Meadow Saffron SEEDS, Common Autumn Crocus, Colchicum autumnale

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Meadows, woodlands beds. Good for pockets in the landscape where spring and summer plants are fading. Good around patios or along walks. Plant with low ground covers which may help support weak flower stems. Generally inappropriate for prominent parts of beds or borders because of the unsightly appearance of the spring foliage as it yellows and declines on its way toward summer dormancy. Colchicum autumnale, commonly called autumn crocus or meadow saffron, is a cormous perennial that typically blooms in early fall. Plants send up only foliage (5-8 lanceolate dark green leaves to 10" long) in spring. Foliage gradually yellows and dies by early summer when the plants go dormant. Naked flower stems (1-6 stems per sheath) rise from the ground to 6-10” tall in late summer to early fall, each stem bearing a star-shaped, lavender-pink to lilac-pink flower. Fall flowers have no foliage, hence the sometimes used additional common name of naked ladies for this plant. Medicinal colchicum and colchicine come from the corms and seeds. The common name of autumn crocus is somewhat misleading because autumn crocus (Colchicaceae family but formerly included in Liliaceae family) is not closely related to spring crocus (Iridaceae family). Among the differences, the flowers of autumn crocus have six stamens and the flowers of spring crocus have three stamens.
  • Sow seeds at any time covering them with compost or grit 5mm deep, keeping the seed pot in a cool, well-lit spot outdoors. Artificial heat is not needed and can prevent germination so be very patient as many species will only germinate in the spring after chilling or freezing in the moist seed tray in the winter. Grow on individual seedlings in small pots until of sufficient size to be potted on or planted out into the open ground.

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