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Crocus is a well-known plant that you see late in winter through the first few weeks of spring. But it’s most distinguishable by its flowers. Crocuses are often the first ones to bloom when spring comes and their flowers take on different colors.
But how do you grow crocuses? Crocuses don’t need a lot of care if you plant these in well-draining soil, water it judiciously without giving it too much moisture that can lead to rotting. You can also fertilize your crocus when necessary.
Crocuses are often described as easy to grow, but if you want your garden to be dotted with the colors of crocus flowers, then here are the things that you should do.
Crocuses Are Beautiful
The flowers of crocuses are shaped like a cup, with petals forming upward like the sides of a bowl. But more than the shape, what makes crocuses even more attractive is the varied colors of its blooms.
You have crocuses blooming in deep purple, others can have golden yellow flowers. There are also flowers that are white, two colors, and even striped ones. These flowers are framed by the plant’s grass-like leaves.
If the crocus produces a flower during the autumn, it’s without leaves because of the foliage sprout in spring. the flowers open fully when it’s sunny out.
Crocus: The Basics at a Glance
What do you need to know about crocuses? Here are the basics:
- Hardiness zones: 3-8, as such crocuses will ordinarily not grow in warmer climates.
- Height: Crocuses can grow up to three inches (7.6 centimeters) tall
- Spread: These plants can occupy a space six inches (15.2 centimeters) wide
- Light requirements: Partial to full sun
- Blooms: Late winter or early spring, some types bloom in autumn; one corm can produce any number of flowers
- Color: Flowers can be orange, lavender, purple, blue, yellow, white, or cream.
- Foliage: Grass-like and green
How Crocuses Grow: What You Need to Understand About Crocuses
Crocuses have corms, which is what you call the bulbs that they have. These corms have everything that the plant needs to grow and survive. But the corms only have enough nutrients to survive a growing season. After the flowers die, the entire plant will soon wilt and die as well.
But you may wonder why you have crocuses growing year after year. The reason for this is that new cormlets are being created by the flowers. When the flowers die, these cormlets store nutrients for your next batch of crocuses.
Types of Crocuses
Crocuses are part of the iris family. There are 80 species of crocuses out there and each one has its own colors, blooming time, and care requirements. If you know your crocuses, you can plant them together so that they’d give you a color show once they bloom all at once. Or you can choose to have the flowers bloom one by one.
Some crocuses bloom in the fall, others bloom early during the last few weeks of winter, and still others bloom late in spring.
What are the most popular crocuses that you should know?
- Crocus tommasinianus: If you have squirrels and you want them to stay away from your flower beds, the Crocus tommasinianus is a good choice to plant. They are resistant to squirrels. But what makes them a joy to plant is that they have pale violet or lavender flowers.
- Pickwick crocus: Nothing is as beautiful as Pickwick crocuses, with their violet flowers that are streaked with white stripes. They flower in the first weeks of April, together with daffodils.
- Crocus chrysanthus: Romance crocuses have butter-yellow flowers. These are usually smaller plants that grow only two or three inches (5.1 to 7.6 centimeters) tall.
- Zenith crocus: This type of crocus looks like the sky, with its light blue tinge mixed with white and sometimes a yellow center.
- Zwanenburg bronze crocus: This crocus has reddish to yellow flowers that bloom early in the season. It’s most notable for its fragrance.
- Saffron crocus: If you like cooking, you’d want to have saffron crocus in your garden. Revered by top chefs as a spice for their culinary masterpieces, the saffron crocus is surprisingly very easy to grow. It blooms in autumn.
- Firefly crocus: People who can’t get enough colors from the blooms they have in their gardens will like the yellow and purple hues in the flowers of this crocus.
How Do You Grow a Crocus
Fortunately, it’s easy to grow and care for crocuses. For some people, these plants grow wild and you don’t even have to attend to it. They just greet you with their colorful and bright blooms when spring starts.
For those who aren’t that lucky and will need to plant crocuses, everything’s a breeze. Here’s how.
Growing a Crocus Outdoors
If you want crocuses to line and beautify your garden and any outdoor space, you should find an area where it can get partial to full sun. Crocuses love soaking up the light.
You can plant the crocus bulbs in groups, and you don’t have to stick to a particular pattern in doing so. One trick is to just scatter the bulbs, called corms, and plant them where they land. This will help you achieve a more natural pattern with your outdoor crocuses.
The good thing about crocuses is that you can use almost any soil type that you have at home. Just make sure that you plant them in well-draining soil because of soggy or waterlogged soil with cause the bulb to rot.
Well-Draining Soil: How to Check
If you’re not sure whether you have well-draining soil where you are. To test if your soil doesn’t drain water too fast or too slowly, you will need to dig a hole in the ground, and then pour in water to fill the hole.
See how long it takes for the water to drain out completely. Here’s a video that explains this process more thoroughly:
Raised Beds for Your Crocuses
If you have clay soil or otherwise you have soil that is not well-draining, you can supplement it to make it drain better. You can mix the following materials into your soil:
- Peat moss
- Coco peat
- Brick powder
- Gypsum powder
- Sawdust or shredded bark
This video will explain why each one is an excellent addition to compact soil that retains too much water.
