when is an Autumn Crocus not an Autumn Crocus?
When it’s a Colchicum!!
too many books and presenters refer to the Colchicum as
an Autumn Crocus. These are not related to Crocus at all
but they are in the family, Colchicaceae,
which includes Merendera (now Colchicum), Gloriosa
Crocus are in the Iridaceae family
that includes Crocosmia and true Iris.
I include early and late flowers among my collection of
Crocus I could almost say Crocus can give five months of
interest. The main flushes for Crocus are February and
late September into October. In this short article I
will only write about the autumn flowering species.
usual potting mix was an equal parts mix of
Westland top soil and grit with half a part of
leaf mould and added bone meal. This year my
repotting followed the views of Ian Young.
Crocus require a faster draining, moisture
retentive mix to copy where they grow in the
wild in Greece and Turkey. The potting mix,
mixed in my wheel barrow, is now one bag of
grit and one bag of horticultural sand, a
bucket of leaf mould, thanks Margaret!, and a
cup of bone meal. This I mix by hand until the
mix is even. Christmas is coming so if I’m
good maybe Santa will deliver a cement mixer.
It’s amazing how fast this mix drains. My
old mix would sometimes take minutes to leave
very exciting when the first noses appear in pots in
the greenhouse. The pots have stayed dry in there
since the leaves yellowed. Now is the time to give
them a good water to get the roots going. It can take
only a day or two for a Crocus to flower from the
first bud appears. There could be five or more flowers
from one corm and this is nature way of spreading the
flowering period so all flowers are not hit by weather
or eaten. In the greenhouse I move them to the bench
as soon as the bud extends. In there they are not
battered by wind or rain and they remain pristine
until pollinated by a queen bumble bee or hoverfly.
This warm autumn has been brilliant for Crocus. They
have showed themselves off very well. Once the flowers
are over the pots go outside. In late winter when the
leaves are at their best I begin to feed the bulbs
with Sulphate of Potash or tomato food to help build
the corm for the following year.
of the best Crocus for the greenhouse, bulb
frame or garden are the smaller species. Crocus
speciosus that is widely available in garden
centres and catalogues has been produced from
Dutch selections to be tall. This has a downside
because it doesn’t stand up very well to wind
would recommend the following
laevigatus – all it’s forms
pulchellus – species, ‘Album’ and
goulimyi – the species and the white form
niveus – large white flowers
hadriaticus – large white flowers with brown