Autumn Crocus (and 1 Colchicum)
Mon, 14 Nov 2005 21:16:41 PST
I missed the flurry of messages on autumn crocus, but I finally caught up a 
little bit and posted a bunch of crocus photos to the PBS Wiki.  I posted 
photographs of the following crocus on the FallBllomingCrocus page at:…

C. asumaniae (2 photos)
C. goulimyi (3 photos)
C. niveus (2 photos)
C. pallasii ssp. pallasii (3 photos)
C. sativus (2 photos)
C. serotinus 'Poseidon' (1 photo)
C. speciosus (2 photos)
C. speciosus xantholaimos (2 photos)
C. tournefortii (3 photos)

I also posted two photos of Colchicum cupanii at:…

This autumn has been rather mild, and the autumn crocus just keep on coming.  
This past weekend, it reached 65 degrees F each day (18 C) with strong 
sunshine to coax the many crocus blooms open.  This has to be the latest season in 
recent memory, with 6 crocus species still in good bloom.  Let me add a few 
notes about the crocus I grow.

All of my crocus are planted outdoors, under my "tree rings"... at the base 
of deep rooted deciduous trees and shrubs.  I noted Jane McGary's PBS Wiki 
entry on C. tournefortii, mentioning that this species has taken 26 degrees F, and 
is best under a greenhouse or cold frame treatment.  I can give assurance 
that this species is perfectly hardy here, surviving long winters with extended 
deep freezes (we had a week of -17 degrees F last winter) and it never fails to 
open those exquisite open chalices of pearlescent gray-lavender with faint 
purple veining, golden centers, and outlandish divided styles in hot orange red.

Crocus pallasii ssp. pallasii:  This I received from John Lonsdale, and it's 
among my favorites. It comes from Turkey. The flowers appear in a "bunch", 
like a posey, a beautiful silvery lilac color, with a deep purple ring at the 
center.  The flowers are powerfully fragrant, and are unique in their ability to 
stay open on dark overcast days and evenings, a welcome attribute shared with 
C. tournefortii.  Like many crocus, it produces a long succession of blooms 
over many weeks.

Crocus goulimyi seems very variable, and photographs from various sources 
reveal many different dispositions of this species.  Mine came from John 
Lonsdale, and I do think it's the most beautiful form of the species I've seen.  The 
tepals are very broad, rounded, and overlapping to form a substantial 
goblet-like appearance.  Also, the inner 3 tepals are white, while the outer 3 are a 
lively lilac, giving an eye-catching two-toned appearance.  The 3-part symmetry 
of the flowers is vaguely similar to C. banaticus.  The flowers of C. goulimyi 
are nicely fragrant.

Crocus sativus:  last September (2004) I bought a package of corms from Home 
Depot, and planted them out.  They didn't flower the first season, which is 
understandable.  This year, only 3 corms flowered.  The flowers are large, 
richly colored, heavily veined, fragrant, and inelegantly spreading.  I liked the 
allied species that I got from Jane McGary better, namely C. asuminiae... a 
delicate beauty, and fragrant too (I get lots of grass and mud stains on my pants 
from lying down on the grass low enough to catch a wiff of these perfumed 
autumn sprites).

Crocus niveus is among the first to bloom and the last to succumb to the 
advancing fall/winter season... such an amazing succession of flowers for weeks on 
end.  The blooms are huge and substantial, the long yellow tubes startling 
from a profile view.  I grow both the pure white form, and the lilac-tinged 
form.  A must have species that's extra reliable in the garden.

Crosus serotinus 'Poseidon' is rather late to flower.  It's the most dwarf of 
any of the autumn crocus I grow (C. asuminiae takes a close 2nd) with small 
but rich violet-purple flowers.  Sometimes I've seen this listed as C. 
serotinus var. clusii 'Poseidon'... can anyone clarify regarding that taxonomic rank.

I also added photos of plain old (yet gorgeous) C. speciosus with it's huge 
open flowers, and C. speciosus xantholaimos (I think, from Jane McGary) with 
richly veined blooms and prolific flowering.  Very nice.

Lastly, I added two photos of Colchicum cupanii.  I notice that on the PBS 
wiki, there are lots of photos showing variants of this species and some 
subspecies.  It is such a tiny plant, much smaller than any of the autumn crocus, but 
high on the cute factor nonetheless when lots of the palest pink starry 
flowers, dotted with darker anthers.

Regarding Crocus corms being eaten by squirrels, my solution has been to 
plant bulbs very deep, and covering with a good 2" mulch of pine bark.  I have 
bevies of squirrels burying acorns from nearby oaks, digging holes evey few 
inches on center, but I have not lost a single crocus planting from such diggings.  
I don't fuss with wire cages to plant the corms in either, because the deep 
planting seems to do the trick.  Perhaps the deep planting also adds to the 
hardiness of these crocus, as some are rated as USDA zone 6 or 7, yet they 
survive my zone 5 just fine.

In spite of several nights of deep freezing, many of these autumn crocus 
continue to push up blooms, as does Colchicum cupanii and Cyclamen cilicium which 
continue unabated.

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States "New England" USDA Zone 5
>> web site under construction - <

More information about the pbs mailing list