(Species: Crocus - Family: Iridaceae)
Crocus and its origins
First recorded in ancient Roman times, the Crocus is part of the Iris family and available in more than 80 known species. Named after the long and filamentous stigmas, it’s name is derived from the ancient Greek word “Kroke” meaning filament.
Saffron is created from the dried stigmas of Crocus Sativus, it is used in cooking as a natural colouring and flavouring additive.
Crocus species originate from across the globe, from central and southern Europe, to the Far East and Asia. Most spring-flowering cultivars have been obtained from the French Crocus Vernus.
Available in a wide variety of colours including whites, purples, oranges and yellows, the flowers are bright and vibrant and considered extremely easy to grow. They are one of the first flowers to appear in spring and these perennials are so hardy that they effortlessly cope with late spring frosts or even snow, making their appearance through light snow if necessary.
Seasonality: Crocus in flower
The Crocus is in bloom during winter and spring with some species flowering in autumn. The flower petals are generally linear leaves with a silver stripe running through the centre, they typically feature 3 stamen.
Many of the plant species commonly reach 8-10cm in height. They are very suited to naturalizing and can be planted in grassy lands, lawns or other wild areas of the garden in order to do this, bringing colour to your lawn.
How to Plant:
For best results, the Crocus should be planted in autumn but the period from September to October is considered the best time. The plant looks great in large drifts and so, a number of corms can be planted in close proximity to one another for a more dramatic and vibrant effect in the garden.
To ensure that they open fully when in bloom, they should be planted in a sunny position. Given their hardy nature, Crocuses can survive in exposed areas and also in poor quality soils. Plant a Crocus in a gritty, well-drained soil at a depth of 7-8cm and in groups of 5-6.
Propagation of Crocus
The crocus can seed prolifically and therefore, are relatively easy to propagate. As the bulbs are small, seedlings can appear to be blades of grass and so, care needs to be taken not to disturb these. Division of the bulb is also possible over time, as the main corm will produce small cormlets which can be detached and replanted when the bulb is dormant.
After flowering, the leaves should be left to dry and the corms left in the ground so that they can produce seedlings. If naturalising in the lawn, take extra care on timings when considering mowing to give these shoots a chance to grow in spring, rejuvenating the bulb.