Crocus – Planting Suggestions & Care Tips
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
Every year I look forward to the first flowers in spring. Crocus is one of the first to poke brave shoots out of the ground, even when snow still lingers in the yard.
A crocus is a perennial that can be grown either indoors or outdoors. I prefer growing them outside in the lawn and garden beds. They are low-growing, producing thin sword-like leaves and colorful flowers. Each crocus bloom is generally cup-shaped, and the flowers come in many colors. They tend to grow in bunches, which can be divided and transplanted. Crocus plants are a low-maintenance planting, and they are one of the first spring flowers.
Technically, a crocus is not a bulb. They grow from corms. (I tend to refer to them as bulbs.) There are many varieties of crocus, so this is a basic breakdown.
Species Crocus – These plants tend to bloom a few weeks earlier than other crocus varieties. I call them “fairy flowers” since the ones in my yard have a delicate almost ethereal appearance when compared to my other crocus flowers. The Species Crocus flowers growing in my yard are a pale lavender shade or solid white. They also easily spread, growing from one area to another.
Dutch Crocus – Most likely the crocus plants you see are of the Dutch variety. The blooms are larger than the Species Crocus flowers. The flowers also come in a variety of solid colors as well as petals that are striped. My experiences growing Dutch crocus is that they don’t as easily spread as do the Species Crocus.
When and How to Plant
My crocus bulbs are planted all around the yard. Some of them I placed in the lawn, and it’s amazing how many people strolling by the house comment on the colorful blooms. I located other crocus bulbs in garden beds around the property.
Plan ahead. It is best to plant these bulbs in the autumn, about six or so weeks before the first hard frost.
Crocus plants prefer a location that is sunny or in a lightly shaded area. I dig the earth down six inches to a foot to loosen the soil. They also like well-drained soil, so if needed, I add compost from my compost bin (but not manure). If you look at the corm, you will see it has a pointy side. This side is placed face up about four inches beneath the ground. Plant the corms three inches apart. For the best effect, it is good to plant groupings of these bulbs. Crocus plants always look spectacular when grown in bunches. You can create small clusters or larger plantings depending upon the effect you are creating.
Care & Maintenance
A great feature of crocus plants is that once in the ground, they pretty much take care of themselves.
For the crocus plants I grow in my lawn, I let the long crocus leaves die back (returning their energy to the corm) before I mow that section of the lawn. Therefore, if planting crocus bulbs in the lawn, think carefully where you place them. Mowing their green leaves before the leaves die back could harm the bulbs.
If you want to divide crocus, wait until the leaves are all but dead. Then gently use a pitch fork to loosen the bulbs from the earth. Divide and replant the crocus as desired and water them. Be careful not to over-water crocus or the corms could rot.
Crocus plants are bright harbingers of the warmer weather to come. They require little care once planted, which make them a great low-maintenance garden addition. I grow several varieties throughout the yard and always enjoy their colorful blooms.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2011 Dawn Lesley Stewart