The gentle kings of spring, crocuses are one of the most anticipated early flowers. Crocus meadows in gardens and parks look charming. But you can admire their beauty not only on a walk and not necessarily in spring. Crocuses are great for forcing and indoor growing and are considered the best plant species to start with indoor bulbs. If you carefully observe the temperature regimes and avoid mistakes in watering, the bright bloom of miniature stars will transform the windowsills for several unforgettable weeks.
Indoor crocuses – forcing and home care
A touching bloom of indoor crocuses
Among the whole family Irisovs (Iridaceae) not to find a plant as valuable as saffron. These corms are famous not only for the fact that their stigmas are the most expensive spice on the planet, but also for their unique beauty, which is even brighter in the room format.
For growing in a room culture, large-flowered hybrid crocus varieties of any natural flowering time (both spring and autumn) are most often chosen, including spring crocuses (Crocus vernus), golden (Crocus chrysanthus) and sowing (Crocus sativus). White, yellow and lilac-pink variations of delicate watercolor colors can be chosen to your taste.
Saffron, or Crocuses (Crocus) in height will not exceed 12 cm at the peak of flowering. Corms are round, up to 3 cm in diameter. Crocus stems are short, reduced. Basal leaves, covered with thin scales from below, develop simultaneously with flowering or after it. Dark, linear and tough, they look more elegant in a potted format than against the soil in the garden.
Single cup-shaped crocus flowers with a large perianth and a corolla divided into six oval lobes need no introduction. With a diameter of up to 7,5-10 cm, they seem huge against the background of leaves. Stamens with erect anthers and filiform column with three stigmas emphasize the special tenderness of the flower. As well as the translucent texture of the petals with a play of shining veins.
At home, the formation of a three-nested capsule of fruit is usually not expected.
In nature, crocuses bloom in spring and autumn, but in a room format, when the conditions of the dormant period are recreated, they can be made to bloom for the New Year or spring holidays. For early winter periods of flowering, early varieties are more suitable, for spring it is better to look for medium and late ones.
Planting material is the key to success
For indoor cultivation, use the largest, with a diameter of at least 2 cm, adult corms – an elite, selected planting material. The easiest way is to purchase special crocuses for distillation, which have been specially trained and will bloom faster, but ordinary crocuses for the garden are also suitable. Purchased corms are kept cool before planting, at a temperature of about 16-17 degrees, in a dark place.
If you are digging your garden plants, then the strongest corms should be sampled in mid-June. Drying for 2 weeks in a warm (21-32 degrees), sorting, disinfection in a fungicide solution is all that is needed before storing the bulbs in a cool, ventilated place in boxes or paper bags. With an early planting, the storage temperature is from 9 to 17 degrees, with a decrease at the end, with a late one – about 17 degrees.
Only healthy, undamaged, high-quality corms are suitable for forcing. Before planting, they must be carefully examined and re-etched in a weak solution of a fungicide (potassium permanganate or a systemic drug). Corms of the same size are planted in one pot.
Read also our article Timing and rules for forcing bulbous.
Planting, containers and substrate
For flowering in February, crocuses are planted in pots in early October. For winter flowering, the planting is shifted until mid-September, for March – it is delayed until November 15.
Crocuses are not grown one at a time. Even in the rooms, they are planted in groups of 5 plants. Depending on the size of the pot or drawer, the groups can be either large or compact. There are only two requirements for containers – drainage holes and not too great depth (the norm is 3-4 onion heights).
For growing in a pot format, you need to select a nutritious and light soil mixture. The easiest way is to purchase a special substrate for forcing bulbs. At home, you can create a soil mixture yourself:
- combining in equal parts coarse sand and high-quality compost with the addition of a small amount of perlite;
- mixing sod, leafy soil, peat and sand in equal parts (half of the sand can be replaced with perlite);
- adding sand or perlite to the universal substrate (1: 1).
Drainage is poured at the bottom of the containers, and the substrate is poured on top to a height of 5-7 cm. It is convenient to water the soil at this stage.
