Many people know about spring crocus flowers but did you know there are fall flowering crocus that can add some life to your garden as you transition to autumn! The flowers can bloom from September – November and all fall under the category autumn crocus. They come in pinks, purples, and white and will brighten any garden. The great thing about these flowers is once you plant them there is very little work to do and they will come back next year. Fall crocuses are also great for pollinators. They provide nectar, late in the season for bees.
Here are three different types you can try:
Colchicum: Like the Autumn Crocus they are grown from corms not bulbs. The corms from this plant are larger than the crocus. The flowers are larger than the Autumn Crocus and you can get 5 – 10 stalks with each bearing a flower. You will get foliage on this plant starting in the spring. When the plant blooms in the fall it does not have any foliage. The leaves are large and floppy. These plants like cooler weather than the autumn crocus. Colchicums are poisonous if ingested. They are hardy for zones 4 – 10.
Autumn Crocus: Autumn Crocuses have smaller, more delicate flowers and their corms do not produce as many flowers as the Colchicum plant. Their foliage is narrower and more grass-like compared to Colchicum. The foliage can appear in either spring or fall. This type of crocus also likes things a little warmer than Colchicum. Autumn Crocuses are poisonous too. It is hardy for zones 6 – 10.
Saffron Crocus: Saffron Crocus also goes by the name crocus sativus and deserves some special attention. This crocus produces beautiful purple blooms and the prized treasure of edible saffron stigmas. It is considered valuable because of the saffron which is an expensive spice. Each flower will produce three saffron stigmas. According to The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spice, it will take 50,000 – 75,000 crocus plants to produce one pound of saffron. It is hardy for zones 6 – 10.
Planting Autumn Crocuses
These plants are available starting in August and are meant to be planted as soon as you receive them. Find a full sun location for planting. They grow best in well-drained soil. Do not plant them in heavy clay soils or soils that drain poorly. This could cause the bulbs to rot. They can also be planted in containers. Plant them 2-3 inches deep and 3 inches apart. Some of the Colchicum varieties have larger corms and need to be planted deeper and 6 – 10 inches apart.
After planting them, water the corms. Do not water them when they are flowering. After flowering, keep the soil moist until the ground freezes. In the spring, keep the soil moist until they go dormant in the summer.
Flowers will bloom in 6 – 10 weeks depending on the variety you have selected. The blooms last for several weeks.
End Of Season Care
Aft the flowers have bloom let them fade naturally. Let the foliage in the fall and spring turn yellow and die naturally. This foliage provides the energy for the bulb and rejuvenates them.
New corms are formed on top of the old ones which cause the clumps to grow in size. Since these plants are perennials they can be divided every 2 – 3 years after the foliage fades. All of these crocuses will profit from being regularly divided.
Why not try adding some of these crocus flowers to your fall garden.