Crocuses, or Saffron. The main types and varieties. Distillation
Crocus, or saffron - a decorative tuberous plant of early spring or late fall flowering. Of the 80 species of crocuses, most bloom in early spring. Numerous crocus species naturally grow in Central Europe, the Mediterranean, the Crimea, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Black Sea region, Turkey, Iran.
Many of the crocuses are now a rarity and are listed in the Red Book.
Saffron (Crocus) Is a genus of perennial tuberous bulbous herbaceous plants of the Iris family, or Kasatikovy (Iridaceae) The name "crocus" is borrowed from Latin and is widely used by flower growers.
The word "crocus" most likely came from the ancient Greek "kroke" (thread, fiber), since the dried columns (stigmas) of crocuses resemble threads, fibers. And the name “saffron” has something in common with the Arabic “Zeféran” (yellow) - the stigmas of crocus have this color.
The clothes of the ancient kings were sewn from yellow fabrics, dyed with saffron paint. In ancient China, no one had the right to use such paint, except for the emperor. Saffron is found in Egyptian papyrus, in the writings of ancient doctors and philosophers. Long before our era, incense, refined seasonings and medicines were made from saffron flowers.
You can use the coloring pigment of saffron for clothes in our days. But it is too expensive a pleasure to use it in this way, although saffron gives a pleasant yellow color without etching. More often, saffron is used in a completely different field - for coloring food products. Already two stigmas of this saffron are enough to color 3 liters of water in the distinctly yellow color. By the way, this is one of the methods for verifying its authenticity, because all plants used to falsify saffron or replace it do not stain water or stain weakly.
Saffron is added to the dough, pilaf, confectionery to give them not only a beautiful color, but, with a sufficient amount of saffron, also a pleasant smell.
Crocus or Saffron - a short (usually about 10 cm tall) plant with small (about 2 cm) tuberous bulbs of a flat or spherical shape. Narrow leaves are linear, often with whitish streaks in the center; continue to grow after the flowers wilt. Crocus peduncle leafless, short. The duration of flowering of crocuses depends on the species and the weather. Goblet crocus flowers of various colors: white, yellow, cream, orange, blue, purple, lilac; there are crocuses and two-tone, and spotted, and with a contrasting mesh pattern. Saffron flower on average reaches a diameter of 2-5 cm, opens in clear weather. Crocuses look good in group plantings (7-10 plants each), along with the rest of the spring small-bulb or on their own; fit harmoniously into the rock garden. Crocuses are especially attractive among grass, near trees and bushes.
Crocus prefers sunny places, but can grow in partial shade and in shady areas. The soil is preferably fertile and well-drained. Compost or humus (but not fresh manure) is used to fertilize crocuses. Corms of spring-blooming crocuses are planted in September, and autumn-blooming crocuses are planted in August. The depth of planting of corms is 6-8 cm, the interval between them is 7-10 cm. For the winter, crocuses are mulched with peat. In winter, crocuses can suffer from mouse-like rodents. Intensively growing nests of crocuses are planted after 4-5 years.
Corm - underground thickened underground part of the stem, which contains nutrients. The difference between a corm and a real bulb is that the nutrients in the bulb accumulate in the scales.
Types of crocuses (saffron)
In decorative gardening both wild species of crocus and varietal are used:
Saffron adams, or Adams crocus (Crocus adami) - peduncle height 4-6 cm; perianth 3-5 cm in diameter. Coloring of flowers from light lilac to dark purple, whitish whitish or yellow. It blooms in the second half of April.
- According to modern classification, it is distinguished as a variety of Saffron, or two-flowered crocus (Crocus biflorus) — Crocus biflorus var. adamii
Saffron alatava, or crocus Alatava (Crocus alatavicus) - the height of the peduncle is 6-8 cm. Perianth inside is white, outside is dark purple, with a yellowish throat. It blooms in early April.
Saffron banat, or banana crocus (Crocus banaticus) - flower stalk height 12-14 cm. Funnel-shaped flowers are light lilac with yellow anthers and lilac stigmas. It blooms in September.
