Crocus in cans

Jane McGary
Fri, 03 Sep 2004 20:00:31 PDT
ASusan forwarded this note:
> From
>>>Do RODENTS Eat Your Crocus? Here's a Solution!
>         Joe Eck, writing in Horticulture (March/April 2004), says 
> "Crocuses can be heartbreakers, since far less benign creatures than bees 
> are partial to their corms. . . . For this reason, we learned years ago 
> to plant all our crocuses in black plastic nursery cans, each covered 
> with a lid of hardware cloth, its corners bent down to clasp the edges. 
> The cans are buried so that the rims and lids lie about two inches below 
> the surface of the soil, and the crocus corms are planted deep, up to 
> eight inches, which prevents them from splitting into tiny cormlets too 
> small to flower. A two-gallon can will hold a dozen species crocus corms 
> comfortably and still leave room for multiplying. Our oldest crocuses 
> planted in this way have been in their cans for 15 years undisturbed, and 
> still flower abundantly each spring. Also, the perennials that come later 
> grow happily over and into the cans, seeming to cause the crocuses no 
> discomfort at all."
>Is this accurate?

Yes and no. I plant crocuses in the garden in small-mesh plastic pots and 
have had them survive a number of years. They aren't that deep, and they 
don't have wire on the top, because I've found that the bulb plants get 
deformed when they try to emerge through the wire. I think that in a 
climate with winter rainfall (I don't know where Mr. Eck gardens), the 
solid bottom of the pot would prevent drainage and the soil would become 
stagnant, causing the crocuses to rot. You could, however, cut out the 
bottom of the pot and replace it with some kind of screen to prevent this.

In my experience the buried pot has to be pretty small, or else the rodents 
just dig in from the top. However, they don't seem to have a clue about 
small pots. In the bulb frame, the worst losses are always in large pots or 

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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