CROCUS

Everyone can recognise a Crocus, and for many gardeners the choice is a simple one – a purple or yellow variety, or a mixture of both, designed to flower after the Snowdrops and before the Tulips. The full Crocus story is much more extensive – there are varieties to bloom in February with the Snowdrops and others to flower in the autumn with the Dahlias. The wineglass-shaped flowers appear in many colours – bronze, white, pale blue, striped, bi-coloured and blotched as well as the all-too-familiar purple and yellow. The leaves are narrow and continue to grow after the flowers have faded – there is nothing for you to do but to apply a sprinkling of Growmore around the clumps in autumn.

VARIETIES: There are 3 basic groups. The Winter-flowering species are small, 3 or 4 in. high, and are well-suited to the rockery. Included in this group are the beautiful C.imperati (striped white and purple), C. susianus (the Cloth of Gold Crocus with bronze and golden petals) and C. chrysanthus plus its host of hybrids. In the catalogues you will find ‘E. A. Bowles’ (deep yellow), ‘Snow Bunting’ (white), ‘Ladykiller’ (purple and white) and many others. The Spring-flowering Dutch Hybrids are the most popular, blooming in March and April with large flowers growing 5 in. high. In the catalogues they are sometimes described as Large-flowered Crocuses – pick from ‘Enchantress’ (blue), ‘Remembrance’ (purple), ‘Golden Mammoth’ (yellow), ‘Joan of Arc’ (white), ‘Little Dorrit’ (lilac), ‘Pickwick’ (striped) and the scores of others which are available. The Autumn-flowering species, blooming between August and October, offer a much more restricted choice. C. speciosus and its hybrids are the most popular, producing attractive flowers in white, lilac or purple.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained soil – thrives in sun or light shade.

PLANT DETAILS: Planting time September-October (July for Autumn-flowering Species). Planting depth 3 in.

Spacing: 4 in. Height 3-5 in.

Flowering period: February-April (August-October for Autumn-flowering Species).

PROPAGATION: Divide overcrowded clumps in autumn.

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