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Crocus chrysanthus

Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials


Low growers, mainly from the Mediterranean region and the Caucasus. All have grasslike leaves, often with a silvery midrib; foliage comes before, with, or after flowers, depending on the species. Flowers come in a wide range of colors and are 1 1/2–3 in. long, with long, stemlike tubes and flaring or cup-shaped petals; the short (true) stems are hidden underground.

Most crocuses bloom in winter or earliest spring, but some bloom in fall, the flowers rising from bare earth weeks or days after planting. Mass them for best effect. Attractive in rock gardens, between steppingstones, and in containers.

All need six weeks of temperatures below 45°F to initiate flower formation; if your area doesn’t supply it, put bulbs in the refrigerator for 6 weeks before planting. Annuals anywhere.

Set corms 2–3 in. deep and 3–4 in. apart, in light, porous soil. Protect from gophers. Divide every 3 or 4 years. Won’t naturalize where winters are warm.

Crocus chrysanthus

Orange-yellow, sweet-scented blooms. Hybrids and selections of the species range from white and cream through yellows and blues, often marked with deeper colors. Usually even more free-flowering with smaller flowers. Blooms in spring.

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