Around February each year the weather in Yorkshire can start to improve. It may start out cold, almost frosty, but as the sun rises often so does the temperature. Once the sun shines crocuses may open up, in all their glory. They look so sweet, fully opened and embracing the sun. This humble flower which is so often overlooked is a pretty addition to a late winter garden
Crocuses are bought as very small corms. A corm is lightly different to a bulb and tends to be smaller. A packet of these corms will usually contain about fifty and be quite cheap to buy.
Crocuses originated in Europe and I suppose that is one of the reasons they seem quite happy with or strange temperate climate. However they are really from the more southern regions of Europe. My Crocuses are among the many plants which were swamped in previous flooding but survived so I guess they are quite hardy. They are also perennials which mean that they keep coming back into flower each year.
The crocus is from the Iris family, or Iridaceae, and I can see that connection in the flowers. The name crocus is from the Greek, Krokos. This relates to the fact that the spice Saffron is taken from a particular crocus, the Saffron Crocus. I used saffron for years to colour white rice to yellow before I realised where it came from.
I was fascinated to see that there are about 80 different types of crocus, although only about 30 of these are cultivated. No wonder you often come across strange looking ones on the Greek Islands, for example. I have yellow, purple and white crocuses in my garden. They have small, narrow, green leaves with a white stripe running down the centre strip. The flowers when closed almost look like a small Tulip when there is no sun around. However when it is, as today, lovely and sunny, these flowers open up. There will be about 6 to 8 petals which are paler toward the centre.
The stems are about 3 to 4 inches long depending on the variety and the flowers are about the same height. Generally Crocuses flower in Spring though there are some Autumn varieties. Some of these Autumn crocuses are not strictly speaking crocuses though.
They are a great little plant for adding early colour to window boxes, planters, laws, flower beds and borders. They can be planted in bulb fibre indoors in bowls. The great thing about them is they are so tough. If they are planted in grass you can just mow them with the grass after they have finished flowering. You may not want them in your lovely lawn but may welcome then in natural grassy borders.
Crocuses tend to like plenty of sun hence their pretty opening up on a sunny day. They tend to like good soil with plenty of drainage. Still they must be quite tough as they survived being underwater for quite a while with the floods.
Crocuses can be propagated by dividing the corms which grow at the foot of the plant in late summer. For me the best time to plant is early Autumn. I usually try to stagger planting of corms and bulbs through Autumn so that there are always some just about to flourish once Spring is on the way.
There are no rules with Crocuses. You can plant them close together or not. I have some at the base of a large plant and I have these planted individually around with regular spaces between them. I also have some that are planted in small groups of 5 or 6 together and the groups are close also. If you want to split colours into groups make sure that you buy the appropriate corms.
However, for me I like to have the three colours growing in a mish mash of colour. Once they flower the flowers will last a few weeks and then all too soon they are gone for another year. If you do not want to do anything you can just leave them and they will wither away and faithfully return the next year.
Along with snowdrops and daffodils, Crocuses say to me Spring has arrived and Summer will be following on behind' Crocuses are recommended as an easy to care for, trouble free little plant that can lift your spirits on a cold day.
Please note as with all bulbs and corms, keep out of children's and pet's reach as ingestion can cause problems or may poison.
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