When to plant crocus bulbs: Key date to plant for ‘early winter colour’

Monty Don explains how to encourage growth of wildflowers

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Crocuses are packed full of pollen and are particularly beneficial when they flower in early spring. But while these stunning blooms are most commonly grown to brighten up the garden towards the end of winter, they can also be grown in autumn for a splash of colour in a bland space. So when exactly should you plant them for “early winter colour”?

When to plant crocuses

According to gardener and writer Sarah Raven, crocus corms intended for an early spring display should be planted in autumn, between September and November.

However, autumn-flowering crocuses can be planted from corms even earlier on in the year.

In fact, now is the perfect time to do it if you’re looking to brighten up your garden this winter.

Sarah Raven said: “You can plant autumn-flowering crocuses and colchicums in late summer for autumn and early winter colour.”

Autumn crocus corms planted in August should flower between September and October, according to Gardeners’ World.

It explained that this variety works best in naturalised grass, under trees, or at the front of borders to really brighten up your garden.

Sarah Raven added: “Crocuses are happy in thick turf with the sun fully on them, so pick your location well.

“Then cut the grass before planting in September, October or November. You’ll see the flowering crocus much more clearly with the grass cut short.”

This perennial flower can also be grown in pots which is a good way of working out which varieties you like best before planting them directly into your garden.

Sarah Raven recommended planting autumn crocus in pots a little later in September rather than starting at the end of August.

Pot-grown crocuses can be planted right up until November too, so you can enjoy flowers both in autumn and early-spring

The best thing about crocuses is that they can be planted directly outdoors throughout the sowing season as they are very hardy.

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How to grow crocuses

Crocuses are very easy to grow and require little in the way of care once planted.

However, they will struggle to bloom without the right soil or planting depth.

Sarah explained that crocuses are happy in gritty, well-drained soil that is poor to moderately fertile, though leafy soil types are best.

For flowers grown in the ground, use a bulb planter to punch 20 or 30 holes into the planting site, aiming for a natural spread.

Sarah noted the importance of measuring the holes to ensure they are 8-10cm deep and about 10cm apart.

She said: “Once you’re happy with the pattern, add 1.5cm of spent compost in the bottom of the hole.

“Then place an individual crocus corm on top and add another 1.5cm of compost over that.”

For potted crocuses, depth is very important in order to help the flowers bloom.

Always plant crocuses 8-10cm deep and use peat-free compost to fill the container.

According to Sarah, it is best to plant crocuses in pots at twice the density, and spaced at half the width of ground-grown flowers.

They should be crammed into the pot until each bulb is almost touching, but not quite.

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