One of the first signs of spring is when tiny crocus flowers pop up from the ground. With gorgeous colors of yellow and purple, this tiny flower brings a lot of joy with it. Find out when to plant crocus so that you can have a spring full of color.
When to plant crocus: Crocuses start from small bulbs and these need to be planted in the fall. Aim for six to eight weeks before the first hard frost. This is usually late September or October for most areas. As long as the ground can be worked and the temperatures are not freezing, you can plant your bulbs. Over winter, your crocus bulbs will stay dormant. Then, once the temperatures start to warm up, they will break through the soil and become some of the first signs of spring. Depending on how long your winter is, this can be either early March or not until mid-April. You can plant crocuses in a flower garden or you can plant them right in your grass for a festive front yard.
Planting Crocus in Different Climates
Crocuses need cool temperatures to bloom. Without a cold, dormant winter and a cool, wet spring, crocuses will not survive a tropical climate.
You might be able to try crocuses out in a dry climate but they will need a lot of help. You will have to create the same cool, wet spring and fall that these bulbs are used to.
A temperate climate is perfect for crocuses. The winters, while mild, are still cold enough and you may find varieties bloom earlier in this type of climate.
Crocuses do really well in a continental climate. However, because the winters are longer and colder, your crocuses will not bloom until late March or early April.
Crocuses will not grow in a polar climate as it is too cold.
Choosing Crocus Seeds
Crocus flowers actually start from bulbs and not seeds. These tiny bulbs can be planted individually or you can even plant some together for a bunch of excitement.
With a subtler lavender color, this variety is pretty and popular. This is one of the earliest varieties and as a bonus, it is resistant to squirrels.
While it isn’t the earliest bloomer, you will love the deep purple color of this variety. The petals open quite wide in sunlight and the golden yellow stamens are a gorgeous contrasting color.
Inside this variety is a bold yellow color which is surrounded by brilliantly white petals. It is a wonderful contrast that will bring an instant, sunny smile to your face.
If you want a lively variety of crocus, this is an excellent option. The petals have a vibrant white and purple stripe to them and they are larger in size than other varieties.
How to Plant Crocus Bulbs
Start in the fall
Crocuses can pop up in early spring but in some areas, you can even find them out in late winter. However, they needed to be planted well in advance of their flowering.
The fall is the best time to plant crocuses. They should be in the ground about six to eight weeks before the first hard frost in your area.
For most areas, September or October are ideal planting times. You want to be able to work the ground and allow the bulbs to establish themselves before the soil starts to freeze.
Ideal soil conditions
While crocus bulbs are used to the water, as they stay underground the whole year-long, they do have some soil conditions.
Crocuses need soil that is well-draining. This is especially important if you live in an area that has a lot of rainfall.
If you have soil that is heavily compacted and stays soggy, the crocus bulbs will quickly rot. Try to break up the soil before you plant and add sand or gravel to the dirt to improve drainage.
One beauty of crocuses is that they will grow just about anywhere. In fact, it’s kind of amazing that the tiny shoots can push their way through cold, compact soil in the spring.
As long as you don’t plant your crocus bulbs in full shade, they will come alive. Full or partial sun is ideal.
While the most obvious location for crocus flowers is in your garden, many people actually plant these bulbs on their lawn. As you won’t really be running around your grass in early spring, having some bright patches of color in your dormant, dreary grass, is a great way to brighten the world up.
Your crocus bulbs will be quite small so they are fairly easy to plant. Dig a hole that is about 3 inches deep and then places the bulbs inside, with the pointy part of the bulb sticking upwards.
For a more eye-catching arrangement, place multiple bulbs together. As there isn’t a lot of foliage, the plants won’t be overcrowded.
Even if it seems like too much, you can actually plant in groups of six to eight. Remember that they are small, so the more flowers together, the less chance they will be lost to their surroundings.
As most people will combine crocuses with other spring bulbs, such as tulips or daffodils, a bit of consideration is needed. Place the crocuses at the front of your garden so that they aren’t overshadowed by the taller spring flowers.
How to Water Crocus
Overall, you don’t have to worry too much about watering your crocuses. While you can water the bulbs after you plant them, they don’t need much.
After you plant your bulbs, it will befall, which is typically a wet season, so rainwater will take care of them. The same goes for spring when they start to bloom.
You can leave your crocuses in the ground and they will continue to grow year after year. Because they are usually planted in a garden where other plants are growing, when you water these plants, the bulbs under the soil will naturally absorb some of that water.
How to Grow Crocus
If you have the time, it’s a good idea to prepare your soil in the fall, just before you plant your bulbs. Adding compost or aged manure will help provide nutrients to the soil.
If this doesn’t happen, you can add fertilizer to the soil in late winter. This is a good idea if you have a long spring that is mild in temperatures.
You can leave your crocus bulbs in the ground throughout the summer and winter, so any extra nutrients will be absorbed by them for larger and healthier blooms the following growing season.
You may want to add a layer of mulch or dried leaves to your garden in the fall, in order to insulate what is growing. If you add mulch, however, it may be too dense so you will need to shift it around to allow the crocuses to emerge.
A layer of dried leaves should be ok as they will break down over winter. However, if you want to check on your crocuses in late winter, this is a good idea to see if the leaves are too thick.
Cover in case of extreme cold
Once the temperatures start to warm up, your crocuses will think it is time to grow. However, as most of us know, spring is a fickle season and it can turn from warm to freezing pretty quickly.
If you live in an area with a temperamental spring, you may want to cover your new crocus sprouts. A plastic milk jug can be easily placed over the top of the crocuses and insulate them against freezing temperatures.
Leave the foliage
In order for the crocus bulbs to store enough energy for the next season, it’s important to leave the foliage so it can absorb as many nutrients as possible. Even if your flowers are starting to die, leave your crocuses alone for a few more weeks.
If you have crocuses growing through your grass, also leave them be. Wait until mid-spring before you first mow your grass so that you don’t disturb the crocus foliage.
In the winter, animals are always looking for new food sources and buried crocus bulbs can be tempting. Squirrels and mice may sniff around and start to dig through your garden for this hidden snack.
If you see evidence of critters in your garden, you can use wire cages that can be buried around the bulbs. This will deter unwanted pests.
How long do crocuses take to grow?
Crocus bulbs need to be planted in the fall, usually in late September or early October. Then, they will remain dormant over the winter before emerging in the spring.
Usually, you will have crocus blossoms in March.
Crocuses are a great way to add some color to early spring. While they are small in size, their vibrant colors go a long way in staving off the dreariness of winter.