The crocus, or saffron, is a genus of tuberous herbaceous plants that belongs to the Iris family. In the wild, this plant is found in Southern, Central and Northern Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Central Asia and Asia Minor. Crocuses prefer to grow in woods, prairies and meadows. There are descriptions of 80 species of this plant, as well as 300 varieties. The name "crocus" comes from the Greek word for "fiber, thread.
" Saffron is derived from an Arabic word that means yellow, because this is the color of the stigmas of the flowers. Mention of this plant has been found in Egyptian papyrus, written about crocus by physicians and philosophers alike. Nowadays, this plant is also very popular with gardeners, because it is among the most beautiful first flowers (early spring flowers). But few people know that there are many kinds of such plants that bloom in the fall.
Properties of crocus
The crocus is a low-growing plant, usually not more than 10 centimeters high.
Bulbs reach 30 mm in cross-section and are rounded or flattened. The surface of the bulbs is covered with scales, and they also have a bunch of calloused roots. No shoots will grow. During flowering or after it, narrow, linear-shaped, bundled, scaly leaves grow. Single glass-shaped flowers reach 20-50 mm in cross-section.
Flowers may be cream, mauve, yellow, white, blue, purple or orange. They open on a leafless, short peduncle surrounded by filmy scales. There are some varieties with bicolor or spotty flowers. Mass flowering lasts 15 to 20 days. All the species and varieties of this plant are divided into 15 groups.
Crocus care. Secrets of abundant flowering
Putting crocuses in the open ground
What time to plant
Spring-flowering crocus species should be planted in the open ground in the fall. Those species that bloom in the fall should be planted in the summer. The site for planting should be chosen well lit, but such flowers grow quite well in a shady place or in the shade. Suitable soil for crocuses should be dry, light, loose and saturated with nutrients.
During the preparation of the site for planting, it is recommended to add coarse river sand or small gravel to the soil for drainage. As organic matter in the soil under the digging should be made decomposed manure, compost or lime with peat, the fact is that this primrose grows poorly on acidic soil. If the soil is clayey, this can be corrected by adding wood ash. There are some species that can not grow on wet soil, so for them, experts advise making high beds, where the drainage layer is made of gravel or gravel. The planting material should be inspected, it should not be injured or have imperfections.
If bulbs are planted in the open soil in September, you will see the flowering already in the spring time. The bulbs are planted in loose soil and should be planted to a depth that is a couple of times their size. If planting is carried out in heavy soil, it will be necessary to bury the bulb only one of its size. Between the bulbs on average should be kept at a distance of 7-10 centimeters. Planted flowers need abundant watering.
Excessively close planting crocuses is not necessary, because in the same place it is recommended to grow them for 3-5 years, during these years, the bulbs have a colony of offspring, and the site itself becomes a solid carpet of flowers. After 5 years, the planting of such flowers is made.
Two ways of planting crocuses in the soil. And it will be beautiful in the spring
Planting for bunting
Most florists like to grow garden flowers in the wintertime in room conditions. The easiest way to grow in this way are bulbs, which include crocuses.
Experienced flower growers are advised to choose Dutch large-flowered varieties for bunting. Choose 5-10 bulbs, which should have approximately the same size. They are planted in 1 pot, which should not be very deep, but wide enough, as a result of such planting you will grow a whole bouquet of beautiful flowers. To fill the flower pots, use loose, neutral soil, which is well permeable to water and air.
Flowered bulbs do not need to be thrown away.
They are provided with regular watering and feeding with a weak solution of complex mineral fertilizers for indoor plants. After the leaves begin to change their color to yellow, make a gradual reduction in watering until the complete cessation. When the leaves are completely withered, the bulbs should be removed from the container. When the rest of the substrate is removed from them, they should be wrapped in napkins and placed in a cardboard box. The planting material is put away in a dark, dry place where it will be stored until planted in open soil in the fall.
