Plant Autumn Crocus for Late-Season Blooms

Updated: Jul. 24, 2023

Keep your garden growing into fall with autumn crocus, a late-season bloom with plenty of interest. Here's how to add the bulbs to your yard.

Boost Your Backyard’s Fall Color With Autumn Crocus

For gardeners, the end of summer can be a difficult time. Depending where you live, those vibrant midsummer colors might’ve faded—and fall, while wonderful, just doesn’t offer the same neon brilliance. Thankfully, for those looking to keep their garden growing in the late season, there’s a perfect plant to pick: autumn crocus. Here, our garden expert explains how you can make autumn crocus part of your fall landscape.

Check out the 4 types of flower bulbs that gardeners should grow.

What Does Autumn Crocus Look Like?

autumn crocusCourtesy James Lenfield

“This flower (above) blooms in late summer. Can you identify it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader James Lenfield.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: Your mystery plant is commonly called autumn crocus, although it is actually a Colchicum. The bulbs are planted in late summer or early fall and produce flowers in fall that same year. (Psst—find out when you should plant lily bulbs).

The following spring, the bulbs sprout 6- to 8-inch leaves that grow for about six to eight weeks and then die to the ground. In late summer or early fall, the flowers appear. The leafless blooms add unexpected delight to the late-season garden.

These are the top 10 fall-blooming perennial flowers.

autumn crocusCourtesy Tamara Dibartola

“We came across this tulip-like purple flower (above) at a cemetery. What is it?” asks reader Tamara DiBartola.

Melinda: This fall bloomer is commonly known as autumn crocus and botanically as Colchicum. It grows leaves in spring that die back after a month or two. Then, in fall, these small leafless flowers appear. You want to purchase these from a bulb company, where you will find several varieties for sale.

Plant autumn crocus bulbs in late summer or early fall and watch the flowers appear soon after planting. Grow these bulbs with annual or perennial flowers, in mixed borders or among ground covers. Select a location where the spring leaves can be appreciated and not detract from the surrounding plantings.

Next get care tips for spring-blooming crocus flowers.