Crocus

These bulbs bring big color in a small package.


Crocus blooms in bright white, buttery yellow, and velvety purple. Purple-striped varieties also exist. Purple crocuses snuggle up to orange tulips.

Although most gardeners are familiar with the Dutch hybrids (Crocus vernus), various lesser-known crocus species are equally wonderful. Flowers of species crocus are smaller than the Dutch hybrids but bloom earlier, most sending forth blooms before the foliage has caught up. Both types of crocus are at their best planted in large drifts or clumps. Some species of crocus bloom in spring, others in fall. The more familiar spring-bloomers appear here.

Learn more about other beautiful bulbs, such as cannas.

Varieties

Latin Name: Crocus biflorus
Common Name: Scotch crocus
Zone: 5-9
Description: A popular choice for rock gardens, the lavender-shaded Scotch crocus grows to about 4 inches tall. Some varieties are striped and are stunning mixed with other crocuses.

Latin Name: Crocus chrysanthus
Common Name: Snow crocus, golden crocus
Zone: 4-9
Description: The snow crocus has small blooms and grows to 4 inches tall. Leaves appear after the blooms. An early and colorful spring bloomer, this hardy crocus chases away the last remnants of snow to usher in spring in its vivid shades of yellow, white, and blue. For a yellow-and-purple crocus, try 'E. A. Bowles'; for a pure-white crocus, plant 'Snow Bunting.'

Latin Name: Crocus tomasinianus
Common Name: Tomasinian crocus
Zone: 4-9
Description: The unusual lavender blooms of this crocus open to a star shape and expose bright orange stigmas. Both leaves and blooms appear at the same time. An early spring flower, it grows to 4 inches tall. This species reproduces quickly.

Latin Name: Crocus vernus
Common Name: Dutch crocus, common crocus
Zone: 3-9
Description: The most widely cultivated crocus, Dutch crocus flowers are larger than those of other species. These hardy little bloomers look stunning in clumps of eight to 12 bulbs or naturalized in lawns. Combine the snow-white 'Jeanne d'Arc' with golden-yellow 'Yellow Mammoth,' the lavender-striped 'Pickwick,' and the deep velvet-purple 'Remembrance.'

Crocus Planting and Care

Location: Full sun
When to plant:
Fall
General Instructions: Place corms 2 inches apart and 2 to 4 inches deep. Top-dress the soil with bonemeal or a balanced fertilizer after planting and each fall for the most abundant bloom. For massive color, plant at least 100 crocuses in an area. Because these hardy bulbs are inexpensive and easy to naturalize, the return far exceeds the investment. Crocus multiplies prolifically and you'll be rewarded by large clumps of blooms that increase in size each year.

Rodents relish the flavor of crocus, so you may have to take preventive measures against marauding pests. To discourage invaders, sprinkle blood meal around the sprouting shoots and repeat after each heavy rain. For best blooms the following year, do not cut back the foliage until it is completely withered.

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