Crocus care in the open ground
Care for crocuses is very easy. They only need watering if there has been little or no snow during the winter and rain in the spring. The height of these flowers depends on how much moisture they get. But it should be remembered that this flower culture is resistant to drought. The surface of the soil on the plot should be systematically loosened, while pulling out all the weeds.
In the period of intensive growth, the crocus should be fed, and it should be remembered that fresh organic matter should not be introduced into the soil. To the feeding of mineral fertilizers such plants respond positively, and they especially need potassium and phosphorus. With nitrogen-containing fertilizers must be careful, because because of the large amount of nitrogen in the soil in rainy weather crocuses can develop fungal disease. The first time during the season, flowers are fed at the very beginning of the spring period in the snow, using a complex mineral fertilizer (30-40 grams per 1 square meter). During the flowering period, the crocus is fed a second time with the same fertilizer, but it should contain less nitrogen.
When the leaves on crocuses that flower in the spring become yellow, it will not be necessary to take care of them until the autumn, of course if it is not time to remove the bulbs from the soil. Varieties that flower in the fall will decorate your garden with their spectacular flowers in September.
It is not necessary to dig up the bulbs every year for the winter. However, experts recommend doing it once every 3 or 4 years in the middle of the summer when these plants are dormant. The fact is that during this time there is a significant increase in the size of the mother bulb, as it acquires a large number of daughter bulbs.
Depending on the variety and species of crocus, 1-10 bulbs are formed every year. The bulbs become very crowded, which manifests itself in a reduction in flower size.
What is the best time to dig out the bulbs? As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that bulbs be planted at regular intervals of once every 3-5 years. If you need planting material, this procedure can also be done more often. Depending on the variety and species, spring flowering crocuses can be dug from July to September and autumn flowering crocuses from June to August.
After the bulbs have been dug dry, they should be cleaned of defective scales and dead roots. Remove any diseased bulbs and treat any mechanical damage with wood ash or crushed charcoal. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place where they will remain until it is time to plant them in the open soil.
How to propagate these flowers with baby or daughter bulbs, which are separated from the parent bulb during transplanting, is described in detail above. The detached bulbs are planted in the open soil in the same way as the primary planting.
After the detached daughter bulb has been planted in open soil, it will flower for the first time after 3 or 4 years, depending on the cultivar and species. But since seeded crocuses do not bloom for the first time until 4-5 years later, this method of propagation is not very popular among gardeners. Crocuses that bloom in the fall and grow in mid-latitudes do not have time for seeds to properly mature before winter arrives.
How to propagate crocuses with seeds
Pests and diseases of crocuses
If the gardener observes all the rules of cultivation, these plants will very rarely become ill or be affected by various pests. The greatest danger to crocus bulbs are field mice, which use them as food.
Therefore, it is not recommended to leave the bulbs extracted from the soil in the street unattended. Experienced gardeners advise putting them in egg cartons where they can fit freely in the cells.
In some cases, upon inspection, you can see holes on the bulbs that are made by the larva of the lizard beetle (wireworm). This pest is very hard to the touch and yellow in color. If there are too many wireworms, experienced growers advise putting hay or straw bunches in late April or early May in your garden.
These bundles should be moistened and covered with planks. When the pests get into the traps, they are pulled out and destroyed. If there is a need to do so, the procedure is repeated. Also crocuses like to eat and slugs. They must be picked up by hand and then destroyed.
You should also remember that this plant reproduces itself well, so crocuses can grow in the most inappropriate places, and then the cultivated plant turns into an annoying weed.
In some cases you can see a plant in the bed whose flowers have a flattened shape and gray speckles on the surface of the petals. At the same time, such flowers do not open completely. These are symptoms of a viral disease most commonly carried by thrips, mice and aphids. Affected specimens should be removed from the area as soon as possible and burned to stop the spread of the infection.
