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A picture of a Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus

Crocus sativus

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Also known as

Saffron, St Valentine's Rose, Blood Of Thoth, Autumn Crocus

Full Sun
Moderate care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy

H6

RHS hardiness

-20°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

30cm

Max

10cm

5cm

Min

5cm

2 years to reach maturity

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images

A photo of Saffron Crocus
A photo of Saffron Crocus
A photo of Saffron Crocus

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Overview

Crocus sativus is an autumn flowering corm that produces goblet-shaped, lilac-purple coloured blooms. Saffron - a precious spice for flavouring and colouring food - is obtained from the long, bright red, stigma and styles in the centre of the flower. (Hence Crocus sativus's common names, among others, Saffron and Saffron Crocus.) Outside, grow Crocus sativus in a sunny position. It needs well-drained, poor to moderately fertile soil that is neutral to alkaline. Plant corms with the pointed end up at a depth of 10cm and only water once - at planting time - as they will rot if kept in damp conditions. Indoors, plant under glass in a free-draining growing medium, feed monthly and water regularly in the growing season but keep dry in summer, during dormancy.

Common problems

Mice and moles may feed on the corms. While in storage (dormant) the corms are susceptible to rots and moulds.

    Companion plants

    Saffron crocus make a bold color accent in fall herb gardens, and are an excellent companion plant for sweet peppers, squash, pumpkins, parsley, rosemary, and thyme

    A photo of Rosemary

    Rosemary

    Salvia rosmarinus

    A photo of Thyme

    Thyme

    Thymus vulgaris

    Harvesting

    Flowers open with daylight and are harvested in the early morning before the flowers wilt. The stigmas and styles are removed by hand and then dried.

    Propagation

    Division

    Corms can be divided in the dormant season (summer).

    Special Features

    Attractive flowers

    The flowers grow near the soil and are a beautiful lilac colour.

    Uses

    Edible

    The stigmas and styles of the flowers are edible. Saffron is considered to be the most valuable spice by weight.