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Classification, origin and description
Common name: Crocus
Typology: Perennials, Bulbose
Propagation: division of bulbs, seed
Etymology: The name of the genus comes from the Greek Krokos what does it mean "fabric thread"And refers to the long stigmas clearly visible in the best known species, Saffron Crocus sativus L.
The Crocus genus includes about 70-80 species, originating mostly from the Mediterranean basin. The ornamental Crocus, which are now offered on the market in many varieties, are the product of skilful crossbreeding obtained through centuries of work, largely derived from our own species and above all from C. vernus. Ornamental cultivation began in the early 17th century. Crocus are divided into two large groups: those that bloom between the end of winter and spring, and those with autumn flowering.
They have almost filiform, dark green, curved leaves, generally with a longitudinal streak in the center, silvery white. The leaves appear either at the same time or after the flowers. Some species have a delicate scent.
Crocus biflorus (photo www.edgewoodgardens.net)
Crocus imperati (photo www.alpinegarden-ulster.org.uk)
How it is grown
They prefer a sandy and well-drained soil, fertilized with leaf soil and very mature manure. They must be planted from September to December to have flowers; but if you want the bulbs to multiply, it is preferable to anticipate in September or October. the bulbs should be planted at a depth of 7-8 cm and spaced 5-8 cm in each direction, according to thickness. In colder climates they are covered with a light covering of straw or dead leaves. They can be left in the ground to multiply for 2-3 years, or the bulbs must be removed from the ground every year. This last operation must be done when the leaves are now all dry and easily detach. The large bulbs are separated from the bulbs (which will be replanted at the appropriate time in the seedling), cleaned by removing the dead roots, then dried in a sheltered and well-drained place.
They can also be grown in pots. Multiplication by seed is only done when new varieties are to be obtained. In this case, the seeds must be sown as soon as they are ripe in bowls that are buried up to the edge in a corner of the garden where they are left until the following spring, when germination takes place, covering the surface with dry leaves during the winter.
Crocus aureus (photo http://onaturzebezkomentarza.blox.pl)
Species and varieties
Winter and spring flowering species (January-April)
- Crocus imperati Tenor: species native to southern Italy where it grows in grassy places. It blooms in January-February, before the leaves develop. It has large, globular flowers: the petals outside are yellowish, veined with dark red, while inside light lilac, veined.
- Crocus biflorus Mill .: native to Asia Minor and Italy (rare in the North), it grows in grassy places. The flowers, medium in size, are white or white-lilac, streaked with purple or blue, medium in size; they appear in February-March together with the leaves. There are several varieties.
- Crocus vernus Boiss. Heldr .: species native to Southern France. The leaves develop with flowers, which vary in color from white to purple, but more frequently silver gray or lilac with petals almost always veined with purple. It blooms in February-April.
- Crocus aerus Sibth. Sm .: species native to Greece, Asia Minor and Romania. The flowers have a beautiful orange-yellow color and appear together with the first leaves in January-February. Many varieties have been created.
- Hybrid crocuses or Dutch crocuses: they are the most cultivated, with white, lilac, mauve, purple, orange or yellow flowers; many varieties have streaked flowers in various shades of purple, lilac and mauve. The flowers appear simultaneously with the first leaves. in June they enter vegetative rest.
Autumn flowering species (August-November)
- Crocus sativus L .: species native to southern Europe and Asia Minor. The flowers are large, generally lilac purple, but variable; they show off long and showy stigmas, orange red, from which saffron is obtained.
- Crocus speciosus Bieb .: species native to Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus. Up to 10 cm high, with large elongated globular flowers, ranging from blue to lavender, to blue-white. It blooms in August-October, before the leaves appear. There are numerous hybrids.
Diseases, pests and adversities
They are fairly rustic plants; there can be attacks of aphids and red spider mite and, among fungal diseases, botrytis and rot of the collar and root.