14 Beautiful Crocus Varieties

'Ard Schenk' crocus flowers with white petals and yellow centers in soil from above

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

While some gardeners mark the vernal equinox on their calendar as a sort of unofficial start to the flower gardening season, those who plant their favorite crocus varieties may be rewarded a two full months earlier than that. Short on stature but big on charm, crocus flowers require little more than an undisturbed space in the landscape where they can gradually multiply into handsome colonies.

The Crocus genus comprises at least 90 species that grow from bulb-like corms. Of these, a relatively small group is commonly cultivated for garden use, including some that are spring bloomers: C. tommasinianus (snow crocus), C. vernus (Dutch crocus), and C. chrysanthus (golden crocus or snow crocus). There are also some fall-blooming crocus species, including C. sativus (saffron crocus).

Crocuses have been in cultivation since the 1500s, and there are hundreds of varieties available — consider these 14 crocus varieties for your garden.

Gardening Tip

In warmer growing zones, you won't have much luck growing crocuses by planting them in the ground in the fall, the way they do in the North. Like some other spring bulbs, crocus bulbs need a chilling period in order to flower. You can, however, grow crocuses as annual plants, planting fresh bulbs each year.


Most crocuses need 10–14 weeks at temperatures of 35–40 degrees. Create these conditions by storing crocus bulbs in a refrigerator beginning in late October and then planting them in the late winter for early spring bloom. Make sure not to store crocus bulbs near fruit, which gives off ethylene gas that damages the embryonic flowers inside the bulbs.

 

  • 01 of 14

    Snow Crocus (Crocus Tommasinianus)

    Snow crocus with lavender flowers

    Tina and Horst Herzig / Getty Images

    Gardeners have been enjoying this pale lavender heirloom since 1847. In the early morning light, snow crocus petals appear almost silvery, giving the flowers a luminous effect. Also known affectionately as "Tommies," Crocus tommasinianus is resistant to squirrels. The flowers open in the morning and close up at night, but, on cloudy, rainy days, they don't open at all. It's called snow crocus because it's among the first crocuses to open in spring.

    • Native Area: Southeastern Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 02 of 14

    'Pickwick' (Crocus vernus 'Pickwick')

    'Pickwick' crocus with purple and white petals

    James A. Guilliam / Getty Images

    As pert as a swatch of seersucker cloth, the 1925 heirloom 'Pickwick' crocus is perfect for forcing in pots so you can admire the delicate stripes up close. This is considered one of the giant spring crocuses, blooming in early April when the first daffodils bloom. 'Pickwick' is a very popular cultivar of C. vernus, a species that includes many varieties known collectively as Dutch crocuses, renowned for their large flowers.

    • Native Area: Alpine areas of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 03 of 14

    'Jeanne D'Arc' (Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc')

    'Jeanne D'Arc' crocus with white petals

    Dave G. Kelly / Getty Images

    The crisp white flowers of 'Jeanne D'Arc" look their best when naturalized in a lawn. Crocus flowers fare best in lawns that don't receive heavy summer irrigation, as they prefer to be on the dry side during dormancy. This is another Dutch crocus (C. vernus), which generally flowers slightly after the early snow crocuses.

    • Native Area: Alpine areas of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–7 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 04 of 14

    'Zenith' (Crocus vernus 'Zenith')

    'Zenith' crocus with blue flowers

    Paul Tomlins / Getty Images

    "Zenith" can mean the peak or a point in the sky above an observer. So, does this cultivar's name refer to the ethereal blue of its petals or the fact that it thrives in alpine climates? Either way, gardeners will agree that this recent Dutch introduction is a worthy addition to the spring garden. 

    • Native Area: Alpine areas of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    'Grand Maitre' (Crocus vernus 'Grand Maitre')

    'Grand Maitre' crocus with purple flowers

    Mandy Gehrisch / Getty Images

    The purple 'Grand Maitre,' a giant crocus, blooms a bit later than many other species, allowing you to stagger and extend bloom times. On sunny days, the petals open very wide, revealing the contrasting orange stamens within. 'Grand Maitre' corms will multiply in lawns if you leave the foliage until it withers, which usually happens about six weeks after flowering. 

