Early September is the best time to purchase these garden gems. I fell in love with them when visiting VanDusen Botanical Garden. They are truly photogenic and it is a true treasure, popping out of the soil and announcing that Fall has arrived!. .
There are two groups, crocus and colchicum – both are referred to as autumn crocus. They share the same planting time in early Fall. Bloom time commences shortly after planting and blooms appear without leaves, thus also being known as naked ladies. In spring they re-emerge with broad (colchicum) and strap-like (crocus) foliage. It is important to feed them at this time. The foliage will die back in the beginning of the summer, going dormant only to emerge again for the Fall.
Autumn crocus are small corms similar to spring crocus, and grow about 4-5 inches tall, while colchicums are larger bulbs growing to about 8 inches. Another identifying feature is that crocus have three stamens while colchicums have six. Colchicum are also poisonous so do not assume that the stamens are edible. Only with Crocus sativus can you harvest the stamens for your own saffron!
Crocus are best planted in groups of 10-15 bulbs, making a nice floral impact. Colchicum speciosum The Giant is a much larger bulb and can be planted in groups of 3-5. They prefer some sunlight and will naturalize into firm clumps for future years. Plant all crocus about 2in deep and colchicums a bit deeper. Ensure that they have good drainage. They are often planted under trees and shrubs. Planting them amongst groundcover is a good idea, as once the foliage dies down you will have the groundcover to enjoy and then it will provide a stage for the beautiful flowers in fall. Another option is to plant them in containers to enjoy this fall and then replant them into the garden after you have enjoyed their blooms close up.
They are not readily available, and there is a small window for planting them. Get them planted this September so you can enjoy them this Fall and for many years to come.
Crocus lutea: Golden Yellow, 8in height
Crocus ochoroleucus: Creamy white, 4in height
Crocus sativus: Reddish Purple, 4in height
Crocus speciosus: Lilac Blue, 4in height
Crocus zonatus: Carmine Pink, 5in height
Colchicum cartwrigthtianus: White Violet Blue. 3in Height. Plant 2in deep
Colchicum speciosum The Giant: Pale Pink, 8in height
Varieties currently available.