The area where the diseased flowers have been should be drenched with a very strong solution of potassium permanganate which must be hot.
If you take care of this crop incorrectly or do not follow the agricultural rules, the plant can very easily fall ill with fungal diseases such as penicillosis, grey rot, sclerotial rot and fusarium. If the weather is warm and humid, the likelihood of crocuses getting these diseases increases greatly. To prevent this, you must carefully inspect the bulbs you buy, and if there are wounds on them when removing the bulbs from the ground, they must be covered with wood ash and then dried at room temperature. Before planting crocuses in the open ground, the planting material should be dressed with a fungicide solution.
Crocuses after flowering
Often inexperienced gardeners have the question of what to do with blossomed crocuses? The flower stalks with the wilted flowers should be cut off, but the leaves should be left behind - they will still grace the garden for many weeks. Over time, the leaves will turn yellow and wilt.
After the leaves have completely dried naturally, the bulbs of spring-flowering species should be removed from the soil. They are dried and stored until September, then planted again on the plot. As mentioned above, it is not necessary to carry out this procedure every year.
If the flowers were planted in the open soil less than three years ago, and between bushes is still visible surface of the soil, then the planting can not be carried out. In this case, it is recommended to cover the surface of the plot with a thick layer of mulch (fallen dry leaves or peat) for the winter.
When to dig out the bulbs
In spring flowering crocuses, the beginning of the annual cycle is in the last weeks of winter or first weeks of spring when their leaves are growing. Around mid-June, they begin their resting period. In the autumn these flowers wake up again; they begin to actively accumulate nutrients and build up the root system.
Also during this period the end of the formation of the point of renewal is noted. For this reason, when the plant is dormant, its foliage should be intact. Spring-flowering bulbs should be dug up or planted during the dormant period, more specifically from the second half of June to the last weeks of summer.
The beginning of the cycle of crocus flowering in the autumn is usually in August. First the plant blooms and then the foliage grows, at the same time the formation of a replacement corm is observed.
The dormancy period of these flowers begins 4 weeks earlier than that of species that flower in spring. If there is a need, remove crocuses from the soil from the first days of June to the second half of August.
What to do with crocuses after flowering ? crocuses care and cultivation
How to store bulbs
The dug up bulbs are placed in a shaded place to dry out. Then they are removed from the soil, dead scales and roots. Then they are placed in a box or crate, stacking in one layer.
Very small bulbs can be placed in candy boxes. The room where the bulbs will be stored until August, the air temperature should be at least 22 degrees, otherwise the process of laying the flower buds will be broken. At the beginning of August, the room temperature should be reduced to 20 degrees, and after 7 days to 15 degrees. However, these ideal storage conditions for crocus planting material can sometimes be created only in specialized farms. Amateur gardeners, on the other hand, choose a dry, dark room that is well ventilated to store the bulbs, with room temperature.
Crocus species and varieties with photos and names
There are many different crocus varieties, which are divided by classification into 15 groups. The first group includes those varieties that bloom in the fall, while the remaining 14 groups consist only of varieties and species that are spring-flowering. Thanks to the crocus species, many hybrids and varieties have been born, and most of them have been bred by breeders from the Netherlands. The commercial varieties that are most popular are highlighted in the group of Dutch hybrids. Also quite popular with gardeners is a group of commercial varieties called Chrysanthus - hybrids between crocus golden, bicolor and its hybrids.
Below will be a brief description of the crocus groups as well as some of its varieties.
Spring-flowering crocus species
Spring crocus (Crocus vernus)
This plant is about 17 centimeters tall. The surface of the flattened corm is covered with reticulate scales. The linear, narrow leaflets are dark green, with a longitudinal band of silvery-white color on their surface. Funnel-shaped, bell-shaped flowers with a long tube are white or mauve.
