If you intend growing just a few crocuses in your lawn, plant each one individually using a small trowel or dibber to cut through the turf. Cover each corm with a little less than its own depth of soil to allow for the thickness of the turf.
The tops of the corms should end up about 2in below the surface and 3in apart.
If you are planning a large expanse of crocuses, remove a thin layer of turf across the whole area, plant the corms and relay the turf. Don’t set them in orderly ranks. Instead, scatter them gently over the prepared soil and plant them where they land.
Plant autumn-flowering varieties during late July or early August, and the spring-flowering kinds during September and October.
Image Credit: wwarby
Best varieties of crocus
Crocus tomasinianus is the first choice for planting in grass. Its starry lilac flowers open in January or February, bringing colourful relief after the winter. It is one of the fastest-spreading crocuses, too. As well as the mauv-ish-blue species, there are several named varieties such as ‘Barrs Purple’, ‘Whitwell Purple’ and the rich port-wine ‘Taplow Ruby’ that will naturalise well in the bank.
To add a regal touch, plant some of the large Dutch varieties such as: ‘Remembrance’, purple-blue; ‘Pickwick’, silver and lilac stripes; and ‘Golden Yellow’, the best of the large-flowered Dutch yellows.
If they are left undisturbed in the grass, they will gradually increase into dense clumps. It is important to allow all these spring-flowering crocuses to have some leaf growth after flowering, in order to build up new corms for the following year, before you mow them along with the grass. If possible, delay mowing until late spring when the crocus leaves have withered.
For autumn interest, plant Crocus speciosus. Its 4in high bright lilac-blue flowers open between August and October. It too, multiplies quickly, and there are several colour varieties such as the pure white ‘Albus’, the violet-coloured ‘Pollux’ and the dark blue ‘Oxonian’.
|C. chrysanthus||Deep yellow to bright orange||3in||Feb|
|C. chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’||Pale blue||3in||Feb|
|C. chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’||Cream||3in||Feb|
|C. chrysanthus *E.A. Bowies’||Yellow and bronze||3in||Feb|
|C. chrysanthus ‘Snow Bunting’||White||3in||Feb|
|C. susianus||Deep orange||3in||Feb-Mar|
|C. tomasinianus ‘Whitwell Purple’||Purple-mauve||3 in||Jan-Feb|
|Crocus kotschyanus (C. zonatus)||Rose-lilac||3in||Aug-Sept|
|C. medius||Lilac and purple-mauve||3in||Oct-Nov|
|C. speciosus||Bright lilac-blue||4in||Aug-Oct|
|C. speciosus ‘Oxonian’||Dark blue||4in||Aug-Oct|
Saving crocus from mice
There is no perfect method of preventing the mice digging through the soil to get the corms. A method that often works, however is to make the corms inedible by tainting them with paraffin. Sprinkle some sand with a little paraffin, and rub the corms in the sand for a few minutes before planting them as usual. The smell will discourage the mice while it lasts – usually for about a year.
Corms planted in turf can be protected for longer. The method here is to cover the soil below the turf with small-mesh galvanised wire – the kind used for rabbit hutches. Lift the grass and plant the corms as you would normally. Then, before replacing the turf, lay mesh across the whole area planted with corms and extend it about a foot beyond the edges. Mice will find it difficult to burrow round the edge of the wire – and your corms should be safe for at least 15 years, until the wire disintegrates.