Have the crocuses started coming up in your yard? Mine have. I just love these little flowers. They're usually the first sign that winter is almost over. There are about 80 different species of crocuses. They are native to Europe, North Africa, Greece, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The word, "crocus" comes from an Arabic word meaning "saffron yellow."
Crocuses have cup shaped flowers that taper into a narrow tube. They come in an assortment of colors, but the most popular are lilac, mauve, yellow, and white. They also have thin, grass-like leaves. Usually when you see crocuses in garden catalogues, they're listed in two categories: Giant Dutch Crocuses, and Snow Crocuses . (These include everything that is not a Giant Dutch Crocus.)
So what's the difference? Giant Dutch Crocuses are, well, bigger. They're about 4-6 inches tall. The Snow Crocus, on the other hand, has a smaller bulb, and therefore has smaller flowers. The plus side for the Snow Crocus, is that it has more flowers per bulb, and that it blooms two weeks earlier than the Giant Dutch Crocus.
Both catagories prefer sun and well-drained soil. The Giant Dutch Crocuses are good in zones 4-8. Plant them at least 4 inches deep. The Snow Crocuses are good in zones 3-9. Plant them at least 3 inches deep. Crocuses are great for naturalizing, and for use in rock gardens. Since they multiply yearly, you will probably have to separate the bulbs every couple of years.