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A sign of spring and a taste of luxury: how to grow crocuses |

While its brightly colored beauty is enough to make even the bitterest cat happy , it is known that a saffron that rears its head in bright shades to through the snow unleashes frenzied joy in those who are perpetually afflicted by winter.

Many gardeners see the appearance of crocuses as the first sign that spring is only a nanosecond away. And what is more joyous to a gardener than spring after a long, cold season of leafless shrubs and bare trees?

Saffron flowers with saffron |


Let's learn more about this beautiful genus of plants that provide a nice pop of spring color.


Crocus is a genus of 90 closely related species of perennial bulbous herbaceous plants belonging to the iris family that grow from bulbs. Although they are known to bloom in the spring, some select species bloom in the fall or winter. They are native to North Africa and the Middle East, the eastern Mediterranean (in particular, the islands of the Aegean region) and extend to central Asia and western China.

Its native habitat is quite diverse and includes meadows, bushes, and forests. Most species are quite small, growing four to six inches tall.

Saffron, a spice that appears to a large extent in Spanish cuisine, is made from the stigmata of the species C. sativus which blooms in autumn. This expensive and highly sought-after cooking ingredient is traditionally used in risottos, pilafs, and paellas.

How to have bulbous flowers all year round

White and purple crocus flower |


Crocus sativus was first cultivated for saffron in the eastern Mediterranean and first appears in the historical record with the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

The ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire in Constantinople first introduced the plant to Western Europe when he brought bulbs to the Netherlands, where they became popular for ornamental gardens. By the early 17th century, new fancy varieties had been developed that are strikingly similar to the types that are still grown.


Saffron flowers can be propagated by two different methods, both of which require digging up the root structure.

Horse chestnut - flowers.

The roots should be dug up and divided after the first fall frost, after the bulb-shaped bulbs have gone dormant.

The main method of propagation is digging down to the roots and separating the bulbs into bulb displacements. These offsets are new shoots that develop around the base of the mother corm. Once you have excavated the root structure, you can separate the offsets and use them to expand existing beds or create new ones.

To minimize crowding, plants should be dug and cleared at least every five years.

Saffron plants produce small bulbs of seeds, called bulbs, that develop along the root structure.

Dandelion flowers


Plant the bulbs in rich soil in well drained compost full sun or partial shade.

Dig holes three to four inches deep and place the bulbs point up. Water well immediately after planting.

In USDA hardiness zones 3-8, plant freshly purchased crocuses in spring bloom six to eight weeks before the first hard frost is expected and when the soil temperature is below 60 ° F. Generally, this would mean from September to October in the north and from October to November in the south. If you've dug your own, you can plant after the frost.

Gardeners in warmer areas will want to “cool” the bulbs to 35 ° F to 45 ° F for 12 to 14 weeks, so put them in the holes of the refrigerator in October and plant as soon as they come out of the cold.

CBD Flowers, A Growing Trend

Crocuses that bloom in the fall are winter hardy in zones 6-10. Gardeners in cooler climates can dig up the bulbs after the flowers have been exhausted and replant the next fall.

Plant fall-blooming bulbs in August; you will see flowers in 6 to 10 weeks.


For a beautiful early spring display, many gardeners plant spring-blooming crocuses in their lawns.

Just pick up a section of grass and carefully roll it up. Loosen the soil and mix in some compost, then plant the bulbs. Roll the grass back and tamp it down.

Grow white, purple, and yellow crocuses.  |

Some gardeners prefer a "sparse" look, with the bulbs planted randomly in small groups, rather than in formal rows. Others like to express their creativity by planting a design, such as a smiley face.

The saffron will emerge and bloom while the grass is still dormant. Be careful not to cut until the leaves of the plant turn yellow and wilt.

Purple crocus blooming in a lawn |

Lawn crocuses tend to self-seed generously, resulting in a spectacular carpet of vivid colors after a few years.

For spring-blooming crocuses, water liberally when you plant them and then let Mother Nature and winter rainfall do the work.

