The Perfect Time Of Year To Plant A Crocus Plant

The Perfect Time Of Year To Plant A Crocus Plant

Spring is incomplete without the sight of crocus flowers emerging from the snow to add color to the short winter days. However, it’s important to pay close attention to when you should plant them. The common crocus and autumn crocus are two different flowers with distinct planting requirements. Planting the wrong one can lead to disappointment during the blooming season. To grow the common crocus for spring blooms, you need to plant it in the fall. On the other hand, you should plant the autumn crocus in summer for fall blooms.

It may be initially difficult to differentiate between the two types of crocuses. One might assume that the autumn crocus needs to be planted in the fall. However, the autumn crocus is not a true crocus; it belongs to the lily family. Whereas the common crocus, which is the one that should be planted in the fall, belongs to the iris family. By remembering which flower is which, you can enjoy year-round blooms by planting both in your garden.

Plant in summer or fall, depending on the type

autumn crocuses

Elena Grishina/Getty Images

Fall is the best time of year to plant spring-blooming crocuses. Depending on where you live, you’ll likely plant them anywhere from late August to October. This is also the time to plant irises, which may help you remember that the common crocus (Crocus sativus) should be planted in the fall with its iris relatives. Crocuses grow from corms, or bulbs, that must be exposed to cold temperatures to bloom in the spring. The warming spring temperatures trigger the corm to sprout, and then you have beautiful blooms to enjoy. You can grow crocuses in pots, but you’ll still need to expose the corm to cold temperatures, even if that means burying the pots through winter.

Autumn crocuses (Colchicium autumnale) don’t require cold temperatures, allowing them to be planted in summer. They’re perennial plants that are hardy down to USDA zone 4, so they can survive winter and bloom again next year. They lose their 12-inch tall leaves by spring and won’t show any signs of life until it’s ready to bloom again in the fall. If you want to plant both kinds of crocuses together, keep in mind that there will be empty spaces where the autumn crocus corms lie dormant.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.