Plant Profile: Autumn Crocus (Colchicum)
You know it's officially autumn when "Naked Ladies" start appearing in your garden! No, we're not talking about nude gardeners, but the autumn crocus. This perennial plant is sometimes called "Naked Lady" because the leaves appear in the spring, long before it flowers in the fall.
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum) is a large genus of perennial plants native to West Asia, Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. It is cultivated for its beautiful, showy flowers that emerge from corms, fleshy bulb-like structures. The flowers are typically goblet-shaped, but there are some cultivars that are star-shaped. Flowers come in shades of pink, violet, purple, lavender and white. Sizes of flowers range from 2 inches to 8 inches across. Leaves are long, and strapped-shaped.
Despite its common name and similar looking flowers, the autumn crocus is not related to the true crocus (which flowers in the spring). The Autumn Crocus is a must-have for the fall garden, adding colour and beauty without much effort! Plus, these perennials will bloom every year and get bigger and better with age! Corms are available for purchase late in the summer and early autumn at garden centers.
Plant in rich, well-drained soil in sun or light shade. Bulbs should be planted between July and August. Plant bulbs 4-9 inches deep. Space bulbs about 9 inches apart. Bulbs will flower 3-4 weeks after being planted, usually from September to November. Plants can be divided in the summer. As beautiful as these flowers are, it's best to keep them away from small children and pets. All parts of the colchicum, including the leaves, corm and seeds, are considered poisonous. Climate Zones: 4-9