Crocus notes

John Lonsdale
Mon, 15 Dec 2003 15:54:47 PST
Whilst I have a minute - a few comments on Jane's excellent crocus notes.

To me the joy of growing crocus is largely down to bringing-on as many
species as possible from wild-collected seed - the variation in seedlings is
incredible and you get the added bonus of good set from your resulting
potfull of distinct clones.  I agree that many of the more interesting
species are difficult to get hold of, a few almost impossible, but many are
freely available from the various societies, including the Crocus Group in
the UK.  The likes of Jim Archibald, Vlastimil Pilous and others also make
seed available, as do some of the more responsible botanic gardens (e.g.

I love the Middle Eastern species and they seem to do very well here.
Crocus aleppicus grew from seed from at least three distinct collections as
well as a Mike Salmon accession.  I love it - a delicate and charming
species flowering in October.  As one of the Middle Eastern species it
certainly appreciates a warm and dry dormancy, but otherwise seems to
present no problems.  Crocus vitellinus LB325 is lovely and reliably flowers
in mid-fall - the commercial Dutch stocks seem to flower very much later.
A related species which also does well is Crocus hyemalis - some of the
collections of these species are confused but easily sorted out when the
plants flower - usually 3 years after sowing.  The other Middle Eastern gems
are Crocus moabiticus, hermoneus and pallasii.  I am indebted to Jane for
the former as seed and corms - probably the most spectacular crocus in my

Crocus veneris PB181 and Crocus cyprius are two small but striking gems from
Cyprus, albeit very difficult to get hold of and slow to increase.  The
latter goes back as quickly as forward and I have never had seed.

I also adore Crocus karduchorum (NOT kotschyanus var leucopharynx) and have
a number of seedlings coming on nicely, although it disappeared quickly from
the garden.

Two Per Wendelbo introductions that are firm favorites are Crocus gilanicus
and Crocus caspius - the latter a very robust species well worth growing and
easy from seed. 

The Crocus biflorus complex seems to be expanding at an alarming rate and
wonderful recent introductions include Crocus biflorus ssp. artvinensis
WK02, Crocus biflorus ssp. fibroannulatus HKEP9361 and Crocus wattiorum
HKEP9548 - the latter especially stunning.  Crocus paschei, Crocus
leitchlinii KPPZ90148 and Crocus kerndorffiorum HKEP9010 are also little
seen treasures.

I seem to have numerous wild collections of Crocus kotschyanus ssp.
suworowianus and these do very well in the garden and in pots - much earlier
than but superficially similar to Crocus vallicola, which has also settled
down in the garden.  The latter does best for me of all the alpine crocuses,
others which vary between success and abject failure, usually quickly ending
in the latter, include Crocus alatavicus, Crocus michelsonii,
Crocus pelistericus, Crocus scardicus and Crocus scharojanii.  Strangely the
natural hybrid between Crocus abantensis and angustifolius (x paulinae) does
really well.  I suspect the higher alpine crocuses just don't like our hot
and humid summers.


Dr John T Lonsdale,
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

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