Crocus

crocus.jpg

These colorful, cup shaped, low-growing flowers are the first sign that spring is here, sometimes poking their flowers through snow covered ground. Planting a variety of crocus bulbs that mature at different times will extend the blooming season. Most crocus bulbs bloom in early spring with heights ranging from 3 to 6 inches tall. Great for borders or edging; in groups of a dozen or hundreds and thousands for naturalizing; in the grass, woodlands, slopes under trees. Plant in fall for a beautiful spring display.

Planting and Care Tips
-Low care and easily maintained. Once adapted crocus will multiply over time
-Full sun to light shade 
-Well drained soil
-Plant 6 to 8 weeks before hard frost
-Plant 4 inches deep, space 3 to 4 inches apart
-Planting in groups of 12 or more will give the best effect
-Water thoroughly after planted

Popular Crocus Bulbs
Mixed Botanical Crocus: The colors range from white, yellow and striped to lavendar and deep purple. 
Crocus Yellow: Deep golden yellow color. 
Crocus Advanced: Inside lemon yellow with outside shaded purple.

Crocus sativus (Saffron Crocus)
Crocus sativus bulbs, also known as Saffron, produces lilac purple flowers in the fall. Each flower produces three (3) red stigmas. The stigmas can be harvested for cooking and baking. Saffron is most commonly used in Indian and Spanish dishes. Adding saffron to breads, desserts and main dishes adds not only flavor but color too.  Saffron bulbs are reliably hardy in USDA zones 6 through 8. Corms should be planted as soon as they are received. Saffron bulbs will thrive best in full sun, organic rich, well-drained soil. During the summer months, soil should remain relatively dry.  Corms should be planted 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart. If rodents are eating your bulbs plant the corms in a container or line your garden bed with wire mesh. Flowers typically bloom 6-8 weeks after planting. On occasion they will wait until the second fall to make an appearance. Blooms generally last for three weeks. With each successful year corms will multiply.

Harvesting and Cooking
The best time to harvest saffron is mid-morning on a sunny day when blooms are fully open and fresh. Gently pluck the stigmas from the flower, leaving them to dry in a warm place. This preserves the stigmas for cooking. Store dried saffron in a closed container. Soak threads in hot liquid (broth, milk or water) for 15-20 minutes before using. Saffron Bulbs: Harvest bright red stigmas in the fall for cooking and baking.