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Connecticut Garden Journal: Autumn Crocuses

Natalia Wilson
Creative Commons

With all the hot weather this week, it's hard to think about planting for spring. Heck, I'm still swimming! But October is bulb planting time and one of the beauties is the crocus.

Crocuses are very rewarding. They bloom early with bright, cheery colors and spread over time. They can be grown in a formal flower garden, or naturalized in a meadow or orchard.

Traditional varieties, such as Ruby Giant and Pickwick, feature purple or purple and white flowers. I like the yellow-flowered varieties such as Golden Beauty and Romance.

The key to getting a big color splash is to plant lots of crocuses close together.

Dig a hole and plant bulbs that are almost touching -- about two to three inches deep. 

You can also mix crocuses with daffodils and tulips. In the same hole, plant the large bulbed daffodils six to eight inches deep, and cover with soil. Plant the medium sized tulips four inches deep and cover. Finally, plant the crocus on top of those bulbs. You'll get a succession of blooms stretching into spring.

If planting in a lawn or meadow, don't mow too early. Bulbs need their foliage to grow and rejuvenate the bulb for the next spring. Don't mow the bulb patch until the foliage starts to yellow in early summer.

Critters can be a problem. Mice, voles, and chipmunks love to dig up and munch on newly planted crocuses. To help thwart them, sprinkle ground-up seashells into the hole when planting. The critter won't like the sharp edges.

For deer browsing in spring, spray with a repellent such as Plantskydd when the bulbs first appear.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about winter squash. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

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