We’re all familiar with crocus flowers, those dependable, early spring favorites that dot the ground with bright jewel tones. However, you can also plant less familiar, fall blooming crocus to bring a bright spark to the garden after most other plants have finished blooming for the season.
Crocus Plant Varieties
For most gardeners, selecting crocus plant varieties from the vast array of selections is the most difficult thing about growing crocus— and also the most fun.
Spring Blooming Crocus
According to the University of California Extension, gardeners can choose from approximately 50 different types of crocus bulbs in colors ranging from white or pale pink and lavender to more intense shades of showy blue-violet, purple, orange, pink, or ruby.
Spring blooming crocus species include:
- Dutch Crocus (C. vernus). This species is the toughest crocus of all and is available nearly everywhere. It is available in a rainbow of colors, often marked with contrasting streaks or blotches.
- Scottish Crocus (C. bifloris) is a showy white flower with purple striped petals and yellow throats. Read the label carefully as some forms of Scottish Crocus bloom in autumn.
- Early Crocus (C. tommasinianus). For color soon after the first of each year, consider this crocus species. Often known as “Tommy,” this small variety displays star-shaped blooms of silvery bluish lavender.
- Golden Crocus (C. chrysanthus) is a delightful variety with sweet-scented, orange-yellow blooms. Hybrids are available in many colors, including pure white, pale blue, pale yellow, white with purple edges, or blue with yellow centers.
Fall Blooming Crocus
Some of the most common types of crocus for fall and early winter flowers include:
- Saffron crocus (C. sativus) is a fall bloomer that produces lilac blooms with bright orange-red, saffron-rich stigma. As an added bonus, you can remove the stigma as soon as the blooms open, then dry them for a few days and use the saffron for seasoning paella and other dishes.
- Cloth of Gold (C. angustifolius) is a popular early-winter bloomer that produces star-shaped, orange-gold flowers with a deep brown stripe running down the center of each petal.
- C. pulchellus produces pale lilac blooms, each with a yellow throat and contrasting veins of deep purple.
- Bieberstein’s crocus (C. speciosus). With its flashy, bluish violet blooms, is probably the flashiest autumn-blooming crocus. This species, which increases quickly, is also available in mauve and lavender.