One or two flowers develop from a single bulb. Flowering occurs in spring and lasts about 20 days. Cultivated since 1561
From Iran to Italy and in the Crimea and the Caucasus. This plant has various natural forms: with bluish-lilac flowers, with brown spots on the outer surface of the petals; with white flowers; with white flowers with brown-purple stripes; with brown-purple flowers outside and white flowers inside. The mouth of the flowers is colored yellow or white.
Crocus goldenis (Crocus chrysanthus)
In nature, this species is found on the rocky slopes of Asia Minor and the Balkans. The height of such a plant does not exceed 20 centimeters. The bulb has a flattened globular shape. The leaf plates are very narrow. The yellow-golden flowers have bending perianths, the outer surface of which is glossy.
There are forms that have tan or brown-colored stripes on the outer surface of the petals. Stolons are pale red and anthers are orange. Flowering occurs in April and lasts 20 days. It has been cultivated since 1841. The following varieties are most popular:
- Blue Bonnet.
The flowers are about 30 mm long, the pharynx yellow, and the perianths pale blue.
- Nannette. There are purple stripes on the outer surface of the cream-yellow flowers.
- I. G.
Bauels. The very large flowers have a brownish-gray outer surface and a deep yellow inner surface.
Crocus tomasini (Crocus tommasinianus)
In nature, this species is found in the former Yugoslavia and in Hungary, with these flowers preferring to grow on hillsides and in deciduous forests. The perianth leaves are lilac-pink and may have a white border around the edge. The open flowers have a star-shaped and white-colored pharynx.
The flowers have a white colored tube. Up to 3 flowers can form from a single bulb, which reach a height of about 60 mm. Flowering is observed in April for 20 days. Cultivated since 1847, this species is among the most popular. The most common varieties are:
- Lylek Beauty.
The flowers are very wide open, almost flat, reaching about 30 mm across. The anthers are yellow, narrow lobes are oval-extended, their outer surface is lilac and the inner is of a paler color.
- Whitewell Pearl. The broadly opened large flowers are almost flat in shape, they are colored purple-purple, and reach 40 mm across. Their lobes are narrow and elongated.
The white tube reaches 35 mm in length.
The following types of crocuses are also cultivated by gardeners to bloom in spring: narrow-leaved, reticulate, Crimean, Korolkova, Imperate, Zibera, yellow, Geufel, Anchor, Alataev, Adam, Corsican, Dalma, Etruscan, Fleischer, Mala and the smallest.
Crocuses in the garden. Early varieties. Website sadovymir.
Crocuses that bloom in the fall
Crocus beautiful (Crocus speciosus)
This species prefers to grow on forest edges in the mountain regions of the Balkans, Crimea and Asia Minor. The leaf laminae are about 0.3 m long. The violet-lilac flowers grow to 70 mm across and have purple longitudinal veins on the surface; they begin to bloom during the first weeks of fall. It has been cultivated since 1800.
There are garden forms whose flowers are colored white, lilac, dark blue, blue and pale purple. The following varieties are most popular:
- Albus. The flowers are white and the tube has a cream coloration.
- Artabir. The coloration of the flowers is sky-blue.
There are dark veins on the surface of the bracts.
- Oxinan. The flowers are colored blue-purple. They have a dark broad perianth as well as retracted sharp leaves.
Crocus pulchellus (Crocus pulchellus)
This species is very showy.
There are dark stripes on the surface of the pale purple flowers. The flowers reach 60-80 mm across and may be 70-100 mm high. On a single bush grows from 5 to 10 flowers, and they open in September or October. It is tolerant of mild frosts.
This species occurs naturally in Romania, the Carpathians and the Balkans.
The species was named after the historical region of Banat, which is in Romania. The linear leaflets are about 15 centimeters long and painted a gray-silver color. The dainty, pale lilac-colored flowers have yellow anthers. The flowers rise 12-14 centimeters above the ground. The outer perianth leaves are about 45 mm long, while the inner ones are narrower and a couple of times shorter.
