The Crocus is a perennial flower that is planted in the fall for an early spring delight. It is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. They come in a variety of colors: purple, lavender, blue, orange, yellow, cream and white and have narrow, grass-like foliage. Crocus plants will multiply and come back year after year, bringing more blooms with them each time. As a bonus, deer, squirrels, and rabbits rarely bother eating little crocus corms (the bulbs). Birds sometimes pick off the flower and mice and voles may feed on the corms. Crocuses don’t require any pruning. Simply let the foliage die back after blooming and then remove it. It is important to let them die back naturally, as they are storing food and energy for next season. If you have crocuses growing in your lawn in mid-Spring, don’t mow until their leaves have died down.
They grow in zones 3-8 but will not grow in hotter climates. They are usually 3 to 6 inches tall and like partial to full sun. Crocus bloom from late winter to early spring depending on the variety. There are two types of spring-flowering crocuses: species varieties (snow crocus or wild crocus) which are smaller and the first to bloom, and the other is the Dutch crocus that has a larger flower and blooms a little later than the species varieties. Crocus blossoms are magnets for hungry bees, drawn to the rich, golden pollen inside each flower.
- Plant the bulbs (corms) before the ground freezes (6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected) and the soil temperature is below 60°F (16°C) in the fall (September and October in the northern U.S. and Canada and October and November in the southern United States). Plant anywhere except in the dense shade on the north side of buildings or under thickets.
- Plant the bulbs where there is well-draining soil; bulbs will rot in soggy compacted ground. Gritty to sandy soils or rock gardens work well.
- Plant crocus corms 3 to 4 inches deep (with the pointy end up). After planting, water well.
- Plant bulbs in groups of 3 to 9 bulbs or clusters rather than spacing them in a single line along a walkway or border. Single flowers get lost in the landscape. Plant groups a few inches apart.
- 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 crocus bulbs for color contrast.