Everything You Need to Know About Crocus
Crocus is a popular late winter and early spring flowering perennial. It looks exquisite when the colourful petals push through dusty white snow.
This low-growing plant performs best after a cold winter so is suited to most parts of the UK inc Scotland. Crocus may struggle in warmer parts of the UK such as the far south-west.
- Grown from small bulbs, planted shallow.
- Will multiply and bloom each year.
- Sow in drifts.
- Can grow in lawns.
- Popular colours are purple, yellow and lilac.
- Bee and pollinator-friendly.
Height: Up to 8cm (3in)
Width: Up to 3cm (1in)
Rockeries, hanging baskets, containers, woodland gardens
Full sun or partial shade
Hardy perennial, prefers colder winters so the warmer south-west of the UK may not be ideal
How Do Crocus Plants Arrive?
Crocus plants arrive as small bulbs, usually secured in vented plastic bags.
Do they require sunlight?
Crocus plants thrive in full sun but will perform well in partial shade.
They usually bloom and die back well before the leaves have grown on most trees, so you can grow them under tree branches and many other areas that are shaded in the summer.
How hardy are crocus? Will they come back every year?
Crocus bulbs are hardy to US zones 3-8 and can be grown in all parts of the UK, although they will perform best in colder parts of the country.
Like many spring bulbs, crocus will thrive when subjected to a cold winter. They are more likely to naturalise and spread when grown in colder parts of the UK.
Where are the best places to grow crocus?
Crocus can be grown in lawns but the grass can’t be cut during the flowering period and immediately after.
They can also be grown in the front of borders, in rockeries and along walkways.
Consider growing them in pots, containers, troughs and even push the bulbs into winter flowering hanging baskets.
What soil conditions are best for crocus?
As with most bulbs, free-draining soil is best to avoid bulb rot and diseases associated with wet, boggy ground conditions.
Try this recommended compost mixture for bulbs grown in pots and containers.
How and when should crocus bulbs be planted?
Crocus bulbs should be planted in the autumn between mid September and late November or within a month of receiving them.
Insert the bulbs to a depth of around 8cm (3in) and space a similar distance apart.
Crocus bulbs are often grown in drifts for a natural look.
Crocus plants cope with plant competition from other plants of a similar size so they can be grown in mixed borders and hanging baskets.
Are there any pests and diseases?
Rot and disease are most likely to originate from bulb rot if the plant is grown in waterlogged soil.
Squirrels may dig up the bulbs as they’re planted shallow. Consider some protection if you live near a wooded area frequented by squirrels.
When do crocus flower and how long for?
Crocus plants bloom in late winter and early spring.
The exact time will depend on the location within the UK and environmental conditions, but February and March are months where crocus plants can usually be seen.
What are the feed and water requirements?
Fertiliser is not required and water only in drought conditions.
Is crocus safe for pets, children and contact with the skin?
Spring Crocus is safer than Autumn Crocus but is still mildly toxic for pets as it may cause a stomach upset.
Explore more: Spring Crocus poisoning in dogs.
Spring Crocus may cause skin irritation.
Autumn Crocus is very toxic to pets, may cause stomach upset in humans and is a skin irritant.
Crocus Care After Flowering
The petals are delicate and will fade back quickly after the flowering period, but as with most bulbs, the foliage should be left in place so the plant can transfer energy to the bulb.
There is no need to lift the bulbs each year, but the plants may form clumps over time. They can be lifted and split in the spring after flowering, although this is entirely optional.
If you’re growing crocus bulbs in a lawn, hold back from owing until the foliage has faded and is discoloured.
Crocus Companion Plants
These five plants go well with crocus:
Don’t forget that crocus bulbs can be grown in layers with larger bulbs of other species planted underneath them.
This technique is often used in containers where horizontal space is limited and ensure the container produces plants throughout the growing season without the gardener needing to remove the bulbs or dig in new plants.
Discover more about bulb layering on Sarah Raven’s site.
Also, consider growing early and late flowering crocus plants to extend the flowering period in your border, lawn or pot.
Explore related content from us here at DIY Gardening:
More From Daniel Woodley:
This crocus guide was created by Daniel Woodley here at DIY Gardening and was last updated in January 2022.
Daniel is a keen amateur gardener who also manages a large residential landscape in addition to his own mid-size garden.
He also enjoys growing vegetables and fruits as well as his herbaceous border and container garden.
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