Cro­cus add spring spark

Early-flow­er­ing plants a joy

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Got your spring bulbs in yet? Con­sider cro­cus, a hardy, easyto-grow plant that her­alds the com­ing of the warmer months.

Cro­cuses are one of the ear­li­est bulbs to flower, ap­pear­ing in late win­ter or early spring, with ei­ther white, yel­low or pur­ple blooms.

They are minute plants, grow­ing just 10 to 15 cen­time­tres high, but they are enough to pull a gar­den out of the win­ter dol­drums with their bright jewel tones.

They flower well in cooler cli­mates, but not so well in warmer ones, need­ing a spell of cool weather to ini­ti­ate bloom­ing.

There are many species of cro­cus, though here in New Zealand we grow only a se­lect few.

Cro­cus chrysan­thus is one, Cro­cus ver­nus an­other, with a num­ber of cul­ti­vars from each. You can get an ex­tended show of blooms in your gar­den by plant­ing both; Cro­cus chrysan­thus cul­ti­vars bloom first, fol­lowed by Cro­cus ver­nus a few weeks later.

C. chrysan­thus ‘‘Blue Pearl’’ is a popular va­ri­ety, with light laven­der-blue flow­ers that have white on the in­side and a yel­low throat.

‘‘Cream Beauty’’ is an­other chrysan­thus type, this with cream pe­tals, a yel­low eye and a bright or­ange con­trast­ing sta­men.

It blends well with ‘‘Blue Pearl’’, as does ‘‘Prins Claus’’, a beau­ti­ful cro­cus with white pe­tals brushed with deep pur­ple mark­ings.

The lat­ter is gor­geous, one of my favourites, and es­pe­cially vi­brant against a back­ground of green. ‘‘Sunkist’’ has bright yel­low blooms.

Plant any one of th­ese, along with Cro­cus ver­nus types for ex­tended flow­er­ing.

A cou­ple of oth­ers to con­sider are Cro­cus sieberi ssp. at­ti­cus and Cro­cus bi­florus.

The for­mer has soft lilac blooms with yel­low eyes and is tol­er­ant of moist con­di­tions. ‘‘Fire­fly’’ is the most popular cul­ti­var of this species.

Even when its buds are closed, you still see yel­low at the bot­tom of the pe­tals and lilac at the top.

Cro­cus bi­florus has blooms in shades of lilac-blue. It grows well in dry, grav­elly soil, so it’s ideal for rock gar­dens. ‘‘Pu­rity’’ is pure white with a hint of yel­low at the base.

It’s your last chance to plant th­ese bulbs, so get them in the ground now.

They are tol­er­ant of a wide range of soils, but it must be free-drain­ing and in sun or par­tial shade.

They are best planted in groups, rather than the odd one dot­ted around the gar­den, to show them off to their best ad­van­tage.

Let them nat­u­ralise in the gar­den, un­der de­cid­u­ous trees or in lawns.

You can plant them in con­tain­ers too. Plant bulbs 5-8cm deep and 8-10cm apart.

How long a par­tic­u­lar cro­cus blooms and how well can be de­pen­dent on the weather.

On com­pletely clouded days your cro­cuses may not fully open, and if there is heavy rain for a pe­riod, they may get a lit­tle bat­tered.

How­ever, as cro­cuses tend to flower at dif­fer­ent times,where one cro­cus opens in a pe­riod of in­clement weather, an­other will open in a fine pe­riod.

In any case, the ar­rival of your cro­cus blooms is a sign that spring is on the way.

Plant cro­cus now.

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