fall crocus

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Thu, 12 Aug 2004 08:19:16 PDT
Jane McGary wrote: 
>Even in western Oregon (winter lows typically in the mid-teens Fahrenheit), 
>Crocus goulimyi and C. pulchellus are not winter-hardy in the open garden. 
>C. cancellatus is moisture-intolerant.

Crocus goulimyi in the typical form and in a white form have been easy
growers in this garden for years. I wonder if the problem in Jane's
location is not so much the winter cold as the summer cool. Many eastern
North American woody plants hardy into the far north do poorly in much
milder English winters, and the consensus seems to be that it's because of
the relatively cool summers.

> I think that all commercial stock of C. medius is virus-infected, so it
would > have to be grown from seed (does anybody have some?). 

I've had Crocus medius from several sources many times over the last
thirty-five years; I've never known these plants to set seed.  So if anyone
knows of a seed source, I'm interested, too.

Several posts have had good things to say about Crocus laevigatus. I have
only a few of these, and they are in an unheated frame. Evidently they are
very tough: last year, they were in full bloom before the onset of a
six-week freeze-up. The flowers went glassy during the freeze. Once things
thawed out, the old flowers collapsed, but were replaced by new ones in
about a week. 

One nagging failure here: the plant sold under the name Crocus
cartwrightianus albus. This plant, whatever it is, is the touchiest crocus
I've ever had. Newly planted corms rot or, it they don't rot immediately,
rot as soon as the ground freezes. Actually, it's not the corms which rot:
it's the new sprout, which rots near its connection to the corm. I've never
been able to keep these alive for more than a few weeks, although even
rotting sprouts will sometimes mature flowers.  

Does anyone know what this plant is? Is it really a white form of Crocus
cartwrightianus? What is the secret to growing it?

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where a frame devoted to
autumn flowering crocus strikes me as one of the nicest things to have in
the garden. 

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