COLCHICUM or MEADOW SAFFRON

P. These plants should be grown more widely by amateurs as they flourish on most soils, even those of low fertility. The crocus-like flowers appear in September and October, but the colchicum is in no way related to the crocus botanically, belonging to the Liliaceae family (crocuses are part of the Iridaceae family). The rather coarse foliage appears in spring. Colchicums should be planted 2 in. deep in July or August and left undisturbed until the clumps show signs of deteriorating. They may then be lifted in July, split up and replanted immediately. The corms are poisonous to cattle and must accordingly never be planted in grassland used for grazing. A sunny position is best, though Colchicum autumnale (often called the autumn crocus) tolerates slight shade. This species has rosy-mauve flowers and can be naturalised in short grass.

C. speciosum album is relatively expensive but the pure white flowers are of incomparable beauty.

C. luteum is yellow and flowers in mid-winter. It is best in a cool greenhouse as outdoors slugs are a constant threat.

The hybrid colchicums raised in Holland bear extra large flowers and are well worth a trial. Autumn Queen is deep violet with white blotches and early flowering. Violet Queen, deep rosy-lilac, and Waterlily, lilac-mauve with double blooms, are equally fine.

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