The Perfect Time Of Year To Plant A Crocus Plant

Nothing says spring quite like a crocus flower peeking out of the snow to make the short winter days a little brighter. To get those pretty pops of color, you have to pay careful attention to when you should plant them. The common crocus and autumn crocuses aren't the same, and they have different planting requirements. If you plant the wrong one accidentally, you'll be severely disappointed come early spring. The common crocus needs to be planted in the fall for spring blooms, while the autumn crocus needs to be planted in summer for fall blooms.

Memorizing the types of crocuses might be a challenge at first. You would think the autumn crocus would need to be planted in the fall. But the autumn crocus isn't even a real crocus; it's part of the lily family, while the common crocus (the fall-planted one) is in the iris family. Remember which flower is which, and you can plant both in your garden for year-round blooms.

Plant in summer or fall, depending on the type

Fall is the best time of year to plant spring-blooming crocuses. Depending on where you live, you'll likely plant them anywhere from late August to October. This is also the time to plant irises, which may help you remember that the common crocus (Crocus sativus) should be planted in the fall with its iris relatives. Crocuses grow from corms, or bulbs, that must be exposed to cold temperatures to bloom in the spring. The warming spring temperatures trigger the corm to sprout, and then you have beautiful blooms to enjoy. You can grow crocuses in pots, but you'll still need to expose the corm to cold temperatures, even if that means burying the pots through winter.

Autumn crocuses (Colchicium autumnale) don't require cold temperatures, allowing them to be planted in summer. They're perennial plants that are hardy down to USDA zone 4, so they can survive winter and bloom again next year. They lose their 12-inch tall leaves by spring and won't show any signs of life until it's ready to bloom again in the fall. If you want to plant both kinds of crocuses together, keep in mind that there will be empty spaces where the autumn crocus corms lie dormant.