Growing crocus

Posted: Monday 3 March 2014
by Adam Pasco

As we move from February into March, signs of spring are popping up everywhere.

As we move from February into March, signs of spring are popping up everywhere. My dull, wet winter garden is being transformed by new growth, and as snowdrops and Oriental hellebores fade there's a succession of colourful companions to take over.

Forward planning and planting are now paying off as bold groups of crocus, planted last autumn, come into flower in my garden. Several were used to fill gaps between border plants, but much to my wife's dismay I also planted informal drifts of them in my lawn. It's not their flowers she objects to, but the rather messy appearance of the lawn for the following weeks.

Even though the garden suffered a battering from a hail storm last week, the crocus are still looking good. However, despite close inspection I can't see any sign of the snake's head fritillarias planted alongside. More patience is required, I think.

If you want crocus to establish in lawns and come back year after year, then they need to produce leaves and complete their growing cycle. They'll require at least 6-8 weeks of growth to replenish food reserves before foliage can be mown away. During this time I'll also give them a liquid feed, and water a few times if conditions turn dry.

The lawn will soon be growing and require cutting too, so I'll just mow around these areas of crocus until May, when they can finally be cut down. I know this leaves bare yellow patches for a while, but the grass soon recovers.

Every autumn I always treat myself to a selection of different crocus varieties to grow in pots. I just can't resist - they're such good value, and I always find something new to try. Crocus are quick and easy to plant in pots of peat-free, multi-purpose compost, and I've a range of different sizes and styles of terracotta pots to choose from. Yes, it has to be terracotta, as plastic pots are too light and would just blow over. I don't really plan a patio display, but just group pots together as they come into flower. Occasionally a perfect pot is brought indoors for a few days to be admired at close quarters.

It won't be long before my earliest narcissus are in full bloom, too. Their heads are already showing a hint of gold, so just a few more warm days should be enough to entice them out. The first of my camellias only has a single flower open at the very tip of its main shoot, waving at me in the wind to attract my attention. Yes, I've noticed it, and the fat buds full of promise for a brilliant display to come.

As I step outside into the spring garden, what warmer welcome could I possibly ask for?

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