I’ve posted about these bulbs–colchicums–just about every year that I’ve been blogging because I don’t know a whole lot of folks that grow them and I think that’s a shame. The photo above is above the species variety of colchicum. It, and colchicum alba, are my two earliest blooming varieties.
They have so much to recommend them. They are absolutely critter proof, which is quite a lot when it comes to bulbs. All parts of the bulb are poisonous, so nothing–not deer or rabbits above ground, or moles, voles or squirrels that want to dig them up and eat from below ground are going to want to bother with them. This includes the lovely flowers, so you can be sure of getting a glorious show.
They are hardy in zones 5-8 so quite a bit of the country, with the exception of the warmer regions (which can’t grow the Holland bulbs anyway but can grow so many of the tropicals that I have to keep in pots indoors–we all have zone envy in one way or another!) can grow them without an issue.
They increase in clump size every year so once they are in the ground, they continue to grow and get larger, unlike, say, tulips, which are good for only a season or two at best.
And they are lovely, coming in single and double forms of white, pink and lilac. In fact, if anything, the color range is their most limiting factor. It clashes with fall mums, for example. But they go beautifully with the colors of fall asters, which actually offer more to departing butterflies.
They have several common names but I don’t want to confuse that matter with those. One of the common names is autumn crocus, but there are true crocus bulbs, including the saffron crocus, that bloom in autumn as well and there is part of the problem. Just call them colchicums–it’s not that hard.
Finally the remaining obstacle to gardeners, including beginning gardeners, is the price. Single bulbs in my area are around $7, which can be intimidating.
And they sell out quickly. If ordering from a catalog, you may need to order in July to get the choice double ones. Garden centers should have them in September, but once these start blooming in gardens, again, they’ll sell out quickly because folks will see them and want them in their own gardens.
Multiples can be bought for a discount and that’s generally what I’ve done–I’ve bought the “3 for” of each variety that I’ve planted and I’ve added varieties to my garden slowly over the years. As a result, they bloom over a 6-8 week period from late summer to mid-fall–and I couldn’t be happier with them!