We’re always really excited when we see the first purple crocus of the year alongside our snowdrops. It's a sure sign that winter will be coming to an end and that spring will soon follow with daffodils and tulips close on the heels of the those first wonderful crocus blooms that helped to kick it all off. Most at home in woodlands and meadows, crocuses are native to a hugh geographic area from Europe, through the Middle East and all the way to Asia so are perfectly capable of dealing with anything a british winter can send their way. In fact, their biggest threat is of their own making; their irresistibility to rodents like mice and squirrels who sometimes dig up the corms to eat.
If you want to plant crocuses for the first time, or add to your existing ones, the varieties you pick will probably depend on what you want to do with them. Do you want to create eye catching displays of pots on your patio, create a colourful mat of purple, white or yellow under a tree, or naturalise a few handfuls of corms in grass? It’s easy to get lost in the variety of crocuses it’s possible to grow so we’ve explained the characteristics of the spring flowering crocuses in our range below to help you choose.
C. Vernus (Dutch Hybrids)
Also known as ‘Giant Crocus’ these dutch hybrids are some of the most common and most popular varieties grown in the UK. Taller and with much larger flowers, the dutch hybrids flower much later than all the other varieties and are quite versatile so work just as well in pots, or in borders as they do in grass. We think the best way to make the most of these big flowers is to plant them in large drifts at the front of a border or in grass. Three popular examples are pictured below.
Joan of Arc
C. Tomasinianus (Early Crocus)
Also known as the early crocus, the Tomasinianus species flowers very early in spring. If you are looking for a crocus that you want to naturalise then a tomasinianus variety is the best choice. They spread fantastically well and will increase rapidly to produce seemingly endless delicate silvery blooms year after year. As well as being perfectly suited to planting in grass, these varieties look brilliant in rockeries.
C. chrysanthus / C. seiberi (Snow Crocus)
Both C. chrysanthus and C. seiberi are both often known as snow crocus due to their early flowering period with their flower buds often seen emerging through snow in the spring. The flowers on these varieties are quite small, but the make up for this in the large number of flowers produced. You can find some interesting patterned varieties alongside some equally beautiful and striking single coloured shades.
C. sativus (Saffron Crocus)
Unlike the other varieties we sell the saffron crocus flowers in late autumn. This plant produces three bright red stigmas which is the spice, saffron. You'll need to plant a lot if you want a good supply of saffron to last you over a number of meals, but even planting a small amount of corms will give you some beautiful flowers to enjoy before winter, with the added bonus of at least one meal coloured with your very own home grown saffron!