If you don’t like digging too much to mix these materials with the clay soil that you have, you can make raised beds to plant your crocuses in. You can create your own raised beds, and this video gives you a good idea of how to make one
Or you can buy a long planter box that can act as a raised bed if to make it easier.
The United States Department of Agriculture has mapped out hardiness zones for the entire country. These hardiness zones will tell you if a certain plant species will survive in a particular area. The good news is that most crocuses will survive in a wide variety of climates.
According to this page, crocuses can survive within hardiness zones 3 to 8. This means that crocuses can survive the cold winter months, where temperatures do not go below -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). To find out what your plant hardiness zone is, visit this page and enter your zip code.
When Should You Plant Your Crocus Bulb?
Crocus corms will require around 12 to 15 weeks of cold temperatures to start flowering. For most species of crocus, you will need to plant it in the fall. In warmer climates, it’s advisable to plant corms during the winter, but you should keep the bulb in the refrigerator until you’re ready to plant.
Other types of crocus bloom in the fall, such as the saffron. You can plant these around August or September.
Tips and Best Practices When Planting a Crocus
What are the general things that you should know when planting a crocus?
- Crocus and other flowering plants need to be planted deeply. You should push the corms in by about four inches (10 centimeters) deep into the soil.
- Proper spacing is also a good idea if you want your crocus to grow healthily. You should plant them by at least three inches (7.5 centimeters) apart.
- Make sure that you push the corms down into the soil with the pointed tip facing upwards.
Growing a Crocus Indoors
Crocuses can be houseplants as well. You can grow them in containers and put them indoors. Crocuses are easy to grow, especially when you pot them.
You will need a good soil mix such as this Burpee potting mix that is formulated for container gardening. What’s more, this product can feed your crocuses for three months, giving it enough nutrients for it to bloom better.
You should also consider using a bulb planter that makes it easier to plant and transplant your crocus. To plant crocus in a container, you should bury it so that only the tips stick out of the soil. You can then water the corms and put the pot in a dark or shaded area for a few months.
Crocus bulbs need a temperature of around 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 to 7.2 degrees Celsius). When you see that the bulb has sprouted, you can move it to a warmer and brighter place for it to continue to grow.
Further, make sure that your indoor crocuses have enough sunlight. give it anywhere from four to six hours in the sun, and it will be happy and will reward you with beautiful blooms.
Forcing a Crocus to Bloom
If you want to see your crocuses flower during the cold winter months, you can bring it indoors and trick it into thinking that the temperatures have risen. The warmer temperatures inside your home will force it to grow and bloom.
Crocuses: Watering Requirements
Crocus is generally easy to care for and when it comes to watering, it’s pretty low maintenance. You only have to water it when the soil’s surface is dry.
However, you need to make sure that you don’t give it too much water as it can cause your plant to rot. However, if you want to give your crocus a good headstart, you can adjust the watering schedule depending on what stage of growth your plant is in:
- When planting, water your crocus as soon as you finish planting the bulb. It’s best practice to water from the edges and to give your new plant a few inches of water.
- During flowering, these plants like developing deep roots and will not need too much water because they bloom when it’s rainy. Water only when there is no rain and the soil around your plant has dried out.
- When fertilizing, it helps to water your crocuses once you put the fertilizer into the soil. If you’re using granular or non-water-soluble fertilizer, water once you have scattered it around your crocus as this will help to settle into the soil. You don’t have to water your plants more if the fertilizer is water-soluble.
- During winter, don’t water your crocus. These plants will have enough water in their bulbs to survive the colder months and greet you with flowers as spring comes.
Fertilizing Your Crocuses
Crocuses have everything they need to grow and flourish in their bulbs, so you will probably not need to fertilize it that much. However, you will need to wait until the leaves turn brown before you cut them.
If you do have poor soil that needs nutrients, you can use bone meal. How do you make bone meal? Here’s a video that shows you how:
Or you can use plant food that is specially formulated for crocuses, such as the Espoma BT18 Bulb Tone. When should you fertilize your crocuses?
The best time to feed your crocuses is during the fall when they’re sending roots out into the soil. If you missed that window, you may still fertilize them as spring begins, when the leaves start to push out of the soil.
Remember to avoid fertilizing your crocuses when they are in bloom, because this may lead to rot that will cause the flowers to die prematurely.
Dormancy: What You Should Do with Crocuses After They Bloom
You mustn’t cut down the leaves of your crocuses even after they bloom. The leaves will need to photosynthesize and make food for the cormlets for your next season’s blooms.
The general rule is to leave crocuses alone while the leaves are still green. You can cut them back once they’ve turned brown but not before then.
As far as fertilizing dormant crocuses, you can consider giving them additional nutrients if you have been growing crocuses in the same soil year after year. It’s best to fertilize the soil where your crocuses grow every fall if this is the case.
Summer can be very hot in some areas, but do not water your crocuses when they are dormant. The corms will not need the water while they are in dormancy and if you do water them, it might lead to corm rot. When fall comes, the falling rain will wake the corms up and they get to work pushing roots out and down the soil.
