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Fall Flowering Colchicum Flowers

All About Fall Flowering Crocus & Colchicum

There's something delightful about fall flowering crocus. No matter how long you grow them, they always surprise you in fall with their bright, cheery flowers. Maybe it's because we don't expect them this time of year or because they stand out with the lack of other brightly-colored flowers in the garden, but they seem to shine each autumn.

All About Fall Flowering Crocus & Colchicums

About Fall Flowering Crocus

  • These small-flowering bulbs, including Saffron Crocus, have flowers much like their spring flowering cousins.
  • The flowers appear in fall, and are followed by grass-like foliage either at flowering or later in fall.
  • These Crocuses come in colors such as white, purple-blue, and lilac.
  • Most are hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9, but there are some species that can grow in the colder climates of USDA zones 4 and 5.

About Saffron Crocus

  • The most common fall crocus is the edible Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus)!
  • Purple flowers appear in early fall in cold areas and, later in fall in warmer locations. It's hardy to USDA zone 5.
  • The thin red filaments in the flower can be delicately removed with a tweezer and used in cooking – these are the same saffron threads that you find in the spice aisle. Or you can harvest the flowers when open and do the tweezing indoors.
  • To dry saffron, place it in an oven on low heat until the filaments are light and breakable. You can also lay them out on a table in a dry room, out of direct sun, for a few days to dry.

Colchicum

  • Colchicum are really not crocus at all, but a type of lily. They also have the common name Autumn Crocus.
  • Colchicum flowers emerge in fall, followed by the foliage which appears the next spring. 
  • Colchicums have larger-sized flowers than Crocus. They burst from the ground in September and October putting on quite a show when planted in groups.
  • Most Colchicums are hardy to USDA zone 5. The flowers are white, pink, blue, purple or rose, depending on the variety. The flowering is enhanced because each bulb will send up a bouquet of flowers on 5 to 10 stems. The flowers stand 6 to 8 inches tall, making a statement in the garden.

All About Fall Flowering Crocus & Colchicum: Extend Your Garden's Bloom Season

These fall flowering gems will add extra color to your garden when many other plants have passed. Plant the small flowered fall crocus in rock gardens, under trees, around shrubs, and in the ground to cover patches, or even scattered throughout your lawn!

If you plant in the lawn, let the foliage emerge and naturally yellow for about 4-6 weeks without mowing it. This will work fine in many colder areas, since the lawn is growing slowly in autumn.

In the flower garden, plant them where their colorful blossoms will pair nicely with other fall flowers such as sedum and dwarf aster.

The larger Colchicum bulbs can be planted in among evergreen ground covers and in the perennial border. They shine when planted among evergreen ground covers because their bright flowers contrast well with the foliage, and they're supported by the sturdy green groundcovers. Plus, the groundcovers prevent soil from splashing up onto the flowers, keeping them clean and looking beautiful until they fade.


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About the Author: Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden speaker, author, consultant, radio and TV show host. He delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. Visit his website, GardeningwithCharlie.com for how-to gardening information, and for more about Charlie.

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