In cultivation since 1629
Horticulturists also cultivate crocuses that bloom in the fall such as: beautiful, Pallas, hill, Charoyan, Gulimi, holly, Carduchora, medium, Cartwright, Kochi, lattice, medium, yellow-white, and late.
Big-flowered crocuses, or Dutch hybrids
These plants are prolific and unpretentious. They bloom in the spring and their flowers are on average a couple of times larger than those of the original species. The first Dutch hybrids were introduced in 1897. Nowadays there are about 50 such hybrids, and they are divided into groups according to the color of flowers:
- The first group includes plants with snow-white flowers, and also with white flowers, which have spots of a different color in the base of each lobe of bract.
- Group two contains cultivars with purple, violet or lilac flowers.
- Group three contains cultivars with striped or reticulate flowers and with spots at the base of the lobes.
Flowering of such crocuses begins in May and lasts 10-17 days.
The varieties recommended for cultivation in middle latitudes:
- Albion. The glass-shaped flowers are white in color and about 40 mm in diameter.
The lobes are rounded, the tube is about 50 mm long, and there is a sparse dash of purple coloration on its surface.
- Vangard. The open cup-shaped lilac-blue flowers reach 40 mm across. The lobes are oval and elongate, with small spots of darker coloration at the base. The tube is about 45 mm long and the coloration is lilac-blue.
- Jubilee. The blue, cup-shaped flowers have a faintly visible purple-purple cast. There is a clearly visible pale purple spot at the base of the lobes, and a narrow border of lighter color runs along the edge. The tube is about 55 mm long and the coloration is pale purple.
- Sniper Banner.
The cup-shaped flowers are up to 40 mm in diameter. The coloration of the oval lobes is reticulate: the outer surface is a pale lilac-gray coloration, while the inner surface has a dark lilac reticulation. The lobes of the external circle have darker coloration than those of the internal one. At the base of the lobes there is a small distinct dark lilac spot. The dark lilac tube is about 40 mm long.
- Catlin Parlow. The white cup-shaped flowers reach 40 mm across. There are lilac short strokes at the base of the inner lobes. The length of the white tube is about 50 mm.
These hybrids, which bloom in the springtime, were obtained with the crocus goldenis, the natural form of crocus bicolor and their hybrids.
The flowers in this group are smaller than those of the "Dutchmen", but it includes many varieties with light blue and yellow flowers. Популярные сорта:
- Джипси Герл. The widely opened cup-shaped flowers reach 35 mm across. Their outer surface is creamy yellow and the inner is yellowish, with the throat dark yellow. There are small brownish spots on the inside of the lobes.
The cream tube is about 30 mm long, and the surface has strokes of dusty-purple coloration.
- Marietta. Flowers wide open, almost flat, reaching 35 mm across. The dark cream-colored narrow lobes are oval in shape, the throat yellow. At the base of the lobes of the outer circle, which are covered with thick bands of dark lilac coloration, there is a brown-green spot on the outside.
The light green-gray tube is about 30 mm long.
- Lady Keeler. Practically flat cup-shaped flowers reach 30 mm across. The elongated, oval-shaped lobes are white on the inside. The lobes of the inner circle are white on the outside, while those of the outer circle have a dark purple coloration and a white border, and there is a small dark blue spot at the base.
The coloring of the bud is purple. The dark purple-purple tube is about 30 mm long.
- Saturnus. The flat, widely opened flowers are about 35 mm in diameter. The tops of the lobes of the outer circle are slightly elongated.
They are colored creamy yellow, with the throat deep yellow. At the base, there is a spot of brown-green coloration on the outside. The lobes of the outer circle are completely striated with dense strokes of lilac coloration. The length of the green-gray tube is about 25 mm.
New varieties of chrysanthus on sale are: Ay Catcher, Miss Wayne, Parkinson's, Skyline, Zwanenburg Bronze, etc.
Crocuses in fall. Garden World website