Crocus

Latin Names: Crocus vernus, Crocus chrysanthus, Crocus tommasinianus, Crocus sativus, Crocus sieberi, Colchicum autumnale, & Colchicum cilicicum *AND MORE!*


This plant does not have an identity crisis.

One plant (common name "Crocus") has SO MANY different types.

This is why Latin is important. Explore these differences below:

Crocus vernus (Dutch crocus)

Photo Credit: Missouri Botanical Gardens


Crocus tommasinianus (Snow crocus)

Photo Credit: Missouri Botanical Gardens

● Canadian Hardiness Zone: 4-9* (Gardenia.net)

(USDA Zone: 3-8, according to MBG)

● Plant Type: Perennial Bulb (or Corm)

● Bloom Time: Late Winter, Early Spring or Autumn (depending on variety)

● Bloom Colour: yellows, purples, pinks white and oranges

● Maintenance: Low

● Water Use: Medium

*see "Ideal Growing Conditions"


"If I buy you, bring you home, stick you in the ground, water you and love you -

and you DIE on me - either I didn't do my research OR - you're a sh*t plant."

- a Motivational Speech for plants

Benefits

What makes this plant beneficial to people, places, animals or our environment?


  • Showy flowers bloom at times of year when there is limited colour or visual interest

  • Spring or late winter blooming varieties are short enough that they can be planted in lawn areas - the blooms finish just in time to mow for the first time!

  • Source of food for pollinators early and late in the season

  • Black Walnut tolerant!

Characteristics

What does it LOOK like?


Generally a low-growing perennial bulb with fine, grass-like foliage and small, delicate flowers.


Height & Spread: 3-6 inches


Crocus sativus (Saffron crocus)

Photo Credit: Gardenia.net


Crocus sieberi (Sieber's crocus)

Photo Credit: Gardenia.net

Ideal Growing Conditions

Where does it GROW?


Plant in well-drained soils in Full Sun to Part Shade.

Avoid wet, saturated soils as the bulbs can rot if left sitting in water.

Flower production will increase if planted in Full Sun.

May not survive if exposed to prolonged drought during hot summers.

Pests/Diseases/Issues

Does this plant attract deer, mosquitos or Japanese beetles? Is it susceptible to blight, leaf spot or root rot?


  • Squirrels, mice and other rodents have been known to take a liking to freshly planted crocus bulbs (or corms).

  • Slugs and snails can be attracted to Colchicum varieties

  • Fungul smutt can attack Colchicum leaves. Remove asap.

  • Deer & Black Walnut Tolerant

Crocus chrysanthus (Snow crocus)

Photo Credit: Gardenia.net

In the Garden/Home/Landscape

Why did I choose to spend my time writing about this particular plant?


  • These bulbs (or corms) provide early AND late season visual interest (depending on variety)

  • A visual extravaganza of colour when planted in masses!

  • Very low maintenance and easy to maintain

Colchicum autumnale (Meadow saffron)

Photo Credit: Gardenia.net


Colchicum cilicicum (Autumn crocus)

Photo Credit: Missouri Botanical Gardens

Main Differences

What makes each variety/type different than others?


  1. Crocus vernus (Dutch Crocus): Early Spring Bloom, flowers open during the day and close overnight and during cloudy/overcast days

  2. Crocus chrysanthus (Snow Crocus): Native to Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. Late Winter-Early Spring bloom appears same time as Snowdrops.

  3. Crocus tommasinianus (Snow Crocus): Named in honour of Botanist Muzo Giuseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879). Early bloom appears before the Dutch Crocus.

  4. Crocus sativus (Saffron Crocus): Source of the saffron spice. "It takes about 1/4 million stigmas (75,000 flowers) to produce one pound of saffron." - MBG

  5. Crocus sieberi (Sieber's Crocus): Long-lived, propagates quickly. Known as possibly the most beautiful of the crocus varieties.

  6. Colchicum autumnale (Meadow Saffron): blooms in early Autumn, poisonous, pinkish blooms. Will shoot up only the leaves in Spring and only the flowers in Fall.

  7. Colchicum cilicicum (Autumn Crocus): Native to Turkey, blooms Sept-Oct. Will shoot up only the leaves in Spring and only the flowers in Fall.

Tips, Tricks and Notes


  1. These bulbs do not produce viable seed. Separate bulbs/corms to propagate.

  2. The genus Colchicum comes from the Colchicaceae family of plants while the Crocus genus is part of the Iridaceae family. They're not even CLOSELY related yet are both referred to commonly as "Crocus".

  3. Plant Spring-blooming bulbs/corms in Fall and Fall-blooming bulbs/corms in Spring. Easy as pie.

Other Resources:

This is just one plant of SO MANY!

Stay tuned for a new post each week that summarizes an Annual, Perennial, Shrub or Tree!

Weekly #FridayFeatureFlower At the top is the pep talk I give my new plants before purchasing them.

I have had a lot dead plants and broken-hearts over the years and I hope that this weekly feature will provide a bit of the research side to help others from suffering my same fate.


~ LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES ~

The main focus of this blog is plants that thrive outdoors in Southwestern Ontario.

Each week, I’ll review benefits, characteristics, growing conditions, Pests/Diseases/Issues and landscape/garden design applications of one of my favourite, high-impact, low-maintenance plants!

#FridayFeatureFlower

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Have you had a different experience with this plant?

Love it? Hate it? Want to know where you can find it? Is there a plant or flower you would like to know more about?


Leave your comments below

or contact me through my website: www.mylandscapeartist.ca


Heather Jerrard, My Landscape Artist


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