Lovely Crocus Flowers Bloom in Both Spring and Fall

by AngelaJohnson

The crocus plant is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring. But not everyone knows that there are also crocuses that bloom in autumn.

There are about eighty species of crocus. Fall / autumn crocuses are part of the lily family, and spring crocuses are part of the iris family.

Crocus flowers come in various shades of white, yellow, and purple with most varieties having green leaves with a white stripe down the middle.

The plant is short, perhaps 6" or 8" tall and it's such a treat to see them peeping out of dull brown colored grass or even in the snow. When there are plenty of crocus in bloom, I'll cut a few and put them in a short vase to bring a bit of spring indoors.

I took all the photographs on this page ~~ Burntchestnut

Pretty Colorful Crocus in the Spring

crocus growing in grass

One of the first signs of spring in the north and midwestern U.S. states are crocuses in bloom.

Many people like structured flower beds and flowers do look nice when a whole clump is in bloom.  But I also like to see individual plants coming up here and there in a lawn like this one. 

Crocus "bulbs" are actually crocus "corms", which have a flat end and a pointed end. Corms are solid and have a papery outer covering, similar to the covering on garlic bulbs.

The crocus corm that was planted in autumn gets completely used up as it grows and flowers in spring. Before going dormant, the plant makes a new corm and sometimes more than one. That's why it's important

That's why it's important not to mow the grass after the bloom dies and while the leaves are still green. If you cut the plant too soon, there won't be any foliage left to grow a new corm for next year.

It's best to wait six weeks after they finish blooming and then set the mower blades to a high setting. 


Crocuses Blooming in the Lawn

Photo by Burntchestnut
crocus in lawn

How and When to Plant Crocus

Crocus Close up

Crocuses do well in cold to moderate winter weather. They won't grow in hot climates, although you might try growing them in pots if you have a cool room in the house. 

Plant crocus bulbs (corms) in the fall. Look around for a sunny area where the ground doesn't normally get too wet or soggy. You might want to find a spot where you can see the crocuses bloom from your window. 

Crocuses are small corms, so they dry out faster than larger bulbs. Plant the crocus in early fall as soon as you buy them. 

purple crocus budsYou can buy crocus at many retail and home improvement stores, but the packages will probably not be labeled with their scientific name. If you want to plant a particular type of crocus, buy from a well known nursery or mail order store. 

Plant crocus corms with the pointed side up. Dig a hole about 2 inches deep and plant the corms about 2 or 3 inches apart. You can plant crocus throughout your lawn, in flower beds, and in pots. 

Work the soil a little before you plant, adding compost or a little plant fertilizer. Crocuses are hardy plants and don't need much help unless your soil is extremely poor.  Afterwards, you can put a thin layer of mulch if you like. 

Crocuses don't have insect problems and are resistant to disease, but squirrels like to eat new corms. If you have squirrels in the area, you can lay chicken wire on top of the ground after planting. If the corms are planted in a garden, you can cover the wire with mulch to hide it. It you're planting in your yard, you may want to leave the wire exposed or place some flags or markers so you'll remember where the bulbs are.  

Fall / Autumn Crocus

This patch of autumn crocuses were from my mother's yard

Some crocus species grow in the fall, adding color when most other plants are no longer in bloom. Fall / autumn crocuses are part of the lily family, where spring crocuses are part of the iris family.

autumn crocusThe autumn crocus has flowers about 4 inches across and have clusters of one to four blossoms.  They rise out of the ground without any accompanying foliage.  They bloom about 2-3 weeks and then die back to the ground. 

The following spring, several leaves appear, about a foot tall.  These leaves produce food that is used by the underground corm. The foliage dies down by early summer, and you don't see anything more until it flowers in early autumn. 

If you don't know you have these plants and cut down the foliage before it feeds the corms, they will probably die.

You probably won't be able to buy autumn crocus bulbs except at garden centers or mail order stores.  They must be planted earlier than normal fall bulbs.

NOTE:  You shouldn't plant autumn crocus if you have pets that eat plants.  Although spring crocuses can also make animals sick, the autumn crocuses are highly poisonous (they contain a  toxic alkaloid called colchicine). All parts of the Autumn Crocus are poisonous. 

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Updated: 02/14/2015, AngelaJohnson
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RuthCox on 09/05/2014

Oh yes, when I lived in cooler northern climate areas I so enjoyed when the crocus flower began to bloom. And yes, I am always careful not to mow the wildflowers, including dandelions!

Raintree on 08/30/2014

I love our spring crocuses. Keep meaning to plant some autumn ones too. They are so pretty. Love your beautiful photos :)

poutine on 11/09/2013

I also didn't know that there were fall crocuses. Thanks for telling us about them.


ologsinquito on 08/24/2013

I didn't even know there was a such thing as fall crocuses. I'll be looking for them now.

2uesday on 08/18/2013

I prefer the spring crocus to the autumn ones.

I think the autumn ones I think the autumn ones will even flower if they are not planted, as I have seen some on sale that flowered in the box they were being displayed in at the garden shop.

Mira on 08/18/2013

How interesting. I didn't know there were autumn crocuses -- and that they were poisonous!

katiem2 on 04/11/2013

I love crocus flowers, I have them planted all throughout my front lawn, it's so beautiful when they pop from the ground creating a blanket of purple among my lawn still coming to life. Great flowers indeed. :)K

pawpaw on 04/11/2013

I like them, because they are so early.

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