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Saffron is RED GOLD!

Updated on April 3, 2016

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,

And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,

And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire

Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

— ~Oscar Wilde

Crocus - tiny and beautiful

Crocus are some of the earliest and smallest of the spring flowers and belong to the iris (Iridaceae) family. They will commonly push their pretty little heads right up through the snow. This early variety is called a "snow crocus".

Once crocus bulbs are planted, they need very little care and they naturalize easily - which means they will multiply and come up flowering year after year. Most commonly they are yellow, white, or shades of blue/purple.

I've planted many crocus over the years and offer these basic tips for anyone who wants to spread the beauty. While you can plant just one color, mixing the white, yellow and shades of purple together offers a splendid panorama of color.

Growing Tips:

  • Crocus do best in full sun and well-drained soil that is moderately rich in organic matter
  • Should be planted in groupings of 6-10 bulbs
  • If planted in the borders, the treatment given to the other plants will benefit the crocus, but no individual treatment is needed
  • The blooms last a few weeks in the spring and the leaves left behind should not be mowed until they have dried up
  • Ideally, the site should be relatively dry in summer, when the bulbs go dormant. Continuous wetness will cause bulbs to rot

If you would like to see some of these spring beauties growing in your own yard or garden, plant bulbs 2-3 inches deep in the fall after the ground temperature is below 60 degrees. While crocus can be planted any time of the year, be aware that if the ground is moist and the temperature consistently above 60 degrees, they will begin to grow.

Near the side of my house, I had a hill that was very difficult to mow in the spring. It would become so wet from rain that any mowing was a dangerous prospect. I planted hundreds of various colored snow crocus bulbs on that hill, which faced south, and that hillside became a wildflower paradise. It was absolutely beautiful for a couple weeks in the spring.

You can find many more growing tips at:


Crocus are the plant source of saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.

Saffron Crocus

Saffron comes from the bright red-orange stamens produced by the crocus sativus which blooms in the fall. The flowers are hand picked by the thousands and the stamens plucked out of each flower. It takes such a huge quantity of flowers to produce a very small amount of spice that saffron is called "red gold".

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus - notice the 3 red-orange stamens used in the making of saffron
Saffron Crocus - notice the 3 red-orange stamens used in the making of saffron

Saffron - The Making of RED GOLD

BEWARE - A Deadly Imposter

The popular Autumn Crocus is actually not a true Crocus and is a member of the Lily family. A true Crocus has 3 stamens and the Autumn Crocus has 6 stamens so you can easily tell them apart. The Autumn Crocus is a highly poisonous plant, so don't confuse it with Crocus Sativa.

Spring flowers

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    • Sandi Kroeger profile image

      Sandi Kroeger 17 months ago from Minnesota, USA

      You are very welcome. Thank you for reading it. I was surprised about the imposter crocus myself!!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 17 months ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this look at where saffron comes from, and the warning!