Crocuses bring a burst of colour to the garden in spring and autumn.
Carpets of the small purple, yellow and white flowering corms make a joyful display from late winter onwards. They also provide a much-needed source of nectar and pollen for pollinating insects just emerging into the early spring sunshine. Native to Eastern Europe, these are easy to grow bulbs and are well-suited to growing in pots, and naturalising in grass.
Take a look at our handy crocus Grow Guide, below.
Naturalised planting of Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’
Where to plant crocuses
Most crocus varieties need to be planted in a sunny, open position. They’ll successfully naturalise in grass to make a lovely spring meadow. Certain species, such as Crocus gargaricus, need moist, but well-drained soil and will grow in partial shade too.
Crocuses can be grown in pots, either on their own, or mixed with other spring-flowering bulbs. Add plenty of grit for drainage.
Watch our video advice on how to layer bulbs in a pot.
Planting crocus bulbs in a lawn
How to plant crocuses
Soil should be well-drained, or very gritty and free-draining for most types of crocus. Saffron crocus and other autumn flowering varieties need to be planted quite deep – about 10cm in well-drained, rich soil in a sunny situation and 7.5cm apart.
Make sure you plant your crocus corms with pointed tip going upwards and the flattened end at the bottom of your planting hole.
Follow our step-by-step guide to planting bulbs in lawns.
You can also plant crocuses in borders, near plants that die back over winter. Watch Monty Don in this video.
Crocus ‘Jeanne Darc’
If you have crocuses that have naturalised in grass, don’t cut the lawn until the flowers have died and the leaves have yellowed and disappeared.
Spring-flowering forms come into flower as the sun warms up the soil. However, autumn-flowering crocuses respond to decreasing soil temperatures. So in milder autumns flowering may not be so vigorous if the nights aren’t cool enough.
Planting crocus bulbs in small terracotta pots
Crocuses will multiply once established and create their own colonies. If you want to propagate your collection, dig up large clumps in autumn and split them into smaller ones, or clean off individual corms and pot up.
Crocuses: problem solving
Crocuses are relatively trouble-free, although newly planted bulbs may fall prey to hungry squirrels in the autumn, so it’s worth netting grassy areas, or covering pots with wire mesh.
Crocus varieties to try
Crocus ‘Violet Queen’ – a beautiful deep-violet, spring flowering cultivar
Crocus x culturum ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ – one of a group of Dutch hybrids with larger corms that can be planted deeper in the ground and in thicker grass. Flowers are white with purple staining
Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ – a cultivar with pale purple flowers on strong stems, grows well in herbaceous borders
Crocus sativus – the saffron crocus produces purple flowers in autumn. The bright red style at the centre of the flower produces the delicate yellow strands of cooking saffron. But you need around 150 flowers to produce one gram. They need digging up and replanting into fresh soil every 4-5 years
- Crocus speciosus ‘Albus’ RHS AGM – an all white form of this autumn flowering species. It suits light shade or can be planted under deciduous shrubs. Plant in late summer to flower in September/October