    • Native Area: Alpine areas of Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 06 of 14

    'Skyline' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Skyline')

    'Skyline' crocus with purple petals

    Tim Smith / Getty Images

    'Skyline' has striated petals that resemble 'Pickwick,' only with a blue rather than purple tinge. This crocus isn't always available in the trade, but you may find it at online specialty nurseries and garden swaps. This is a cultivar of C. chrysanthus, another of those sometimes called snow crocuses. It's also sometimes called "golden crocus," since many varieties are golden yellow. 'Skyline' blooms very early, before the Dutch crocuses.

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 14

    'Gipsy Girl' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl')

    'Gipsy Girl' crocus with yellow petals

    Chris Burrows / Getty Images

    'Gipsy Girl' is the yellow crocus complement to 'Pickwick' and 'Skyline.' The first bees of spring will seek out these golden beacons in your garden. For best effect, plant this cheerful cultivar in naturalized drifts.

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 08 of 14

    'Romance' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance')

    'Romance' crocus with yellow petals

    Chris Burrows / Getty Images

    An early blooming Crocus chrysanthus, 'Romance' is the perfect shade of butter yellow, without a hint of orange. This petite variety, no more than 2–3 inches in height, looks best when planted in groups of 25 or more. For easy installation, dig a hole with your spade about 3 inches deep, and plant several together about 3 inches apart for a natural look. 

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 2–3 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    'Zwanenburg Bronze' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Zwanenburg Bronze')

    'Zwanenburg Bronze' crocus with gold petals

    Chris Burrows / Getty Images

    Unusual in the crocus world is the reddish tinge on the petals of 'Zwanenburg Bronze,' an early blooming variety. This crocus is more fragrant than most, so try it in raised beds or containers to bring the scent closer. 'Zwanenburg Bronze' is one of the easiest crocuses varieties to grow, and it naturalizes very easily.

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 10 of 14

    'Advance' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance')

    'Advance' crocus with bicolor petals

    Chris Burrows / Getty Images

    'Advance' is one of the earliest bloomers you'll find. By late spring, plants are dormant, making it an ideal variety to plant in lawns. Place the bulbs of this cultivar in sunny areas, as flowers will stay closed in shady areas as well as on cloudy days. 

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 11 of 14

    'Ard Schenk' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Ard Schenk')

    'Ard Schenk' crocus flowers with white petals and yellow centers closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    No one ever tires of the classic appeal white flowers, but, sometimes, a white crocus can disappear against a background of snow. 'Ard Schenk' solves that problem with a cheerful golden heart and orange anthers. 

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade 
  • 12 of 14

    'Cream Beauty' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty')

    'Cream Beauty' crocus with pale yellow flowers

    Gisela Rentsch / Getty Images

    At the intersection of snow white and lemon yellow lies 'Cream Beauty.' This variety is a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit, meaning it has proven itself to be a reliable performer in the garden. 

    • Native Area: Turkey, Balkans
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade 
    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus)

    Saffron crocus with purple petals

    Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    Dedicated cooks speak of the expensive and revered saffron in hushed tones, but this coveted spice is surprisingly easy to grow in the garden. Unlike many crocus types, Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus, is a fall bloomer. Plant the bulbs in the summer, and expect to see flowers about two months later. About 25 bulbs will yield enough saffron threads for one household. ​

    • Native Area: Unknown; possibly Greece
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6–8
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade 
  • 14 of 14

    'Firefly' (Crocus sieberi subsp. atticus 'Firefly')

    'Firefly' crocus with lavender and yellow petals

    Fiona Lea / Getty Images

    Can't decide whether to choose a yellow crocus or a purple variety? Get both hues in the perky 'Firefly' cultivar. This Mediterranean native appreciates the sharp drainage of rock gardens and may not perennialize in areas with clay soils

    • Native Area: Greece, Mediterranean
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade