14 Beautiful Crocus Varieties

Field of Crocus

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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 is comprised of at least 90 species of plants that grow from bulb-like corms. Of these, a relatively small group are commonly cultivated from 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 many hundreds of varieties available. Here are 14 good types to consider for your garden.

Gardening Tip

In warmer growing zones, you will not have much luck growing tulips by planting them in the ground in the fall, the way your northern friends and relatives do it. 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 to 14 weeks at temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can create these conditions yourself by storing crocus bulbs in a refrigerator beginning in late October, then planting them in the late winter for early spring bloom. Make sure not to store crocus bulbs near fruit, since it gives off ethylene gas that will damage the embryonic flowers inside the bulbs.

 

  • 01 of 14

    Snow Crocus (Crocus Tommasinianus)

    Snow Crocus, Crocus tommasinianus
    Photo: Tina and Horst Herzig/Getty Images

    Gardeners have been enjoying this pale lavender heirloom since 1847. In the early morning light, 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 do not open at all. This plant is called snow crocus because it is 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 part shade

  • 02 of 14

    'Pickwick' (Crocus vernus 'Pickwick')

    Pickwick Crocus
    Photo: 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. 'Pickwick' is considered to be 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 crocus, known for their large flowers.

    Native Area: Alpine areas of Europe

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–8

    Height: 4–6 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 03 of 14

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

    Jeanne D Arc Crocus
    Photo: Dave G. Kelly/Getty Images

    The crisp white flowers of 'Jeanne D'Arc" look their best when naturalized in a lawn. Crocus flowers planted in lawns fare best in lawns that do not 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 part shade

  • 04 of 14

    'Zenith' (Crocus vernus 'Zenith')

    Zenith Crocus
    Photo: Paul Tomlins/Getty Images

    Zenith can mean the peak or a point in the sky above an observer. Does 'Zenith' refer to the ethereal blue of this crocus, or to 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 part shade

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    'Grand Maitre' (Crocus vernus Grand Maître)

    Grand Maitre Crocus
    Photo: Mandy Gehrisch/Getty Images

    The shy violet 'Grand Maitre' giant crocus blooms a bit later than many other species, allowing you to stagger and extend bloom times. On sunny days, the petals of 'Grand Maitre' open very wide, revealing the attractive 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 part shade

  • 06 of 14

    'Skyline' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Skyline')

    Skyline Crocus
    Photo: Tim Smith/Getty Images

    'Skyline' has striated petals that resemble 'Pickwick,' only with a blue rather than purple tinge. This crocus is not 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 the species sometimes called snow crocuses. It is also sometimes known as golden crocus, since many varieties are golden yellow. This is another species that 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 part shade

  • 07 of 14

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

    Gipsy Girl Crocus
    Photo: 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 it in naturalized drifts.

    Native Area: Turkey, Balkans

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–8

    Height: 3–4 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 08 of 14

    'Romance' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance')

    Romance Crocus
    Photo: Chris Burrows/Getty Images

    An early blooming Crocus chrysanthus, 'Romance' is the perfect shade of butter yellow, without a hint of orange. 'Romance' is a petite variety, no more than 2 to 3 inches in height, and 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 part shade

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

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

    Zwanenburg Bronze Crocus
    Photo: 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. This is one of the easiest crocuses to grow; it naturalizes very easily.

    Native Area: Turkey, Balkans

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–8

    Height: 3–4 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • 10 of 14

    'Advance' (Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance')

    Advance Crocus
    Photo: 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. Plant 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 part shade

  • 11 of 14

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

    Ard Schenk
    Photo: Chris Burrows/Getty Images

    No one ever tires of the classic appeal of 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 part shade 

  • 12 of 14

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

    Cream Beauty Crocus
    Photo: 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 part shade 

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus)

    Saffron Crocus
    Photo: 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 part shade 

  • 14 of 14

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

    Firefly Crocus
    Photo: 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 part shade