As well as being a well-known and popular garden plant whose early flowers herald the spring, the crocus can also be brought into flower indoors to brighten the dreary months of late winter.

The many varieties of Crocus are descended from plants native to southern Russia, to countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and to Iran.

The Crocus produces a mass of large colourful flowers, ranging from deep purple and lilac through pale and amethyst blues to white and brilliant buttercup-yellow. Some flowers are striped blue and white, and others yellow and purple. These varieties look particularly effective planted in a white ceramic or clay container.

Corms can be forced for only one season, but after they have flowered you can plant them outside. Do this as soon as possible once flowering has finished and the ground is frost-free.

The slender, grass-like leaves often have a pale central stripe. They will reach a height of 10-15cm (4-5in). The flowers grow to about 5cm (2in) in length.Crocus 2

Display ideas

Crocus looks best planted in a mass of one variety.

Growing from corms

Plant Crocus corms in the autumn, during October or November.

1. Soak bulb fibre and squeeze out excess water.

2. Prepare your pot or crocus bowl by putting a layer of charcoal in the bottom and adding bulb fibre.

3. Put the corms in and cover with more fibre so they lie 5-8cm (2-3in) below the surface.

4. Either place in a dark but well-aired cupboard or wrap in black polythene and bury the pot in the garden, covering with a layer of sand or ash. Plants in a cupboard should be kept at a maximum of 4°C (40°F).

5. Leave the pot for about 8 weeks, by which time shoots will have begun to grow out of the corms.

6. Bring the Crocuses in from the garden or remove from the cupboard, but keep the temperature at 4°C (40°F). Give some light, but not direct sun. If it is too warm, the shoots will grow too fast, without enough root support.

7. After 6 weeks bring the plants into the room where you want them to flower. Water more frequently, but do not overwater. When buds appear, move pots into a bright window.

8. Flowers will last 1-2 weeks if you keep your Crocuses cool — 15°C (60°F) is ideal.

Plant Problems

The plant fails to produce flowers if forced at too high a temperature. Prevention: Keep the pot at a temperature no higher than 4°C (40°F) until the plants have grown plenty of roots.

The leaves turn yellow at the tips if the plant is overwatered.

Treatment: Allow the compost to dry out a little before watering again. Water less often in the future.


Corms grown indoors for early flowering need extra care. It is important to keep the corms cool, and not to overwater them if they are to flower successfully.

  • Potting: Pot in commercial bulb fibre. You will get a better display if you almost fill the pot with corms.
  • Water moderately, never allowing the bulb fibre to dry out. When leaves and flowers appear, water only from the bottom. If the container has no drainage holes, tip it to one side to allow excess water to drain away.
  • Feeding: Crocuses do not need feeding. They make their own food after flowering and store it for future use.


  • Light: Corms should be placed in a dark cupboard or plunged in soil outdoors for several weeks until shoots are growing strongly. Shade for a few days and then bring into bright light.
  • Temperature: Keep in a cool position atoll times to encourage flowering and to maintain flowers once they appear.

Crocuses are among the first flowers of spring and often appear through the snow. Indoors, you can have spring flowers even earlier by forcing potted corms into flower.

When to buy

  • Crocus corms are available in the autumn. Buy from reliable garden centres or nurseries.
  • Buy only top-quality corms that have a good shape, are firm and have not dried out. Reject any that appear broken or damaged.
  • You can force corms successfully only once, but if you put them in the garden after they have flowered they will bloom and multiply for years.

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