How To Plant crocuses

General Introduction

When it seems like winter will never lose its icy grip, the dainty crocus pushes through the snow to put on a show of colorful revival. Plant this perennial flower in the fall for an early spring delight!  Here’s how to plant, grow, and care for crocuses in your garden!

From snow crocuses (the first to bloom) to giant Dutch crocuses, all just 2 to 4 inches tall, these blooms offer a variety in color (pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blues, and more) that stand out against the bleak late-winter landscape. Many have strong perfumes that lure bees out of their hives in February or March.

Crocus bulbs (technically called “corms”) not only provide winter garden color, but they naturalize, meaning that they spread and come back year after year—with minimum care—for an ever-larger display. As a bonus, deer, squirrels, and rabbits rarely bother early little crocus corms.

Planting

  • 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 and when the soil temperature is below 60°F (16°C). This is usually during September and October in the northern U.S. and Canada, and October and November in the southern United States.
  • Choose a planting site where there is well-draining soil; bulbs will rot in soggy, compacted ground.
  • Before planting, work in organic matter such as compost, peat, or something like shredded leaves to a depth of at least 10 inches.
  • 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.
  • Learn more about planting fall bulbs.

Care

  • Apply a balanced fertilizer in early autumn if your spring is short and the days heat up fast; or, apply fertilizer after bulbs flower in late winter if your spring is long and temperate. The crocuses  will have a chance to use the extra nutrients to produce bigger carbohydrate stores.
  • Through the autumn, keep crocus beds watered if weather gets dry, but do not waterlog the soil. Cover the beds with mulch before the winter.
  • In late February, remove mulches from snowdrops and crocuses so the shoots can come through.
  • In February and March, keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of crocuses and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.
  • If you have crocuses growing in your lawn in mid-Spring, don’t mow until their leaves have died down.

Pests/Diseases

  • Mice, voles, and squirrels may feed on the corms. If they are a problem, consider planting crocuses in buried wire cages.
  • Birds sometimes pick off the flowers.
  • Corms in storage are prone to rot and molds if kept too moist.

Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Bowles White’ produces white flowers with deep golden yellow throats in early spring. It grows 2 to 3 inches tall.
  • ‘Flower Record’ has single pale violet flowers in spring to early summer. It grows 4 to 5 inches tall.
  • ‘Pickwick’ is a striped crocus with alternating pale and dark lilac and dark purple bases. It’s 4 to 5 inches tall and blooms in spring to early summer.
  • ‘Tricolor Crocus’ is a beauty. Each narrow flower has three distinct bands of lilac, white, and golden yellow. It grows 3 inches tall and blooms in late winter and early spring.
  • ‘Purpureus Grandiflorus’ has abundance violet flowers with purple bases. It grows 4 to 5 inches tall and blooms spring to early summer.

Wit & Wisdom

  • In the language of flowers, crocus means cheerfulness.

How To Plant crocuses

Botanical NameCrocus
Plant TypeBulb
Sun ExposureFull Sun, Part Sun
Soil TypeAny, Loamy
Soil pH
Bloom TimeSpring, Winter
Flower ColorBlue, Orange, Pink, Purple, White, Yellow
Hardiness Zones3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Special Features

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