It’s easy to plant crocus bulbs and they’ll bring lively shades of purple, blue, yellow and gleaming white to the yard with petals that shine out against their slender leaves and radiate joy and optimism. There’s also an array of flower shapes to marvel at, from the large goblet-style blooms of the Dutch species to the slender tube-like petals of the early crocus (Crocus tommasinianus). Whether you want them en masse in the lawn, among the trees, in casual clumps amongst other flower bed ideas, or in pots and planters, our guide has the details on when to plant crocus. 

When to plant crocus

To determine when to plant crocus, first choose whether you want to grow spring or fall-flowering varieties. The latter, although they look similar and are often referred to as fall or autumn crocuses, are actually Colchicums. Planted and treated in exactly the same way as spring flowering crocuses, they bring equal charm and character to the yard only later in the year.  Amber Williams from UK bulb specialists J Parkers (opens in new tab) says, ‘These bulbs and corms are quite small and should be planted in well-drained soil around two to three times their depth. That’s about 4 to 6in (10 to 15cm).’ Spring-flowering crocus – one of the best spring bulbs – should be planted in fall, while fall flowering Colchicums should be planted from late spring until the end of summer. ‘It is great to see the multicolored crocus appear in the spring after the white of the snowdrops,’ says John Amand of bulb specialists Jacques Amand Intl (opens in new tab). ‘Species like C. leavigatus fontenayii start in midwinter and then continue with the brightly colored chrysanthus types and the tommissanianus varieties, before the larger crocus vernus varieties come into flower. At the end of the year there are a selection of fall flowering varieties including the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus.’

When to plant spring flowering crocus

Plant spring-flowering crocus throughout the fall for a continuous display. Begin planting in September working through to November to guarantee an early spring show that will last for several weeks. This will encourage the dry dormant bulbs to put out and develop roots while the soil is still relatively warm, before colder temperatures arrive.

When to plant fall flowering crocus

Plant fall-flowering crocuses – or Colchicums – from late spring until the tail end of summer for fall and early winter color. Taller and perhaps slightly less graceful than the smaller spring crocus, these lilac blooms emerge from the ground with minimal or no noticeable leaves.

When is the best time to plant container grown crocus?

Spring-flowering crocus are definitely the most popular choice for containerized planting. Plant them from September to November and leave them outside or in a cold frame to develop strong roots before any shoots appear. Once the corms do show signs of sprouting, bring them into the warm for an early show or leave them outside to flower as the weather warms.

Can you plant crocus in the spring?

Crocus should be planted in the fall. However, you can plant Colchicums, which are referred to as fall or autumn crocuses, from late spring to late summer and they will flower in fall and early winter.