Saffron has often been described as a spice that is worth more than its weight in gold. It’s so expensive that you may wonder “Can I grow saffron crocus bulbs and harvest my own saffron?” The answer is yes; you can grow saffron in your home garden. Keep reading to learn how to grow saffron.
Before Growing Saffron Crocus
Saffron comes from the saffron crocus bulb (Crocus sativus), which is an autumn blooming crocus. The spice is actually the red stigmas of this crocus flower. Each flower will only produce three stigmas and each saffron crocus bulb will only produce one flower.
When growing saffron, first find a place to purchase the saffron crocus bulbs. Most people turn to a reputable online nursery to purchase them, though you may find them for sale at a small local nursery or catalog. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find them at a chain store or big box store.
Once you have purchased the saffron crocus bulbs, you can plant them in your yard. As they are fall blooming crocuses, you will plant them in the fall, but they will probably not bloom the year you plant them. Instead, you’ll see foliage in the spring, which will die back, and saffron flowers the following fall.
Saffron crocus bulbs do not store well. Plant them as soon as possible after receiving them.
How to Grow Saffron Plants
Saffron plants need well-draining soil and lots of sun. If saffron crocus is planted in swampy or poor draining soil, it will rot. Other than needing good soil and sun, saffron crocus is not picky.
When you plant your saffron crocus bulbs, place them in the ground at about 3 to 5 inches (8-13 cm.) deep and at least 6 inches (15 cm.) apart. About 50 to 60 saffron flowers will produce about 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of saffron spice, so keep this in mind when figuring how many to plant. Also keep in mind that saffron crocus multiply rapidly, so in a few years’ time you will have more than enough.
After your saffron crocus bulbs are planted, they need very little care. They will be hardy down to -15 degrees F. (-26 C.). You can fertilize them once a year, though they grow fine without being fertilized as well. You can also water them if the rainfall in your area falls below 1.5 inches (4 cm.) per week.
Growing saffron crocus is easy and certainly makes the expensive spice much more affordable. Now that you know how to grow saffron plants, you can give this spice a try in your herb garden.