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Crocuses - Printable Version

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Crocuses - forwardone - 12-06-2006 05:47 PM

Crocuses are very easy to grow, requiring minimal maintenance, and are relatively disease free. They can be used at the front of a border, naturalised in lawns or under and around trees. They also look good when grown in containers.
[Image: crocus_purple.jpg]
These are fairly easy to grow and require well-drained soil.

C. sativus: the saffron crocus has light purple flowers with dark stripes on the outside. And long red stigmas which saffron is harvested from. Can be tricky to grow.
C. speciosus: the first to flower in the UK, starting in September. This crocus is a popular species with varying colours from white to deep lilac blue. It is easy to grow and ideal for the front of borders or in grass.
Early spring-flowering species

These flower from about February to March, and have a smaller corm. They require well-drained soil.

C. chrysanthus 'Snow Bunting': creamy white with pale blue-grey feathering on the outside.
C. chrysanthus 'Lady Killer': purple-violet with white margins. Inside it is pale lilac, almost white.
C. chrysanthus 'E.A. Bowles': goblet-shaped with rich lemon yellow flowers with purple feathering and a bronze base on the outer petals.
C. sieberi subsp. sublimes 'Tricolor': flowers have deep purple tips, then a zone of white and a deep yellow throat.
C. tommasinianus: a very easy plant to grow, which will seed all over the garden. Flower varies from pale lilac to deep purple. Tips of petals are darker. Will tolerant some shade.
Late spring-flowering Dutch hybrids
White crocus

These large flowering crocuses are the most commonly grown. They can often be seen in bedding schemes and growing naturalised throughout the gardens of England during March and April. All these Dutch hybrids are from C. vernus. They require well-drained soil in full or partial sun.

C. vernus: the true species comes in various shades from lavender purple to pale white.

Cultivars include:

C. vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc' - pure white
C. vernus 'Pickwick' - white with deep and pale lilac stripes. Has a deep purple base.
C. vernus 'Enchantress' - soft, pale blue flowers with a silvery gloss on the exterior.
C. vernus 'Remembrance' - violet with a silvery gloss on the outside born in late spring.
C. vernus 'Grand Maître' - dark blue
Growing tips

* plant autumn-flowering bulbs from August to October, spring-flowering bulbs from late September to November
* a bulb planter helps to take out a core of soil, however, a trowel is just as suitable
* plant deeply at about 6cm to 10cm deep (3in to 4in) and the same distance apart
* add grit and general-purpose compost when planting in poorly-drained soil.
* water the corm in after planting
* sprinkle a general purpose fertiliser after planting and work it in lightly with a rake or fork
* let plants die back naturally after planting - no need for deadheading
* if they are in containers the crocuses will require feeding with a low-nitrogen, high potash liquid feed (such as tomato feed) every two weeks
* To create a natural look on less formal areas of a lawn, it is best to freely scatter the corms over the planting area and then plant them where they fall.


Propagation

* By division - this is the easiest method of propagation. After several years, clumps can be dug up in the autumn and the bulbs divided and replanted.
* Siebol tricolor crocusBy seed: some species, such as C. tommasinianus, will seed freely around the garden. Seed can be collected from the plants. Species of crocus should produce plants that are true from seed. Seed from cultivars might produce some interesting variations. Sow in a well-drained compost when seeds are ripe. Most species will usually flower three years after sowing.


Problem solver

Crocuses aren't disease-prone and are fairly trouble-free. The main pests are squirrels, rabbits and rodents that dig the bulbs up. To prevent this it might be necessary to place chicken wire over the planting area. Plant crocuses deeply to deter squirrels. Some growers quickly dunk the bulbs in paraffin prior to planting as the smell deters the squirrels.