Crocus Blooms

posted in: Gardening | 15

Winter’s waning by the time the crocus start to bloom as they usually start to flower as the snow is melting. Don’t laugh but would you believe that I’m choosy these days when it comes to growing them. When I first started to plant the corms I bought a few ‘value packs’ that had a mixture of colours together. Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing!  In later years I transplanted them all so that I could keep the similar flower colours together. Though it’s a yearly job as misfits always seem to pop up.


That was also the time when bigger was better in my eyes and I bought many of the larger showier Crocus vernus Dutch spring flowering types.  I’m not as big fan of those late flowering crocus as I once was. They certainly have their place in the garden as they extend the flowering period of crocus and are good for the early bees in flight.  The birds can peck at those flowers all they want and the squirrels and mice can raid my corm stock … but just as long as they leave my smaller flowers well alone!  The little diminutive ones are much more favourable in my eyes.


The flowers are thermonastic just like tulips.


You’ll all have seen the affects of thermonasty but probably didn’t realise the scientific name behind it. It means that a slight increase in temperature will bring about the opening of the flowers. While a decrease will close them though on wet cloudy days the flowers will probably remain shut. A change of temperature of no more than  0.5 °C will start a thermonastic reaction in the corm.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'
  Winter flowering ‘Cream Beauty’ with roots, corm, stem, linear leaves with a silvery central stripe and flower.


corm – a swollen underground plant stem


Crocus chrysanthus

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’  has soft creamy ‘naples yellow’ tepals with a purple feathering at the base along with a mild gentle fragrance. The best about the chrysanthus species is that they can produce many flowers per corm. Cream Beauty grows in a drift under my  deciduous Silver Weeping Pear Tree and practically hugs the soil as it’s stems are very short. It’s very dry in this spot during the summer months which suits these corms so well in their dormant season. Hopefully the new growth from the Geraniums I planted here last year will camouflage their dying grassy leaves.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'
 ‘Cream Beauty’

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Spring Beauty’ is white with a feathering of purple on the outside of the tetals. Then as the flowers open in the sunlight you’ll see that the inner tepals are a pale violet that contrasts with the bright orange anthers. This one grows in one of my scree beds in the front garden.

Crocus chrysanthus ''Spring Beauty'
 ”Spring Beauty’

When it comes to the yellow ones it’s quite hard to tell them apart as many of them grow in the same part of the garden.

Crocus chrysanthus var 'Fuscotinctus' | Crocus chrysanthus 'Goldilocks'
‘Fuscotinctus’ (left image) |  ‘Goldilocks’ (right image)

Crocus chrysanthus var ‘Fuscotinctus’ has fragrant yellow flowers stripped with bronze.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Goldilocks’ is usually the 2nd one to flower in the garden and it has a light fragrance.  It’s a bright cheery buttercup yellow with a darker brown base on the throat of the flower.

Both of these yellow ones seem to liberally increase in number every year.


Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus tommasinianus is a woodland corm. Deer, rabbits, squirrels or mice don’t like them. It’s also known to many as ‘Tommys’, Tommies’ or Tommasini crocus after the Italian Botanist Muzio G Spirito de Tommansini. It has a very slender pale silvery lilac tepal and it’s always the first to start to flowering.  In addition it faces south in the garden in a raised bed next to one of the bark pathways.

Crocus tommasinianus
with bright yellow stamens and reddish orange styles

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’ is new to the garden this year. Well truth be told I can’t remember exactly where I planted them. I’m not holding out much hope of them even coming into flower this year as I planted them far too late in the season. Crocus really need to be planted as soon as possible in the autumn. Mine were planted in December …well I can’t resist a bargain!

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant’  has a much bigger darker globlet flower than the other ‘Tommy’ crocus though it’s sterile.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'
 ‘Ruby Giant’


Finally Crocus sieberi 


Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma ‘Tricolor’ has a violet, yellow and white flowers with fragrant flowers.

Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma 'Tricolor'
Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma ‘Tricolor’
Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimi forma 'Tricolor'

These winter flowering plants naturalise quite easily by self seeding unlike the larger Dutch ones and Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’  which are sterile and need to increase via corms. They also require a planting position that receives at least half a day of sunlight. If there are any early pollinators around they’ll only visit those flowers that are open in the sunshine. Eventually mine will become dense swards of late winter colour. Planting crocus corms a bit deeper than the recommended 2-3 inches seems to deter squirrels.

What crocus grow in your garden and are they earlier or later to flower this year for you? I hope it won’t be long for winter to wane in your region too!


Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. If you'd like to receive the latest leavesnbloom blog posts by email click here.

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15 Responses

  1. Jane Rutkowski

    Hi Rosie. Your photos of all kinds of crocus are just lovely. I do have a question for you. While at the grocery store yesterday I saw little pots of crocus for sale. They were not blooming, tips only showing. The plant tag in the pot simply said put the pots in a sunny window and enjoy them when they begin to bloom and then plant them later in your garden after the flowers fade. I have never thought of crocus as a semi-houseplant. What's your opinion?

    • Rosie Nixon

      Hi Jane you can keep them indoors but it would need to be a very cool room. The flowers will certainly open out indoors very quickly. If it's not freezing temperatures outside I'd just plant them in the garden especially if the tips are just showing in the soil and wait for them to flower in another few weeks. But I suppose it all depends on how impatient you are for a few flowers. I cut some of mine and bring them indoors. They will last about 3 days on the windowsill as a cut flower.

  2. rusty duck

    As with any bulbs in the garden, I'm on a mission to find a way of protecting my crocuses from attack, mainly pheasants, squirrels and mice. Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty' certainly lives up to its name. As with daffodils, I much prefer the diminutive varieties and planted under trees in drifts it would indeed look spectacular. Crocus tommasinianus is pretty too.

  3. flowersandhome

    Absolutely beautiful!!! I love Crocusses, so fragile and delicate, probably why they don't survive in our wet garden.
    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photography,

  4. Bernie H

    Beautiful signs of Spring on the way. Of course the Crocus is a flower I never get to see here, so I really enjoy your photos. Over here our summer has officially ended and while the summery conditions will continue for quite a while yet, at least the end is in sight.

  5. myaberdeengarden

    Hi Rosie,
    Thanks for this post – it is good to get to know some more varieties of crocus. I also have Cream Beauty, in a pot and in the rockery, and it is lovely especially when the sun shines. I have Whitewell Purple too – it is quite small and delicate and not easy to see, but should be lovely if it naturalises. I have a few other random ones that pop up from time to time in the herbaceous border, but they don't seem to last long there – it could be the squirrel. Have you ever tried the Autumn flowering Sativus. I planted as directed last Autumn but maybe I was too late as no flowers appeared at all – just the rather spindly leaves!

  6. Rosemary

    Spring Beauty is exquisite, and I love the translucent qualities of Crocus tommasinianus.

  7. Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening

    Beautiful photos Rosie. I can't wait until my crocus are blooming in the garden. By the looks of this winter it will probably be another several weeks. This was a pretty and informative post and I love how you portrayed the images in the collage at the end…thanks for the smile!

  8. Angie

    The first ever crocus I planted were Crocus chrysanthus Cream Beauty – sadly most of them have disappeared and mauve and purple seems to have taken their place! I've never bought any in those colours. I've just bought some C. chrysanthus Romance and have kept them well away from anything else! I planted some Blue Pearl in autumn in pots, they seem to be miles behind the rest and are just showing above the soil.
    Your Crocus are gorgeous Rosie and I can't wait until mine spread like those. Spring Beauty is one I must add to my list for autumn.

  9. Rick

    Really interested to see all the different types of specie crocus that you grow, as so often is the case in the plant world hybrids are not always the most appealing when compared with the simple beauty of the species.

  10. Millymollymandy

    Wow I learn a lot from you. I've always thought crocuses were just crocuses! Because I don't grown them I don't know anything about them. I've meant to plant some in the lawn for years but never got round to it! You have some real beauties and your photos are amazing, as always.