Crocus: Planting crocus's & growing crocus bulbs
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Plant Bulbs > Fall Bulbs > Planting Crocus

Planting Crocus


Crocus Bulbs Corms
One of the first signs of spring, Crocus bulbs (properly called corms) bloom very early in spring sometimes when there is still snow on the ground!
They provide great bursts of color in partial shade to full sun areas. The short, thin-leafed plants multiply readily, returning year after year in Zones 3 to 8. Crocus are very low maintenance and are great for rock gardens, naturalizing and planting in mass! Crocuses are also one of the easiest cold-hardy bulbs to force indoors!
Spring Blooming Crocus can generally be divided into two types: species and hybrids. The species Crocuses are famous for the unusual coloration their petals display and typically bloom earlier than the hybrids. The hybrid Crocuses are noted for their large flowers and bloom slightly after the species, making for a prolonged bloom time when planted together in the same area.
Planting Crocus in Outdoor Areas
  1. Crocuses are typically planted in fall. They will form roots in fall and bloom early to mid-spring.
  2. It is critical to choose a planting location that has well drained soil* and receives full to part sun.
  3. Crocus corms should be spaced approximately 2-4" apart.
  4. Crocus corms should be planted with the flattest side down** at a depth of 2-3". Plant one corm per hole or plant several together to create bouquet affect.***
  5. Thoroughly soak the planting area with water once all the corms have been planted. Water as needed while the plant is growing and blooming.
  6. Enjoy the beautiful blooms in spring.
  7. After the flowers have died, allow the foliage to yellow and die back. The leaves will continue to gather sunlight and make food for next year’s blooms.
  8. Once the foliage has yellowed and dried, the foliage may be removed by gently pulling it out of the soil. If the leaves do not easily pull away from the bulb, they are not ready to be removed.
  9. Your Crocuses are now dormant and ready to “rest” until next year!
*How do I tell if my soil is Well Drained?
To tell whether or not your soil is well drained monitor the planting location after it rains. After several hours of a rain shower, all precipitation should soak into the soil. If this does not happen a different location should be chosen, or your soil should be amended with additional organic material such as peat humus, composted manure or compost from your home compost bin…If you are still unsure of your soil content you can send a soil sample to your states extension office for testing. If you soil is high in clay content, do not add sand to it, it will turn your soil into concrete. If your soil is sandy and the water drains a bit too well, you will want to add peat moss or humus to enrich the soil, and increase its water and nutrient holding capacity, which will therefore provide a happy home for your bulbs.
I cannot tell what is the flattest side?
If you are unable to tell what side is the flattest just do your best to make an educated guess. The bulb will turn itself around as it reaches for sun and warmth, it may just take a few more days to start growing.
**How do I attain the “bouquet” affect when planting bulbs?
Dig a slightly wider hole than you would for one bulb and place a larger odd number of bulbs in that same hole.
Protecting Crocus Corms from Squirrels
Crocus corms are very low maintenance bulbs that have few pests; however hungry squirrels, mice and ground voles tend to dig them up and prevent you from enjoying their cheery blooms in spring. A good way to prevent this if you have known rodents in your area is to cover the area where you are planting the bulbs with chicken wire. Chicken wire has openings large enough the bulbs can still emerge through it but it works quite well at deterring rodents from stealing your Crocus bulbs.
Planting Crocus bulbs in Outdoor Containers
  1. Fill containers with a good quality, well-drained soil. Adequate drainage holes in the pot are a MUST!
  2. Place containers in a location where they will receive a full day’s sun.
  3.  Space the corms approximately 2-4” from each other. Make sure to plant the corms towards the center of the container as corms planted too close to the outside of the container have a greater chance of freezing over the winter.
  4. Crocus corms should be planted with flattest side down at a depth of 2-3".
  5. Crocuses need a “cool period” to grow and bloom properly however they will not survive if frozen. Therefore, if you live in an area where winters are severe and the ground freezes, the container needs to be moved into a cool place that does not receive frost, such as a garage or cool basement. If the container is too large or heavy to move inside, bubble wrap or burlap can be used to protect the pot from freezing.
  6. As the weather begins to warm up, monitor the container for signs of crocus sprouts. Once the sprouts are seen, move the pot outdoors to a sunny patio or lawn area. If you left your pot outdoors and wrapped it for protection, remove this protection at this time.
  7. Enjoy these lovely flowers in your container. You may plant them in your yard once they are done blooming.
  8. After the flowers have died, allow the foliage to yellow and die back.
  9. Once the foliage has yellowed and dried, the foliage may be removed by gently pulling it out of the soil. If the leaves do not easily pull away from the bulb, they are not ready to be removed.
  10. Your Crocuses are now dormant and ready to “rest” until next year!
Forcing Crocus for Indoor blooms or Growing in Warm Weather Areas
If you are located in an area which does not get cool enough winters (Zones 8b and further south) or would like Crocus blooming indoors late winter follow these instructions. The bulbs will need to be in this environment for 10-16 weeks
1.      You will need an artificially cool environment such as a refrigerator or chilled cellar. Take care not to place the bulbs near apples or other fruits that produce ethylene gases as this will cause the bulbs to rot.
 2.      Choose pots that store easily and are easy to move. 6-8” plastic bulb pans work the best.
3.      Fill the containers with a good quality well-draining soil. Make sure the containers have adequate drain holes this is a MUST!
4.      Space the Crocus corms close together, just as long as they are not touching each other or the sides of the container.
5.      The corms should be planted just deep enough that the tips of them are showing through the soil.
6.    Water the container well after planting. Keep the soil slightly moist during the cool period, but not wet as this could encourage the bulbs to rot. After you have watered the container you may move it to the refrigerator or chill cellar.
7. Once 10-16 weeks has passed and you start to see tender shoots forming, you can gradually expose the bulbs to sunlight and warmer temperatures. Keeping the bulbs in a cool 68 degree room in your home is ideal while they are blooming.
8. Enjoy your lovely Muscari blooms     
9.   After flowering allow the foliage to yellow and dry. Once the foliage has yellowed and dried you may remove it.
  If you want to plant these bulbs in the ground you can once they are done flowering in spring. However be aware that forcing bulbs puts causes the bulbs to put forth a lot of energy and they may be too tired to produce for the following season.