Small flowers widespread in nature in Europe and Asia, and throughout the Mediterranean area, crocuses have been cultivated for centuries; the genus has about eighty species, and innumerable cultivars, widespread as garden plants.
Most crocuses bloom between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, as soon as the days get longer, even when the climate is not entirely favorable; in fact, it is not uncommon to find an expanse of crocus flowers that emerge from under the snow in the middle of the winter at the edge of the woods. Few species bloom in autumn, while usually the "crocus" that we find in the woods in October are colchici, plants with a flower similar to that of the crocus, but not related to it.
Some species of crocuses bloom even before producing leaves, others instead produce the leaves well before flowering; they have a small bulb-tuber, enclosed in a papyrus membrane, from which long flowers are produced, which start with a thin almost filiform cylinder that widens in a cup, opening into six enlarged tepals, white, lilac or yellow.
The crocus leaves are present in a number of 3-5 for each corm, they are linear, more or less long like the flower, divided in half by a groove; the leaves are dark green, the groove is white, very showy.
The dimensions of the crocuses are generally minute, ranging from 5 to 25-30 cm in height.
How to grow them
Crocuses in Italy are present with many species also in nature; most of the species and varieties used in cultivation are suitable for forestation, so we can place them in the garden, in the ground, and from year to year we will always have new flowers, without the corms needing care.
They prefer slightly calcareous soils, and quite sunny positions, even if generally they develop well even in partial shade.
They are winter resting plants; therefore they develop from the end of winter, when the bulb-tubers begin to produce leaves and flowers. Subsequently, some species only grow for a few weeks, while others continue to grow until autumn, repeating flowering over time, or producing flowers only in September-October.
The most common species in the nursery usually bloom in late winter, and go into vegetative rest from the first heat, towards the end of spring.
At the beginning of the vegetative rest the foliage turns yellow and dries up, and the corm goes into total vegetative rest until the following spring; during the rest period these bulbs do not need any care; however, they fear excessive humidity, especially in this period, which could lead to the rotting of small corms.
Over time, the bulb-tuber of the crocus produces small bulbils, from which new plants will be produced; therefore planting even a few crocuses, over time we will find ourselves with an increasing number of flowers. If we wish to contain the number, every 3-4 years, after the crocus specimens have entered vegetative rest, we remove the soil in the areas where we have planted them, and remove the smallest or ruined corms, positioning as we wish the most big and vigorous.