Cheery crocuses are often the first flowers to pop up in spring.
As well as the more familiar spring flowering crocuses, you can also grow autumn-flowering crocuses such as Crocus speciosus and visually similar species like Colchicum autumnale. While not closely related to the Crocus genus, colchicums are equally easy to grow and look lovely naturalised in grass, providing a similar effect to true crocuses.
Generally, crocuses enjoy growing in a sunny, open position in well-drained soil. The small corms are particularly easy to plant, too. If happy, crocuses will gradually spread to form colonies that provide marvellous bursts of colour when they flower.
Try some of these pretty crocuses for spring and autumn colour.
‘Advance’ is an unusual cultivar of Crocus chrysanthus, with a buttery yellow centre, flushed with violet on the outside. Perfect for bringing extra warmth to spring beds and containers.
The Cretan crocus, Crocus sieberi, normally has white flowers with purple markings on the outer petals. Appearing in March, ‘Firefly’ is a lilac-flowered cultivar with yolky-yellow centres and petal bases.
‘Jeanne D’Arc’ is a lovely white-flowered variety of Dutch crocus, with larger-than-average flowers that appear from late winter. The large corms are good for naturalising in longer grass.
Commonly known as the early crocus, Crocus tommasinianus is often considered the best species for naturalising. ‘Whitewell Purple’ is one of several lovely cultivars, bearing reddish-purple flowers that open to reveal pale purple centres.
Like ‘Whitewell Purple’, ‘Barr’s Purple’ is a cultivar of Crocus tommasinianus, except it has rich, violet-coloured flowers that are great for growing alongside paler varieties to add contrast.
Given the high price of saffron, it’s well worth growing the saffron or autumn crocus, Crocus sativus, to provide your own supply. The beautiful flowers are a fantastic shade of lilac with dark petal bases.
Find out how to grow saffron
Colchicums, or autumn crocuses, are actually found in the Colchicaceae family, whereas true crocuses are part of the iris family, Iridaceae. However, they’re visually similar although more stark in appearance, as the flowers emerge without leaves. Ideal for growing at the front of a sunny border or naturalising in grass for autumn colour. Cultivars to grow include ‘Waterlily’ and ‘Lilac Wonder’.
Crocuses in containers
Crocuses perform exceptionally well in containers, which can be positioned on porches and patios, or in a cool spot indoors, so you can enjoy the colour. Try using them to create a spring bulb tray, or layer the corms with other spring-flowering bulbs to produce a bright, long-lasting display.