Bulb Growing: How to Grow Crocus and Crocus Varieties
Although they are not by any means the first of the spring-, crocuses are nevertheless usually regarded as the heralds of spring and no garden is complete without them. Among the earliest to flower are Crocus imperati, with scented violet flowers, and Crocus sieberi, which is a lovely lavender-blue colour. After these come the varieties of Crocus biflorus, most of which have a cream or white ground cover with blue or purple feathering.
Crocus ancyrensis (Golden Bunch) has orange-yellow flowers while Crocus chrysanthus has several first-rate varieties including Blue Pearl, pale blue; Snow Bunting, white, feathered purple; and Cream Beauty, ivory white. Crocus susianus, Cloth of Gold Crocus, is a gem for the, while the silvery-lavender Crocus tomasinianus looks well in a border or in grass. Plant all 3 in. deep.
The large-flowered Dutch crocuses produce a beautiful display in the early spring whether in the rock garden or in the front of beds or borders. Many of them are excellent for naturalising. For bedding they should be planted 3 in. deep fairly closely to obtain maximum results. Inthey can be left undisturbed for three or four years, while in grassland or they need never be moved and will increase naturally.
Good varieties include Kathleen Parlow, snowy white; Paulus Potter, glossy ruby purple; Yellow Giant, golden yellow; purpureus grandiflorus, deep purple; Queen of the Blues, light blue; and Striped Beauty, white striped lilac. The brightest display with crocuses is achieved by planting a mixture of named varieties.
Crocuses are usually regarded as spring-flowering corms, but the large group of autumn crocuses, though similar, are notably hardy and if left undisturbed increase readily from self-sown seed and cormlets. Small patches in borders,, shrubberies, woodland, or in grass soon spread into a colony of glorious bloom.
Autumn crocuses grow in any well-drained soil and should be planted 3 in. deep and 2 to 3 in. apart in late July and August for best results. They do well in window-boxes or in pans or trays in the cold.
Mixed autumn-flowering species are excellent for gardeners who want a really good show in naturalised conditions. For a continuous long flowering period choose from among the named species. Many flower soon after being planted and before producing foliage.
Among the first to bloom in September is Crocus zonatus, producing large but dainty pinkish-mauve flowers with a gold base and orange-gold anthers. Its leaves appear after the flowers. Crocus speciosus bursts into bloom with bright blue goblets having violet veinings and orange stigmas. The pure white form, albus, has a red stigma. This free-flowering gem blooms from late September into October and is particularly delightful when planted with Crocus pulchellus, which has sky-blue flowers and white anthers.
Specialist nurseries offer other species, and autumn-flowering crocuses are inexpensive. Choose them for colour and flowering time and do naturalise a few dozen to create a carpet effect in grass.