Crocuses are a welcome sign of spring in the Northeast, and others love the crocuses that bloom in the fall.  Pick your favorite and learn how to grow them with our tips:

For fall blooming crocuses, water liberally when planting and then water only if conditions are particularly arid.

Crocuses have no special feeding requirements. Depending on soil conditions, you can spray and water in a balanced granular fertilizer.


You will not need more than 10 or 12 plants of C. sativus to produce enough saffron for most household applications.

Harvest Your Own Homegrown Saffron |

Harvest the saffron mid-morning on a sunny day when the flowers are in full bloom. Tear off the stigmata with tweezers or your fingers.

Gently lay on a paper towel in a warm area to dry. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.


The available varieties of this flower are as abundant as a young child's tantrums. You'll find types available in lavender, orange, pink, purple, white, and gold, in shades ranging from soft to rich. They all sport a grass-like blade, often with a light stripe down the middle.


For spectacular late winter color, take a look at these tri-color crocus plants.


If there is an autumnal pot of Foodal's Chickpea Stew with Saffron Garlic Yogurt , or any of the other tempting recipes below, plant saffron crocus. These are available at Daylily Nursery via Amazon .

The bright purple flower petals are offset by the deep red stamens, which we harvest and call saffron. By the way, did you know that it takes about 35,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron?


For grass plantings (see below), the small C. tommasinianus or early blooming "tommies" are a popular choice.

This variety, available on amazon , includes 20 bulbs that produce fragrant pink lavender flowers. This type naturalizes very well.


Saffron bulbs are apparently quite tasty to squirrels, mice, and voles. Keep these greedy rodents out by surrounding your planting space with a wire barrier, such as chicken wire, to prevent them from burrowing.

Squirrels love to steal and eat tasty saffron bulbs |

Or do what a gardener I spoke to does: plant twice as many bulbs as you hope to grow and let the critters fill up.

These beautiful plants can also be victims of bulb nematodes and root-knot nematodes. You will have to pluck and discard the affected plants.

To prevent an infestation, regularly add micronutrient-rich compost to your gardens. Good compost organisms will help control nematodes.


Plant type: Bulb-like perennial flower Flower / Foliage Color: Blue and purple flowers are the most common. Pink, orange, white and yellow species and cultivars are also grown.
Native to: Eastern Mediterranean, naturalized in most of the world Water needs: Medium
Resistance (USDA Zone): 3-8 for spring blooming varieties and 6-10 for fall blooming varieties (no digging or chilling) Maintenance: Medium
Flowering time / season: Spring or fall, depending on the species or crop Tolerance: Frost
Exposition: Full sun, partial shade Soil type: Any organically rich clay soil.
Time to maturity: 6-10 weeks for fall flowering species or 4 months for spring flowering species Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.0
Spacing: 2-3 inches apart and arrange bunches in bunches Soil drainage: Well draining
Planting depth: 3-4 inches Accompanying sowing: For spring bloomers, plant with taller summer flowering perennials that will hide dying crocus greenery as the weather warms up.
Height: 3-6 inches depending on the species / cultivar Applications: Beds, borders, containers, massive plantings, mixed groupings
Spread: 3-4 inches Family: Iridescent
Growth rate: Fast; bulbs replicate quickly and may need to be rinsed every three years Gender: Saffron
Attracts: Bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Species: Various
Plagues and diseases: Mice, squirrels, root-knot nematodes, bulb mites, corm scabies, and mosaic virus


If the thought of another long and punishing winter is almost unbearable, plant a spring variety and you will have something joyous to look forward to during all the dreary months.

Yellow spring crocuses |

Or if your family can't get enough of paella and other savory, golden dishes, plant saffron saffron that blooms in fall and dazzles with exotic flavors.

Keep squirrels and their relatives away with chicken wire, and it should be rewarded with bright colors in spring or fall.

The entry HOW TO CULTIVATE AND CARE FOR SAFFRON FLOWERS was first published on


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