Landing has few rules:
- The bulbs are set vertically, bottom down and covered with a substrate so that the soil layer above the top is 1-2 cm. Shoots are often bent when planted on a surface, it is better to resort to it with sufficient experience.
- Placing groups of crocuses, the bulbs are set as close as possible, but so that they do not touch each other (at a distance of about 0,5-1 cm) and even more so – the walls of the pot (distance 2 cm).
Crocuses can be driven out in inert soil – perlite, vermiculite, expanded clay, moss, hydrogel, leaving the tops above the substrate.
Conditions and care at the rooting stage
Containers with planted bulbs should be allowed to rooting for about two to three months. For forcing for spring this period is 50-70 days, for forcing for winter holidays – 100-115 days. Special forcing crocuses often take root after 2-3 weeks. You can lengthen the preparation period to “fit” to the desired date by lowering the temperature in the second half of rooting.
At the rooting stage, crocuses need a shade + coolness combination:
- the temperature is about 5-9 degrees Celsius (when planting in September, it is advisable to lower the temperature to 5 degrees from the second month);
- full protection from light (it is convenient to put on a light-proof cap on the container);
- light soil moisture with minimal watering.
As soon as the first signs of growth appear, you need to begin to carefully monitor the condition of the plants and soil moisture. But there is no need to rush to change the conditions until the sprouts grow up to 3 – 4 cm.
Read also our article Secrets to Successfully Forcing Hyacinths at Home.
Conditions and care during the stop and flowering period
Plants with sufficiently grown flower arrows can be gradually moved to light and warmth. For 3-5 days, it is better to place them in partial shade or shade them with a cap, only slightly increasing the temperature (up to 10-15 degrees, if there is no suitable place – by cooling the plants by airing or laying out snow in a pan).
In the future, for flowering crocuses, you need to provide:
- the brightest possible lighting, a place on a sunny windowsill (best of all – southern);
- as cool a temperature as you can afford (ideally – up to 18 degrees during the day with a decrease at night to 9-12 degrees).
The cooler the room in which the crocuses bloom, the longer you can admire them. At an average temperature of about 16 degrees, they flourish for up to 20-25 days, in warmth (from 21 degrees) – 10 days. Crocuses open their luxurious flowers only in sunny weather. Supplementary lighting is not allowed.
Normal watering is resumed slowly and carefully, with the beginning of plant growth, also gradually stopping with the onset of yellowing of the leaves. Crocuses are watered carefully, drying the top layer of the soil, but not allowing it to dry out too much. To compensate for the temperature in warm rooms, you can lay out snow or water the crocuses with cold water.
Spraying in hot weather and on battery power helps mitigate “abnormal” conditions.
Crocus feeding is not needed. But if desired, in order to obtain larger flowers, you can feed crocuses with complex fertilizers, special fertilizers for bulbous or tomatoes – once at the beginning of the growing season or every 2 weeks until the flowers bloom.
Potassium-phosphorus fertilization after flowering will not harm either.
Crocuses after flowering
Once flowering is over, there are only two options left – save the bulbs and save the plants, or just throw it away. Crocuses are not the most expensive bulbs, but they are full-fledged perennials that deserve more than throwing them away.
They bloom only once in the room. But if you allow the foliage to fade, the bulbs – to rest until August, and then plant them in the garden in a warm, sheltered meadow, you can guarantee yourself the pleasure of observing the growth of groups and colorful early flowering in a couple of years. And if there is no garden, you can always dig in the bulbs in the yard.
Diseases, pests and problems in crocus cultivation
Most often crocuses lose due to inaccurate watering. Stagnant water in the pallets, constant dampness of the soil quickly destroy even the strongest plants. And the only remedy is accuracy and control over the drying out of the substrate.
Of the pests, the most troublesome with domestic crocuses is the aphid, which adores all small-bulbous. At the first sign of insects, crocuses should be isolated and treated with insecticides. Nematodes and other soil pests, including onion mites, are also dangerous.
With any severe damage and a sign of deformation of the buds, the plants will have to be destroyed.