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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Crocuses

These creep-resistant bulbs are a welcome sight in spring! Just when it seems like winter will never lose its icy grip, the delicate crocus pushes through the snow and causes a colorful resurgence. Learn more about how to grow crocuses popular with pollinators here!

About crocuses
From snow crocuses (the first to bloom) to giant Dutch crocuses, all just 2 to 4 inches tall, these blooms offer a variety of colors (pink, red, orange, yellow, purple, blue and more) that stand out from the surroundings in a desolate late winter landscape. Many have strong scents that attract bees from their hives even in February or March and provide pollinators with an important source of food in early spring.

Crocuses not only provide color in the winter garden, but also grow wild, i.e. As a bonus, deer, squirrels and rabbits rarely disturb early small crocus bulbs.

Crocuses grow best in a location with full sun exposure (6+ hours of direct sunlight), but will also thrive in partial sun exposure. Choose a planting site with well-drained soil; The tubers rot in moist, compacted soil. Before planting, work in organic material such as compost to a depth of at least 10 inches.

When to plant crocuses
Crocuses need to be exposed to cold weather for long periods of time to bloom. Therefore, plant them in autumn so that they bloom in spring.
Before the ground freezes in the fall, crocus bulbs can be planted almost anywhere except in dense shade on the north side of buildings or under thickets.

Ideally, plant crocus tubers 6 to 8 weeks before hard frosts are expected in the fall and the soil temperature is below 16°C (60°F). This typically occurs in September or October in the northern United States and Canada and October or November in the southern United States.

How to plant crocuses
Plant crocus tubers 3 to 4 inches deep (tip up). Water well after planting.
Plant bulbs in groups or clumps rather than placing them in a single row along a walkway or border. Individual flowers disappear into the landscape. Plant several inches apart and in groups of 10 or more plants.
Consider planting crocuses in lawns and meadows where they can form carpets, or clustering them at the edge of flower beds.
For color contrast, plant taller spring bloomers and shrubs behind the first bulbs.

Apply a balanced fertilizer in early fall when your spring is short and days heat up quickly. If your spring is long and temperate, you can apply fertilizer after the bulbs bloom in late winter. The crocuses have the chance to use the additional nutrients to build larger carbohydrate stores.
Water the crocus beds throughout the fall when the weather turns dry, but do not allow the soil to become waterlogged. Cover the beds with mulch before winter.

In late February, remove heavy mulch from snowdrops and crocuses to allow shoots to come through. Leave a thin layer of leaves to protect against late season frost.
In February and March, have plastic milk jugs or other covers available to protect the flowers of crocuses and other early bloomers from another storm.
If crocuses are growing on your lawn in mid-spring, do not mow until the leaves have died back.