Grow a great crocus
By: Garden Gate staff
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Looking for one of the first crocuses to flower in late winter? Check out Tommies crocus. Its perky flowers open from silvery buds and can last for three weeks in cool weather. The color can vary from the pale lavender in the photo to deep lilac with a white center. But it isn’t just another pretty face. It also happens to be very rodent-resistant — chipmunks and squirrels leave it alone. Perfect for gardeners with critter problems! There are some subtle variations in flower color with this beautiful bulb. Click ahead for some options and to learn more about how to grow this little charmer.
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Southern gardeners love Tommies because it’s one of the few crocus species that come back every year in USDA cold-hardiness zones 7 and 8. Most others survive there just a year or two. Not bad for a bulb that’s also cold-hardy in zone 3! (It’s actually a corm, but most people lump it in with other bulbs.)
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How to plant
Tough enough to come up through grass or ground cover every year, Tommies spreads out gradually. Of course, a rock garden or mixed border of spring-blooming bulbs and perennials is a great way to enjoy Tommies, as well. Or put it in any full sun to part shade spot that you’ll see in late winter.
Simply plant the corms in fall 3 to 4 in. apart and 2 to 3 in. deep. They’ll multiply, filling an area quickly both by producing new bulbs around the existing ones and by self-sowing. Like most bulbs, it prefers well-drained soil. So if your soil is very heavy, work in lots of compost before you plant.
You don’t have to divide Tommies but if you want to share it with friends or grow it in other areas of your garden, just divide the clump in fall.
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Late winter and early spring weather can be temperamental and unpredictable in the best of years. It’s nice to have such a reliable little splash of color to start your garden off right!
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Blooms Pale lavender flowers in late winter to early spring
Size 3 to 6 in. tall, 1 to 4 in. wide
Light Full sun to part shade
Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 8
Heat-tolerant AHS zones 8 to 1