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Autumn Crocus and Colchicum Bulbs

Fall blooming bulbs are the tiny treasures of the autumn garden. As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen, the Saffron Crocus and Colchicum flowers make their début. These bulbs are planted in late summer to early fall with their blooming period to follow immediately afterwards. As much as the spring crocus herald the coming of Spring and the end of winter, the autumn-blooming bulbs announce fall is coming.


Saffron Crocus - Crocus Sativus

Saffron Crocus - Crocus Sativus, like their spring-blooming cousins, grow to about four inches tall. These fall bloomers are light purple with yellow stamens and three red stigmas per flower. The bulbs are about ¾ of an inch across and should be planted 2-3 inches deep in September. Saffron crocus is not the easiest bulb to grow so choose your site carefully in full sun with good drainage and add a little bonemeal. Saffron Crocus, botanically Crocus sativus, is the culinary form whose stigma are harvested for the much sought-after spice, saffron. To harvest your saffron simply pick the stigmas, mid-morning, as soon as the flowers open, dry them and then store them in a jar.

Colchicum The Giant - Single Autumn Crocus

Colchicum flowers are quite a bit bigger than the Saffron Crocus rising to about eight inches in height. It's important to note the Colchicum flowers are ornamental only and the flowers and stamens are in fact poisonous. Colchicum flowers bloom without leaves leading to common names such as naked crocus, and they are quite beautiful in their simplicity. Their leaves do not appear until spring, arising then without flowers, but the foliage is an important developmental phase of the bulbs. Colchicum 'The Giant' has a lovely lavender-pink single flower and Colchicum 'Waterlily' has a spectacular double violet-pink bloom that does indeed look a lot like a water lily flower. Colchicum are a large bulb measuring 2-3 inches across and should be planted about 3-4  inches deep.  Both single and double Colchicum are very easy to grow and multiply quickly.

Colchicum Waterlily - Double Autumn Crocus

Whichever fall blooming bulbs you choose I know that you will enjoy them and consider them the tiny treasures that signal the coming of autumn.