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The genus Crocus (Crocus) belongs to the family Iris (Iridaceae). Around 90 species are known, as well as numerous subspecies and hybrids, which are the result of the crossing of different species. The home of the wild species are Central and Southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and West China. Many are native to Turkey and Greece. The natural sites include rocky slopes, evergreen oak bushes and coniferous forests.

In the garden culture play little Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus), Elven Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus), Sieber Crocus (Crocus siberi) and Spring Crocus (Crocus vernus) a major role. These species are called spring bloomers, while the magnificent autumn crocus (Crocus speciosus) is one of the species that bloom in the autumn weeks. The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) is also an autumn bloomer - its orange threadlike stamps are harvested, dried and traded as saffron for millennia. Saffron threads are among the most expensive spices in the world. In addition to growing areas in Iran and Afghanistan, there are saffron cultures, including in Spain, France, Italy and Austria.

Saffron crocus (Crocus sativus)

The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) is grown mainly in Iran and Afghanistan and provides one of the most expensive spices in the world - the saffron

Appearance and growth

Crocuses are often mistakenly associated with the bulbous plants. However, they have a so-called stem tuber, that is, it is a thickened, subterranean stalk part. This tuber is one year old, but every spring one or more new tubers form. The old tuber then dies. From the tubers drive down narrow leaves, reminiscent of blades of grass. The plants grow between 5 and 15 centimeters, depending on the species. In the case of crocuses, a distinction is made between the group of spring bloomers, the large-flowered hybrids and the autumn bloomers. Flowering time of the first group is in early spring from February to March, the large-flowered hybrids bloom occasionally until April. Autumn crocuses bloom mostly from September to October. Predominant flower colors are violet, yellow and white, in addition there are two-colored varieties.

Crocus with bee

Bees and bumblebees "fly" on spring-flowering crocuses

The species that thrive in the spring are important feed plants for bees and bumblebees, which mainly collect the pollen rich in protein and vitamins.

Location and ground

Early-flowering botanical crocuses thrive best in sunny locations in the garden, the autumn-flowering crocuses are also excellent in half-shady places. The large-flowered hybrids, so the classic garden crocuses, prefer a sunny to partially shaded location. It is important to know, however, that the flowering becomes sparse the longer the location is shaded during the day. All have in common their preference for permeable soils, since waterlogging causes the tubers to rot. While the spring-flowering species thrive well on sandy or stony soils, it may be a good garden soil with clay content for the autumn crocuses. For the early bloomers, however, you should improve heavy soils with some sand.


For the spring crocuses is from October to November, the best planting time, the flowering in the autumn species are preferably set in August. The planting depth of spring crocuses is six to ten centimeters, as is the distance between the tubers. Autumn-flowering crocuses are set a little deeper because of the larger tubers. However, as crocuses use their roots to access nutrients and moisture from deeper layers of soil over time, it is not a broken leg if the tubers are set relatively flat. Always place about ten tubers next to each other, because the small flowers are best displayed in groups. If you want to turn your lawn into a crocus meadow, we recommend a loose, random distribution. Especially suitable for the wild are the golden crocus (Crocus flavus), the spring crocus, the small crocus and the elven crocus. They form dense clumps that should be shared after a few years.

Crocus meadow Crocus

Colorful crocus meadow on the island Mainau

care Tips

Crocuses need, once planted, no special care. It is important not to cut the leaves immediately after flowering. They are not removed until they wither, otherwise the plants will be weakened and die off faster. Therefore, if you have planted crocuses in the lawn, you should wait with the first lawn cut until the leaves are yellowed. Fertilize, if necessary, in early spring as soon as the leaves drive out. Suitable is an organic liquid fertilizer, which is applied with the irrigation water.


Spring crocuses combine well with early flowering bulbous flowers such as winterling (Eranthis) and snowdrops (Galanthus) and perennials such as hellebore (Helleborus) and lungwort (Pulmonaria) in a sunny bed of well-drained soil. A colorful crocus rug looks beautiful under deciduous shrubs, but the tubers can also be easily placed in the lawn. Especially the low species are suitable for the rock garden, as well as the flowering in autumn crocuses. Basically, you should always set the plants in groups so that they achieve enough color effect. The low tuber plants can also be planted in the pot, for example together with the reticular iris (Iris reticulata) or small-flowered daffodils.

Important species and varieties

The large genus of crocuses can be divided into three groups: the early-flowering botanical crocuses, the large-flowered hybrids (often simply called garden crocuses) and the autumn-flowering crocuses.

Yellow crocus in the snow

In late winter, early-flowering crocuses are welcome splashes of color

The early-flowering botanical crocuses are characterized by more delicate flowers, which often show already in late winter. Even a blanket of snow and frosty temperatures do not prevent these crocuses from pushing their buds out of the ground. The group of early-flowering crocuses includes, for example, the elven crocus, the spring crocus or the small crocus. There are many varieties available. A special feature is 'Orange Monarch', a relatively new variety of the small crocus, because the dark orange yellow of the flowers is very unusual for crocuses.
From March, the larger garden crocuses will be added, with a palette ranging from white to yellow to violet, while the 'Pickwick' variety is even striped. In addition to the crocus hybrids, this group also includes the gold crocus, which shows several bright yellow flowers per bulb in March / April. The large-flowered hybrids now have a large selection, such as 'Haarlem Gem' with light purple flowers, the white-flowered 'Jeanne d'Arc' or 'Queen often he blues', whose purple-blue flowers have a silvery shimmer.
From about September, the autumn-flowering crocuses make their grand entrance. There are three main species: the violet-blue splendor crocus, the saffron crocus and the ring-crocus (Crocus kotschyanus). Gladly the superb crocus varieties 'Albus' (white) and 'Conqueror' (sky blue with dark veins) are gladly used.

Magnificent crocus 'Conqueror' (Crocus speciosus)

The magnificent crocus 'Conqueror' (Crocus speciosus) delights with sky-blue flowers


The tubers of crocuses form daughter onions, which can be taken out of the ground and transplanted in summer. Many species spread through seeds themselves at sites that appeal to them. Crocuses count as cold germs, meaning that the seeds that are released require several days of freezing temperatures to germinate. From the seedling to the flowering plant usually pass several years. The saffron crocus is infertile due to its triple set of chromosomes and can only be propagated purely vegetatively, ie on the daughter bulbs.

Diseases and pests

Crocuses are only slightly susceptible to disease. In very rare cases, tubers may rot, caused by a fungus. The infected tubers should be removed and disposed of with household waste. In addition, you should not plant crocuses for several years at this location, but also no bulbous plants such as daffodils and tulips, as the disease can survive in the soil and re-infest new plantings. There is no treatment option. As a pest, especially the vole should be mentioned, which eats the tubers. To combat the rodent you can set up special traps or use Vergrämungsmittel. Those who do not want to fight the animals directly, protect the crocus tubers with planting baskets made of wire.

Video Board: Krokus - Screaming In the Night (Live).

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