GARDEN KNOW HOW

Thinking Ahead

Species tulips at Sensible Gardening and Living

As difficult as it sometimes seems, fall is planting time for early spring flowers. After gardening the whole season it can be hard to get motivated to plant something we will not see for many long months, however come spring you will be more than glad you did.

Crocus flowers are one of the earliest spring flowers to emerge from the cold earth. Many colors and designs to choose from solid to stripes. There are two main basic crocus bulb types, wild species and common Dutch hybrids. Common crocuses are generally larger than the species types and often produce up to 6 flowers per bulb and bloom slightly later. Wild species crocus are smaller with up to 20 blooms from a single bulb and often have unusual color blends.

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White Crocus / Sensible Gardening and Living

Crocuses can be planted almost anywhere. They are excellent in rock gardens tucked in here and there. Naturalized in lawns is very effective and by the time you start mowing your grass the blooms will have faded and the fine leaves will have disappeared into the ground unseen. Plant a bright row edging the walkway or shrub border or plant in groups throughout your perennial borders. Combine them with other flowers that bloom in spring such as Iris reticulata and Snowdrops.

When buying your bulbs in early fall only pick out firm, plump bulbs. Avoid those that feel soft or are already showing signs of green growth. You can plant your crocus right up until frost but a bit earlier is better to give them a chance to adjust before the ground freezes. Place your bulbs in either a full sun or part shaded site. They require only average soil but it must be well drained. If your soil is soggy your bulbs will rot. Try to plant them in large groups for better color power. Crocus grow in zones 3 through 8 and are disease resistant. Small at only 3-5 inches tall but still a pleasure to see come spring. Be sure to let the foliage of your crocuses die back naturally after blooming so the bulbs will be fed and come back to entertain you again next year.

The easiest way to plant such small bulbs is to dig a hole 5 inches deep and wide enough to hold a sizable amount of bulbs. Add a bit of compost and bone meal to your hole with about 2 inches of soil. Place your bulbs pointed ends up and about 2 inches apart. Cover the bulbs with the rest of the soil and gently tamp down with your hands, not your feet. Give them a good drink then forget about them until spring. Crocus bulbs are one of the easiest spring bulbs to plant and always a very bright and cheerie  flower for spring.