If you’re having a dry autumn season, you will want to water your crocuses. Make sure that you give it just enough water as waterlogged soil can cause rot. And stop supplemental watering if it starts to rain.
Dividing Your Crocuses
If you have been growing crocuses for years, you will notice that they usually become overcrowded over time. This setup is good if you like their grass-like leaves, but it usually means that they produce fewer flowers.
If you’re missing the abundant blooms, you can divide your crocuses every three to five years. How do you do this?
- Wait until the start of the autumn season when the flowers have wilted and the leaves are turning brown.
- You can dig up the corms and harvest the cormlets.
- Plant the biggest cormlets.
Here’s a video that shows you how to do this properly:
Problems and Pests
Crocuses you grow outside are not exempted from attacks from pests and other animals.
Rodents: Eaten Corms
Mice, squirrels, or voles are often the culprit if you find your crocuses eaten or their bulbs gnawed out. Squirrels and mice can eat the bulbs while voles can burrow underground and do the same.
You can line your planting area with hardware cloth to discourage these animals from attacking your crocuses. Or you can add crushed gravel over your bulb beds to stop chipmunks or squirrels from helping themselves.
Frost: Distorted and Problematic Stems and Leaves
If your area experiences a frost during late spring, the petals or leaves of your crocuses might develop brown spots and blotches. They may even appear ragged and some of them may split.
You can prevent frost damage by putting mulch on the plant beds just after the ground freezes at the start of winter or during fall. Also, you should sweep or rake away fallen leaves that gather around your crocuses because these might become sodden with rainwater that can make frost damage worse or choke new sprouts that come out in the spring.
Bulb Pests: Stunted or Misshaped Plants and Decaying Corms
Several types of nematodes can attack the bulbs of your crocuses. Nematodes are tiny worms that live in the soil and can feed on your crocuses by sucking on their cells. Crocuses that are infested with either root-knot nematodes or bulb nematodes will look unhealthy, sickly, stunted, or wilted. The leaves will turn brown or yellow. If left untreated, your crocuses will dry.
Another type of pest that can destroy your crocuses is bulb mites, which are very small and are soil dwellers.To deal with these pests, you will need to dig up the affected corms and throw them away. You should add compost to your plant beds to encourage the growth of bacteria that an attack these pests.
It’s also good practice to plant your crocuses in another area away from the soil that is infested with bulb pests to keep them safe.
Corm Scab: Water-Soaked Spots
Corm scabs are often transmitted by bulb mites and can result in your corms having lesions that can kill the plant. Destroy or throw out the infected corms.
The unaffected corms should be dipped in a fungicide solution before you plant them. If you don’t have one at home, you can follow this to make one at home:
Or you can buy fungicide such as the Spectracide 100507462 Immunox Multi-Purpose Fungicide Spray Concentrate.
Mosaic Virus and Aphids: Streaked Flowers and Petals
You might think that having streaks of color on your crocus is a good thing, but it’s caused by the mosaic virus and can easily weaken your crocuses. If you notice streaks in your crocus leaves and flowers, you should uproot them and throw them out.
You will need to disinfect whatever tools you used to uproot the affected crocuses, with a weak bleach solution. You can also use an antiviral disinfectant such as the Diversey Virex All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner. According to this page, leafhoppers, aphids, and other insects spread the mosaic virus. Add some aluminum foil as a mulch or use a floating row cover for your plants.
You can also view this video to learn how to get rid of aphids.
Answer: Crocus corms bloom in the spring, but you should start planting them late in the summer or during the first few days of autumn. These plants need at least 15 weeks to get out of dormancy before it can send roots down and sprout.
Answer: Yes, crocuses come back every year once you have crocuses growing in an area. What’s more, you get more and more blooms with each passing year. Each flower will produce more corms every season and this will bloom the following year.
Answer: Crocus comes from the ancient Greek word for saffron. Saffron is one of the many varieties of crocus. Crocuses are one of the few plants with very ancient common names.
Answer: Naturalizing is a term that is very used when people talk about crocuses and other bulbs. When it refers to crocuses, naturalizing means to plant your bulbs in a way that looks natural, wild, or informal.
Naturalized plants, once established, will grow every year with more flowers and blooms. When naturalizing, it helps to select a spot with well-draining soil and a good four to six hours of full sun.
Also, choose an area where you and your family members don’t go often, the less foot traffic, the better for your crocuses to thrive and survive. Scatter your crocuses around this area and bury the bulbs where they fall.
Grow Crocuses for Your Garden Today
Following our tips here can help you easily grow crocuses in your garden and enjoy their multi-colored flowers. And while crocuses are generally hassle-free to grow, some pests and problems can plague it, which is up to you to solve.
With more than six dozen varieties of crocuses, however, you should still check if there are specific care requirements for a particular variety you’d want to plant. Autumn-blooming crocuses, for one, need to be planted at an earlier time than spring-blooming varieties.
For the most part, however, you will need to remember the same things for most crocuses. Enjoy planting the corms and see them bloom two months after!