Crocuses: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Crocus Flowers | The Old Farmer's Almanac


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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Crocuses

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These critter-resistant bulbs are a welcome sight in spring! Just when it seems like winter will never lose its icy grip, the dainty crocus pushes through the snow to put on a show of colorful revival. Here’s more on how to grow crocuses, a pollinator favorite!

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 (pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blues, and more) that stand out against the bleak late-winter landscape. Many have strong perfumes that lure bees out of their hives in February or March, too, providing the pollinators with an important early-spring food source.

Crocuses not only provide winter garden color, but they naturalize, meaning that they spread and come back year after year—with minimum care—for an ever-larger display. As a bonus, deer, squirrels, and rabbits rarely bother early little crocus corms.


Crocuses do best in a spot that gets full sun (6+ hours of direct sunlight), but will grow in partial sun as well. Choose a planting site where there is well-draining soil; the corms will rot in soggy, compacted ground. Before planting, work in organic matter such as compost to a depth of at least 10 inches.

When to Plant Crocuses

  • Crocuses need to experience an extended period of cold weather in order to bloom, so plant them in the fall to get spring blooms.
  • Before the ground freezes in the fall, crocus corms can be planted most anywhere, except in the dense shade on the north side of buildings or under thickets.
  • Ideally, plant crocus corms 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected in the fall and when the soil temperature is below 60°F (16°C). This is usually during September or October in the northern U.S. and Canada, and October or November in the southern United States.

How to Plant Crocuses

  • Plant crocus corms 3 to 4 inches deep (with the pointy end up). After planting, water well.
  • Plant bulbs in groups or clusters rather than spacing them in a single line along a walkway or border. Single flowers get lost in the landscape. Plant a few inches apart, and plant in groups of 10 or more.
  • Consider planting crocuses in lawns and meadows where they can form carpets, or mass them in the front of flower beds along the edge.
  • Plant taller spring-flowering bulbs and shrubs behind the early bulbs for color contrast.

Learn more about planting fall bulbs.

Crocus fieldA carpet of crocuses makes for a wonderful spring sight!

  • Apply a balanced fertilizer in early autumn if your spring is short and the days heat up fast; or, apply fertilizer after bulbs flower in late winter if your spring is long and temperate. The crocuses  will have a chance to use the extra nutrients to produce bigger carbohydrate stores.
  • Through the autumn, keep crocus beds watered if weather gets dry, but do not waterlog the soil. Cover the beds with mulch before the winter.
  • In late February, remove heavy mulches from snowdrops and crocuses so that the shoots can come through. Leave a light layer of leaves to provide late-season protection from frost.
  • In February and March, keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of crocuses and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.
  • If you have crocuses growing in your lawn in mid-spring, don’t mow until their leaves have died down.

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Wit and Wisdom
  • In the language of flowers, crocus means cheerfulness.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.
–Oscar Wilde

  • Mice, voles, and squirrels may feed on the corms. If they are a problem, consider planting crocuses in buried wire cages.
  • Birds sometimes pick off the flowers.
  • Corms in storage are prone to rot and molds if kept too moist.