Growing Crocus: How To Plant and Care For Crocus Flowers


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If you want to add some color to your spring garden growing crocus is a great idea! With many colors available learning how to grow crocus flowers will help to attract pollinators to your garden and give you many early blooms.

Crocus flowers have always been one of my favorites.

Probably because they are one of the first flowers to come up in the early spring.

Often these blooms are pushing up while there is snow on the ground, giving the feeling that they are fighting back at winter.

How To Grow Beautiful Crocus text overlaid on a photo of purple crocuses flowering.

Crocus bulbs (called corms) come in many different types from snow crocuses that bloom very early to large Dutch crocuses with much larger flowers. Most varieties are hardy from zones 3 to 8.

They come in a wide variety of colors including pink, purples, blues, reds, and yellows.

Honey bee on a crocus flower in the early spring.
Honey bee on a crocus flower in the early spring.

Since they bloom so early they are perfect to plant in your garden to attract bees and butterflies in the early spring when food is still hard for them to find.

Planting

Crocus flowers blooming through the snow in early spring.
Crocus flowers blooming through the snow in early spring.

When To Plant Crocus Bulbs

Like all spring-blooming bulbs, they are planted in the fall. The best time is 6 to 8 weeks before you expect your area to have a hard frost and while the soil temperature is still a warm 60F (16C).

In colder northern zones of 5 or, lower September to mid-October are good times to plant spring bulbs. If you are further south October to November is the ideal planting time.

Where To Plant

Before taking the time to plant crocus bulbs make sure to choose an area that has well-draining soil. Like most bulbs, if planted in a place that stays soggy, they will rot.

Ideally, pick a place that is sunny although crocus will also grow well in part shade under trees.

How To Plant Crocus Bulbs

Crocus bulbs are really easy to plant. They should be placed 3-4 inches (7.62-10.16 cm) deep and spaced 2 to 3 inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) apart.

Just make sure that the pointed side of the bulb faces up, as that’s the part that the stem will grow from. Placing the bulbs right side up makes it so much easier on the flower to grow and reach the surface.

Since the flowers of spring crocus are fairly small it’s best to plant them in clusters rather than long single rows.

Planting crocuses under trees and through your lawn can become a beautiful flower show in the early spring.

If you are planting a small number of bulbs in your flower bed a hand bulb planter or dibber works very well. But for larger amounts, I love using a bulb augur that attaches to our drill.

It makes planting so much easier!

Growing Crocuses

Yellow crocus blooming.
Yellow crocus blooming.

Fertilization

Crocus are pretty hardy plants and really don’t need much attention or fertilizer to produce beautiful blooms.

But if you have the time top dressing the flower beds with an inch of compost in the fall helps to provide nutrients and boost plant health.

Bonemeal is also a great fertilizer for bulbs and can be applied in the fall or early spring.

Watering

After planting in the fall watering the area is a good idea if you are having an unusually dry fall. But take care to not overwater and make the soil soggy.

Our area is always rainy in the fall so this is the one time of year I never have to worry about watering our gardens.

Mulching

Applying mulch in the fall will help protect the flowers from winters hard freezes.

My favorite mulch to use in flower beds is simply shredded fall leaves. They are easy to find at that time of year and free!

Other mulches that work well for crocus are small wood chips and straw.

When the weather starts to warm in the early spring remember to gently remove the much from where you’ve planted the crocus. This makes it easier for the small flowers to come up.

How Long Do Crocus Blooms Last?

Crocus blooms last 2-3 weeks depending on the variety you planted and their growing conditions.

To Mow Or Not To Mow

Purple and white crocus flowers growing in a lawn.
Purple and white crocus flowers growing in a lawn.

Crocuses are often planted in the lawn and grow to make a beautiful carpet of color over your lawn in the spring. They grow and bloom before your grass starts growing in the early spring.

But, it doesn’t take long for the grass to catch up to them.

This can cause a bit of a problem if you like to keep your grass mowed short.

But for the best health of the plants it’s best to not mow down the crocus plants until the leaves have naturally died back.

They need their leaves to produce food for the roots and bulb to be strong enough to live and grow more flowers the following year.

Diseases & Pests

The most common problem when growing crocus is that squirrels, mice, and voles like to eat the corms.

If you have a problem with this then try laying down chicken wire over the flower bed to keep them from digging through.

Another option is making wire cages that can be set on top of the garden and easily removed later.

The corms easily succumb to mold and rot if they have been kept too wet in storage. Make sure that you are checking the bulbs before you plant them and discard any showing signs of rot.

Active Time
30 minutes

Total Time
30 minutes

Difficulty
Easy

Instructions

Planting

  1. Select a planting area with rich and well-draining soil that is in full sun to part sun.
  2. Plant the crocus bulbs 6-8 weeks before your last frost date in the fall. Plant them 3-4 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart making sure the pointed side of the bulb faces up.
  3. If the ground is dry when you’re planting make sure to water it well, but don’t let it stay soggy or the bulbs could rot.

Care

  1. Crocus are light feeders but can still benefit by top dressing the garden with an inch of good compost in the fall.
  2. Apply 3-5 inches of mulch in the fall to protect the bulbs from the cold if you live where your winters are harsh. Remember to carefully rake back the mulch in the spring before the flowers start to come up.
  3. If you are growing crocus in your lawn wait until after the leaves have died back to mow your grass. The flowers need the energy provided by there leaves to feed the bulb for next years flowers.

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