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Saffron Crocus Growing Guide

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What is Saffron Crocus?

Saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) is a bulbous perennial that is well known for its culinary attributes. It is part of the Iridaceae or iris family and is native to Western Asia. In Autumn saffron crocus produces lilac flowers with dark purple ‘veins’ on the petals. The prize of these flowers are the three stamens which provide the saffron. These should be harvested straight after the flowers open early in the morning. Flowers only last for a day or two days. The bulb will flower over a four week period. If you wish to harvest the saffron threads (the crimson-coloured flower stigmas), use a pair of tweezers to remove them as soon as the flowers open. Allow threads to dry in a shaded, well-ventilated area for 4-5 days, then store in an airtight container. Saffron crocus has foliage that is grey green in colour and is grass like. They should be planted in full sun with well drained soil.

Benefits of Growing Saffron Crocus

Saffron crocus are easy to grow, simply plant and leave. They will easily naturalise in the garden and will multiply fairly quickly. The crimson saffron stigmas are highly prized and used in cooking and as a dye.

How to Grow Saffron Crocus

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Saffron Crocus

Climatic Zones

Cold, temperate, arid.

Plant Size

Height: 10cm, Width: 5-10cm

When To Plant Saffron Crocus

Plant in late Summer.

Soil Preparation

The soil must be well drained. Poor soil can be improved by digging through organic matter before planting. Use only a small amount of Blood and Bone or a complete fertiliser when planting.

How To Plant Saffron Crocus

Plant in full sun to light shade, 15cm apart with the bulb 7 to 10cm below the surface of the soil.

Saffron Crocus Plant Care

Whilst bulbs are actively growing keep the soil moist. When dormant, allow the soil to dry out.

Top dress annually in Summer just before the growing period with some general fertiliser or bulb food.

Bulbs can stay in the ground from one year to the next without needing to be disturbed. They should only be dug up when they become too crowded as flowering will begin to suffer. This should be done every three to four years when the plant is dormant.