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Planting Fall Bulbs

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August 16, 2019

We generally think of planting bulbs for spring flowering but there are great fall bulb plants today on Southern Gardening

One of the most recognizable spring bulb flowers are crocus.  But there are several fall blooming crocus worth taking a look.  The grass like leaves emerge after flowering and will remain until spring.  Plant about 2 inches deep and two inches apart in late summer for fall flowering.  They are hardy through Zones five to nine. 

Crocus speciosus flowering peaks in mid-autumn.  The flowers vary from blue violet to a mauve and are about 6 inches tall. 

Crocus kotschyanus has pale lilac flowers with yellow throats and is three to five inches tall. 

Crocus sativus is an interesting species that has culinary interest and is called the saffron crocus. The clear pastel violet flowers contain one of the most expensive spices in the world. Each flower will produce 3 showy red stigmas which are the source of saffron. It takes as many as 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron.

A fall bulb that is easily confused with Crocus is colchicum.  In fact both are sometimes called autumn crocus. 

Colchicum’s have large strap-like foliage with a more dainty flower that follows.  Colchicum speciosum has rose violet tulip shaped flowers that grow up to 12 inches tall.  Each bulb will produce multiple flower stems and they will readily multiply. 

Colchicum autumnale has pale pastel pink flowers that reach up to 6 inches tall. 

Plant colchicums in the late summer, 4 inches deep and four to six inches apart. 

Crocus and colchicum look great poking through leaves or a ground cover like sedum in the fall. 

I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

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