Winter Bulbs: The Crocus

Winter Bulbs: Crocus – The crocus is one of the best-known late winter and early spring flowers. The genus embraces more than 80 species of dwarf corms found in a wide variety of locations, from central and southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East to central Asia and western China.

Hundreds of cultivars have been produced. Almost every flower color but pink is available, and some are attractively striped. A few have stamens in a contrasting color. Robust hybrids are splendid for naturalizing in lawns, and they can create stunning effects, either in the traditional mixture of colors or when a more subtle selection of just one or two shades is planted.


Crocus chrysanthus. This species is usually represented in cultivation by its many selections, all flowering in late winter to early spring and including ‘Advance’, yellow with violet outer petals; ‘Blue Pearl’, which has silver-blue flowers, ‘Ladykiller’, which has slender, pure white flowers marked with purple, ‘Snow Bunting’, pure white and one of the most spectacular cultivars, ‘Zwanenburg Bronze’, which has rich yellow flowers marked with purple-brown.

Crocus sieberi. Flowering in late winter to early spring, this species has yellow-centred, light blue flowers with bright orange pistils. Among the prettiest forms are the golden-throated, white ‘Albus’ which flowers in early spring, and ‘Firefly’, which has prolific lilac and yellow flowers.

Crocus vernus. The species has many selections, all of which are excellent for naturalizing and flower from late winter to early spring. These include ‘Jeanne d’Arc’, which has pure white flowers, ‘Pickwick’, which has grayish-white flowers, striped with violet, and ‘Remembrance’, which has violet flowers with a silvery sheen.

Crocus tommasinianus. This crocus is one of the best for naturalizing and produces lavender flowers in late winter. ‘Ruby Giant’ has large, purple flowers, ‘Whitewell Purple’ has purplish-red flowers, but with silvery-mauve lining inside and it is more slender than those of ‘Ruby Giant’.



C. ‘Jeanne d’Arc’


C. ‘Pickwick’


C. ‘Advance’


Crocus ‘Zwanenburg Bronze’