Autumn Crocus?


These bulbs, my photo from Wednesday, are a literal stopper every year. Runners stop, walkers stop, and this year, because of the weediness of the garden, I find that dogs are stopping and making use of the bulbs too. It doesn’t seem to be harming them.

The bulbs are commonly known as “autumn crocus” but there are actual crocus that come up in autumn so this is a case where common names can get very confusing.

These bulbs are colchicums. And unlike most other bulbs that I have planted in my heavy wet clay, these have thrived. They are not bothered by deer (or dogs, apparently), they are not bothered by town snowplows that pile snow on this garden all winter (along with whatever chemicals our town currently uses to treat the roads–I think it’s currently magnesium chloride) and they are not bothered by weeds that attempt to choke them out as this photo shows.

The only one that has not done well for me is a lovely double variety called ‘Waterlily.’ I planted it and it didn’t even survive the first year. Other than that, all the species I have planted have survived and come back.

One thing to note: as with all bulbs, you will have to deal with bulb foliage. This foliage comes up in the spring and lingers into June. I don’t particularly care because I have the roses here.

If this is something you care about, plant these bulbs were the foliage won’t bother you–in other words, where spring plants will distract from the foliage.

2 thoughts on “Autumn Crocus?

  1. tonytomeo October 3, 2019 / 12:24 am

    My saffron crocus was supposed to bloom in autumn, but it blooms in spring with the rest of the crocus. I don’t know what it is, but it is rather pretty in an unrefined woodsy way. It multiplied too! Flavor sort of resembles saffron, but is too mild to be useful.

  2. gardendaze October 3, 2019 / 5:49 am

    My true autumn crocuses are like the rest of the bulbs in my heavy, wet clay soil. After a few years they gave up. These are about the only things that survive along with some really early spring bulbs:snowdrops and scilla. So that’s fine. I have bulbs at truly unexpected times and the rest of the year I have the rest of the garden.

    I have always wondered about saffron crocuses but knowing my history with ordinary ones, I never tried them.


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