Crocus are one of the first flowers to bloom each spring, with blossoms that often open when there's still snow on the ground. Their cheery flowers come in Easter egg colors of purple, yellow, lavender, cream and white. Crocus are carefree bulbs that naturalize and multiply to produce more flowers every year. These beautiful blossoms are magnets for hungry bees, who are drawn to the rich, golden pollen inside each flower.
When you compare two crocus bulbs side by side, it’s easy to see differences in quality. Larger bulbs, like the one shown on the far left, contain more food energy to fuel the future plant's growth. These bulbs will produce stronger plants with more flowers. Crocus grow from corms (not true bulbs) but for ease they are usually referred to as bulbs.
To see our complete selection of crocus, click HERE.
Sun or Shade: Crocus bulbs should be planted in full sun or partial shade. The bulbs bloom and die back before most trees and shrubs have leafed out, which means they are suitable for planting in areas that may be shaded in the summer.
Hardiness Zone: Crocus are hardy in zones 3-8. If you are unsure about your growing zone, click here for a zone map.
Soil Conditions: As with other spring-blooming bulbs, crocus should be planted in well-drained soil that does not get soggy.
Perennial Gardens: Crocus bulbs are small and easy to tuck into flower beds. Plant them near the front edge when they’ll be easy to see. After the flowers have faded, the foliage will quickly disappear, making way for other plants.
Rock Gardens: Crocus grow well in the spaces between rocks and in gravel gardens. With good drainage and warmth from nearby stones, they’ll bloom extra early. Plant both species crocus and giant crocus to extend the show.
Flowerbeds and Walkways: Combine crocus with other spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, muscari and hyacinths. Crocus will bloom early and add an extra two weeks to the show. Nestle a few crocus bulbs near the edge of a walkway, pathway or steps and enjoy their delicate blossoms every spring for years to come.
Lawn and Landscape: Get a jump on spring by planting crocus around the yard, beneath trees and shrubs and even right in the lawn. Crocus bulbs are small and only need to be planted about 3” deep, so it’s easy to plant a lot of them in a very short amount of time. They look best when planted in clumps or drifts, as they would be found growing in the wild. To watch a short video about planting crocus and scilla bulbs in a lawn, click HERE.
When to Plant: Plant crocus bulbs in the fall, once the weather has cooled down and before the ground has frozen. For best results, plant the bulbs within a month after receiving them.
Depth and Spacing: Crocus look best when they are planted in groups of 3 to 9 bulbs. Space them 3" apart on center and plant 3” deep.
Planting Tips: Crocus are not fussy and will thrive almost anywhere you plant them. They grow best in well-drained soil but will also tolerate both sandy and clay soils.
Unlike some bulbs, crocus don’t mind competition from neighboring plants. Just be certain the foliage gets plenty of sunlight until it fades away.
Squirrels and chipmunks sometimes dig up and eat crocus bulbs. If these pesky critters are a problem in your yard, you can help protect newly planted bulbs by covering the area with screening or by spraying the soil with a scent deterrent. Learn more in this article: How to Protect Fall Bulbs From Chipmunks and Squirrels.
Crocus can flower any time from late winter to early spring. The buds are stemless and emerge directly from the soil at the same time as the foliage. One day there will be no sign of them and the next day they may be blooming! Each bulb will produce several blossoms in quick succession.
Since the flowers don't have a stem, crocus are not suitable for cutting. But you can enjoy their fleeting beauty outdoors and have fun watching bees eagerly gathering the golden-yellow pollen.
Snow and extreme cold can damage crocus blossoms that are already open but this will not affect the bulb or future flowers.
Once crocus bulbs have finished flowering, there’s no need to remove the spent blossoms as they will quickly fade away. Let the foliage continue growing. After a few weeks the leaves will have yellowed and faded away.
If you plant crocus bulbs in your lawn, hold off on mowing the area until the bulb foliage begins to wither. This will give the bulbs the time they need to store energy for next year’s flowers.
Over time, large clusters of crocus may become overcrowded and produce fewer flowers. If this happens, dig up the bulbs shortly after they finish flowering (so you still know where they are). Divide the bulbs into smaller clusters and replant the same area with at least 6” of space between each cluster of bulbs. Plant extra bulbs in new places or share them with friends.
To learn about other early-blooming bulbs, read: Earliest Bulbs for Spring Gardens.