It has been a cold winter in the mid-west, and we’ve had snow on the ground for three months. In early February, spring still feels like a century away. That’s why I planted snow crocus in the pathway from my front door to the driveway. By the first of February (or sooner) I start looking down around the stepping stones for signs of new life. They look like little clusters of tiny green brushes. Finding them, I take a deep breath and smile. Hope is rising. Spring is on its way!
But the real hope comes when the first blooms appear. It was the last day of February this year. My husband spotted them first: clusters of yellow buds poking out of the snow.
By the end of the day the snow was gone and the buds had opened. (The blooms look like mini bouquets scattered on the ground.) After months of being cooped up inside, those little blooms make the rest of winter seem more bearable. We have hope now…spring will soon be here!
If you want your own little spring bouquets of hope, here’s some things you might like to know. First, like most plants, there is more than one king of crocus. They vary in size of bloom and when they bloom. There are both spring flowering and fall flowering crocus, but I have only grown the spring varieties. Crocus come in various shades of white, yellow, blue, and purple. You can get solid colored or bi-colored blooms. The cheapest way to purchase crocus is to buy a mixed bag of colors, but you can buy them all in one color for a little more money.
Crocus reproduce through the formation of bulbs. Like many spring-flowering bulbs, they require a period of cold weather to force the bulbs to sprout and mature in spring. If you live in an area where winters are warm, you would need to force the bulbs by putting them in the refrigerator in a dark container for several weeks. If you live where winters are cold, you will need to obtain and plant the bulbs in the fall.
I have not been able to purchase snow crocus bulbs locally. There are plenty of crocus bulbs for sale at my local Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware store, but these are the giant crocus, a beautiful variety with larger flowers that bloom later than the snow crocus. I highly recommend the giant crocus, but if you want the hope that comes from seeing those tiny blooms peeking out from a late winter’s snow, then you need to find some snow crocus.
I find my snow crocus in seed and plant catalogs. Many plant companies publish these catalogs and send them to customers free of charge. Once you’re on their mailing list you will keep getting them season after season. (I love to look through them, find new varieties, and dream about the potential for additions to my own garden.) These companies also have websites, and you can often find deals on-line that you won’t find in the catalogs. If you do a search, I am sure you will find many companies that sell snow crocus. The companies that I have purchased snow crocus from in the past are: Jung Seeds and Plants, McClure & Zimmerman, Breck’s, and Van Bourgondien.
When the bulbs arrive you should keep them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them. The bulbs are small, ranging from a large pea-size to the diameter of a dime. Most will be somewhere between these two sizes. Planting instructions will be included with the packaging. It will tell you how deep to plant the bulbs.
If you wait to plant the bulbs, you may find that tiny little projections have started to grow from the top and sides of the bulbs. These are the sprouts that will continue to grow during the winter while the bulbs are in the ground.
When the crocus have finished blooming in the spring, their grass-like leaves will grow a little taller. Then the leaves will flop over and turn brown within a few weeks. I like to plant seeds or small plants around these clusters, so that by the time the crocus leaves have completely disappeared, other plants fill in the spaces.
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