Gardeners World Logo
From the team at Gardeners' World Magazine
Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple'

Crocus varieties to grow

Published: Tuesday, 12 October, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Browse our pick of the best crocus to grow for both spring and autumn flowers.

Cheery crocuses are some of the first flowers to pop up in spring. Typically flowering in purple, with lush orange centres, you can also grow white crocus and yellow crocus varieties, for a more variable colour scheme in the sproing garden.

Advertisement

Crocuses are hugely popular with bees, particularly bumblebees, which feast on nectar and cover themselves in pollen after emerging from hibernation. Before establishing a nest, some bumblebees may even sleep in crocus flowers, which close at night.

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 do best in a sunny, open position in well-drained soil. The small corms are particularly easy to plant, too. Over time, crocuses will gradually spread to form colonies that provide marvellous bursts of colour in early spring.

Try some of these pretty crocuses for spring and autumn colour.


Crocus 'Advance'

Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance'
Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance'

'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.


Crocus 'Firefly'

Crocus sieberi 'Firefly'
Crocus sieberi 'Firefly'

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.


Crocus 'Jeanne D'Arc'

Crocus x cultorum 'Jeanne D'Arc'
Crocus x cultorum 'Jeanne D'Arc'

'Jeanne D'Arc' is a lovely white crocus, with larger-than-average flowers that appear from late winter. The large corms are good for naturalising in longer grass.


Crocus 'Whitewell Purple'

Crocus tommasinianus 'Whitewell Purple'
Crocus tommasinianus 'Whitewell Purple'

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.


Crocus 'Barr's Purple'

Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple'
Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple'

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.


Crocus Saffron crocus

How to grow crocuses - saffron crocus
Saffron crocus ( Crocus sativus)

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.


Colchicum speciosum

Colchicum speciosum
Colchicum speciosum
Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content