Crocus Flower Growing Tips You Need to Know

A crocus flower poking out of the snow is a welcome early sign of spring for gardeners. Learn when to plant crocuses and how they help bees.

Crocus Flower Care

crocus flowerCourtesy Deb Brokaw
After a cold winter, crocuses are some of the first flowers to bloom.

In late winter, keep your eyes peeled for purple, yellow and white crocus flowers poking out of a bed of mulch or beneath a snowy blanket. Plant large drifts of corms in fall for stunning color the next season. This small plant gets lost on its own, so plant crocuses in bulk for best impact. They can even be planted in lawns for naturalization. Space a few inches apart, about 3 to 4 inches deep with the pointed end of the crocus flower bulb up.

Crocus ancyrensis is the earliest bloomer. Plant the cultivar Little Tommies (C. tommasinianus) if you’ve had trouble with squirrels digging up your bulbs in the past. They will likely leave this variety of crocus alone.

  • Common name: Crocus
  • Scientific name: Varieties include Crocus ancyrensis and C. tommasinianus
  • Zones 3 to 8
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: Well-drained soil (bulbs will rot in soggy soil)
  • Bloom time: In warmer zones, as early as late January or early February, a little later further north.
  • Planting time: Fall, before a hard freeze

Learn how and when to plant tulip bulbs.

When to Plant Crocus Flower Bulbs

crocus flowerCourtesy Tracy Freeman
Plant crocuses in fall for early spring blooms.

Plant bulbs once the nighttime temperature drops to a consistent 40 to 50 degrees. Bulbs like daffodils, crocus and alliums all need a full winter in the ground. Plant the bulbs two to three times their height deep and then fertilize.

One of the reasons crocus bulbs are so popular is that they pop up at the first sign of spring, needing little to no maintenance. You can just sit back and enjoy their color peeking out of the snow.

Check out 5 deer-resistant bulbs for spring blooms.

Pollinator Benefits

Bnbbyc17 Lisa VokounCourtesy Lisa Vokoun
Honeybee on crocus flowers

Start off spring with a burst of color in the landscape and nectar for the bees. Crocus flowers are known for their strong scent, so they often attract the first bees and other pollinators that emerge from hibernation in early spring.

“I was taking pictures of my spring crocuses and suddenly one of the honeybees we raise on our property decided to step into the picture to collect pollen,” says Birds & Blooms reader Lisa Vokoun.

Next, learn how to grow grape hyacinth flowers.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for pollinators in her backyard gardens. She also is an avid bird-watcher.