Very few early-flowering bulbous, tuberous and cormous plants are as extensively planted as the Crocus. Indispensable for each and every garden, they join snowdrops, winter aconites and glory-of-the-snow as the very first heralds of spring. The bright yellow ones, so often seen, bring the first bit of 'warmth' to the new year. More than 100 species are known, but only thirty have been cultivated. The most popular crocuses are the ones that no longer closely resemble their wild ancestors.
- Crocuses have narrow leaves with a silver-gray stripe down the middle. The plant’s scientific name, Crocus sativus, is Latin derived from the Greek word, krokos. With this name, the ancient Greeks were most likely referencing the plant used at that time as a source of saffron.
- Some crocuses flower in the fall, but these are fairly rare. Crocuses are very similar in appearance to the Colchicum, to which they are distantly related. The Crocus can be distinguished from the Colchicum by the number of stamens: the Crocus has three, while the Colchicum has six.
- The effect of crocuses is especially beautiful when they are planted in large numbers. For optimal effect, 100 to 150 corms should be planted.
- One important growing condition is that crocuses must have a well-drained soil. Crocus bulbs remaining in the ground will always bloom a bit earlier than the ones planted the previous year. The calyx-shaped flowers open only when the sun shines or when there is a lot of light; they close up in rainy weather and at night.