How to Grow and Care for Crocuses in Open Ground?

In the wild, these flowers grow in the Caucasus and Crimea regions of Russia. To cultivate them successfully in your garden, you’ll need to know some tricks – detailed below are the steps for planting and caring for crocuses in open ground, complete with photos.

Planting and Caring for Crocuses in Open Ground

Crocuses, also known as early bloomers, get their nickname because they are among the first to flower in spring, interestingly with foliage appearing only after blooming. Crocuses are vividly colorful, coming in blue, violet, pink, and yellow. Despite their modest height (up to 10 cm), their brightness and bell-shaped flowers with separate petals make them stand out from afar.

Crocuses reproduce through bulbs, which can be round or flat. To ensure spring blooming, the bulbs must be prepared in the autumn.

Choosing Crocuses

Selecting crocus bulbs for planting

Bulbs can be purchased at agricultural markets, flower shops, or from neighbors in your gardening community.

When buying bulbs, inspect them carefully. Avoid bulbs that are bruised, showing signs of rot, or have black spots – they are unlikely to thrive. Minor defects can sometimes be corrected by peeling off the outer layer and treating them with ash or powdered charcoal. However, treat such bulbs separately to avoid damaging the healthy ones.

Also, clarify with the seller which type of crocus you are buying, as there are varieties that bloom in autumn and spring. Accordingly, autumn-blooming ones should be planted in spring (end of April – May), and spring-blooming ones in autumn (second half of September – October).

Avoid buying crocuses with already blooming flowers. Cutting off the flowers before planting may inhibit the plant’s ability to settle in.

Choosing a Site for Crocuses on Your Property

Crocuses need a lot of light and warmth, as they tolerate direct sunlight. However, they also thrive near trees where sunlight is naturally diffused.

Proper location for planting crocuses

Select large areas for planting so they can grow without interfering with other crops in your garden. Crocuses are generally tolerant of different soil types, but they do not thrive in acidic or swampy soils. They grow best in loamy and sandy loam soils.

Fertilize the area shortly before planting the crocuses. After planting, additional fertilization is not recommended.

Planting Crocuses on Your Property

In their first flowering season, crocuses may bloom sparsely or not at all. In such cases, cut off the leaves and flowers at the end of the season and leave them as is. By the next season, the crocus should adapt to its new location.

Planting crocus bulbs

This behavior is typical for “forced” crocuses, i.e., those purchased already in bloom. When planting bulbs, you can expect blooming in the coming months.

For planting, prepare a hole about 10 cm deep and wide enough for drainage. Keep a distance of 5 cm between neighboring bulbs. You can place decayed manure at the bottom of the hole as fertilizer, but this isn’t necessary if you’ve already fertilized the area. Then add drainage material like river sand or small gravel, followed by some soil, place the bulb, and cover with soil. Leave at least 0.5 cm of the bulb tip exposed.

Caring for Crocuses

Caring for crocuses

The first and foremost rule is not to overwater. Crocuses are drought-tolerant but die from excess moisture. In spring, they get enough water from melting snow, and in summer, heavy watering is unnecessary.

After flowering and digging up bulbs for propagation, you can add fertilizer (urea, compost) and leave the area for winter.

It’s worth mentioning the excavation of bulbs. Crocuses should be dug up after flowering and leaf drying. Sort out and dispose of any rotted or diseased bulbs. Good bulbs can be planted before winter or stored in a warm (16-18ºC), dry place until spring, depending on the specific variety’s planting-flowering period.

Crocuses can also be left in the ground. Perennial crocuses planted deeply can live and bloom for about three years.

Videos – Crocus Planting and Care in Open Ground

If you’re aiming to have blooming crocuses by a specific date (like having bright flowers on your New Year’s table), you’ll need to consider forcing crocuses. We will cover that in another article.

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