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Planting and Caring For Crocuses

Everything you could ever want to know about the crocus... on this Focus on the Flowers.

The crocus

Photo: noahg. (Flickr)

Crocus grow from corms, which are immune to cold, but very attractive to squirrels and rodents.

The earliest blooming crocus, normally seen in colonies in older gardens, is pale lavender with small delicate petals. When they naturalize or spread across a lawn or garden they create a wonderful lilac haze. The more modern varieties bloom later, especially those known as Dutch crocus, which are showier, larger and have petals with substance and sheen.

The Colors Of Crocus

There are deep purple, white, blue, yellow, and variegated blooms with thin grass – like foliage. Crocus grow from corms, which are immune to cold, but very attractive to squirrels and rodents. They can be planted in the fall until the ground freezes in sun or partial shade, though the ones in full sun will bloom first.

They can also be planted in ground cover and are good companions for small early blooming iris reticulata and the early miniature daffodils. The genus name from the Greek “Korkos” meaning threads, and the common name, is the same.

Stigmas And Saffron

The tips of the pistils of the flowers, on which pollen is deposited during pollination, are called stigmas. Saffron is made by collecting the stigmas of the oldest cultivated crocus (crocus sativa) and this is very painstaking work, as it must be done by hand.

Native to Spain, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region, the crocus has been a useful and much loved plant for centuries. An excavation in Crete yielded a jug decorated with drawings of crocus blooms believed to be made as early as 1500 B.C.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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