Saffron Crocus: Gorgeous Lilac Purple Flowers During The Fall

Saffron Crocus: Gorgeous Lilac Purple Flowers During The Fall

Saffron Crocus

Photo Compliments Of Douglas Sprott

Crocus sativus, or more commonly called saffron crocus produces gorgeous autumn blooms just when your garden and landscape starts to fade.  This plant typically grows to 4 to 6 inches tall.  Each corm produces several upright, cup-like, lilac-purple flowers that bloom in early to mid-autumn for about 1 to 2 weeks. Each flower has three long style branches tipped with reddish-orange stigmas. The stigmas often protrude beyond the petal cup.

It takes about 1/4 million stigmas (75,000 flowers) to produce one pound of saffron which in large part explains why saffron is the most expensive spice regularly sold in commerce. Flowers close at night and open up in the morning, but usually remain closed on rainy or cloudy days. Plants generally will not flower in cool, wet areas.  Basal, grass-like leaves appear slightly prior to bloom and are not significant.

How To Make Your Saffron Crocus Thrive

You need to plant saffron crocus corms 3 to 4 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart in late summer to early fall (September). It can easily be grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants perform best in gritty, well-drained soils. You must avoid heavy clay soils, poorly drained soils, or overly moist soil conditions. Plants do best in climates with long, dry summers. Corms must be kept dry during summer dormancy.

General Saffron Crocus Information

Pests and Disease

Mice, voles, and squirrels may eat the corms, while birds may pick off flowers. In storage, corms are prone to rot and mold.


The most effective propagation method is division.

Garden Uses

Saffron crocus brings an attractive ornamental fall bloom to your garden or landscape; large sweeping drifts of this plant can be spectacular. Plants also may be grouped in beds, borders, rock gardens, herb gardens, in front of shrubs, along walks, or in various other small areas around the home

Quick Facts

  • Plant Type: Perennials-Corm
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 6 to 8
  • Growth Habit: Clumps
  • Growth Pace: Moderate grower
  • Height: Less than 6 inches
  • Spread: Less than 6 inches
  • Bloom Time: September to October
  • Bloom Description: Lilac purple flower
  • Light: Full sun only
  • Water: Medium (drought tolerant)
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Maintenance: Moderate to easy
  • Characteristics: Showy flowers
  • Uses: Beds and borders

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