus species, particularly C. sativus have been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, and have led to interest in potential pharmaceutical applications.

  • Saffron is also used in the fragrance industry; in essential and bath oils, perfumes, air freshener’s soaps, incense sticks etc.

  • Saffron is also used as a dye in the weaving industry for garments as well as a histological stain.

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