Spring saffron, or spring crocus (Crocus vernus) - flower stalk height 1-3 cm; perianth 3.5-5 cm in diameter. Coloring of flowers is white, lilac, violet. It blooms in the second half of April. The most common varieties (the length of the tepals is indicated in parentheses):
- "Agnes" - light lilac with a silver edge (3.5 cm)
- "Vanguard" - light lilac, silver on the outside (4.5 cm)
- Glory of Sassenheim - grayish with light purple stripes and a dark purple base (5 cm)
- "Jubilee" - blue with a silver sheen, a light edge and a purple base (5 cm)
- Jeanne d’Arc - White (9 cm)
- Queen of de Blues - light blue with a light edge and dark base (5.5 cm)
- Kathleen Perlow - White (4-4.5 cm)
- Little Dorrit - Silver Blue
- "Nigro Boy" - dark purple with a purple base (4.5 cm)
- "Pallas" - grayish with lilac stripes and a purple base (5 cm)
- "Pickwick" - grayish with lilac stripes and a purple base (5 cm)
- "Paulus Potter" - dark purple with a reddish tint (5 cm)
- "Purplepureu Grandiflora" - purple with a dark base (4.5 cm)
- "Remebrans" - purple, with a silver sheen, a very dark base (5.5 cm)
- "Snowstorm" - white, with bright purple stripes at the base (5 cm)
- Flower Record - Purple (11 cm)
Heifel saffron, or Heifel's crocus (Crocus heuffelianus) - flower stalk height 10-12 cm. Perianth purple with dark spots at the top of the leaves. It blooms in early April.
Golden saffron, or golden-flowered crocus (Crocus chrysanthus) 8 cm high. Small yellow or blue flowers of various shades and colors appear in the second half of April. Has large-flowered varieties with a perianth diameter of 3-5 cm:
- "Blue Bonnet" - pearl blue, yellow pharynx
- "Violet Queen" - purple, golden-yellow throat
- Beauty Cream - Yellow
- Snowband White
Saffron Korolkova, or Crocus Korolkova (Crocus korolkowii) - flower stalk height 5-6 cm. Perianth orange-yellow with purple stripes on the outside. It blooms in early April.
Saffron Pallas, or crocus Pallas (Crocus pallasii) - flower stalk height 5-6 cm. Perianth pink-purple with purple base and veins. It blooms in the second half of September.
Saffron is lovely, or beautiful crocus (Crocus speciosus) - flower stalk height 12-18 cm. Perianth with a diameter of 10-12 cm, lilac-purple with darker veins. The flowers are fragrant, appear in September. The most common varieties:
- Albus - White
- "Artabir" - lilac
- Kassiope - Blue
- Oksionion - dark blue
- Pallux - Light Purple
Saffron yellow, or yellow crocus (Crocus flavus) - flower stalk height 5-8 cm. Perianth 8 cm long, 6-7 cm in diameter, golden orange with barely noticeable purple stripes on the outside. It blooms in mid-April.
Saffron Mesh, or Crocus striped, or Crocus mesh, or Saffron striped (Crocus reticulatus) - flower stalk height 6-10 cm. Perianth 3-4 cm in diameter, light purple inside, with dark brown stripes outside. It blooms in the first half of April.
Saffron Suzi, or Succian crocus (Crocus susianus) - flower stalk height 6-10 cm. Perianth up to 4 cm in diameter is golden yellow, with dark purple stripes on the outside. It blooms in the first half of April.
- According to modern classification, it is united under a common name - Saffron, or narrow-leaved crocus (Crocus angustifolius)
Saffron Tomazini, or Crocus Tomasini (Crocus tommasinianus) - perianth 5-6 cm high and 3-5 cm in diameter. Coloring from light lilac to purple, whitish whitish. It blooms in early April. Two varieties are common:
- "Bare People" - lilac
- Ruby Giant - Dark Purple
Saffron narrow-leaved, or narrow-leaved crocus (Crocus angustifolius) - flower stalk height 6-10 cm. Perianth 4 cm in diameter, golden yellow, red-brown stripes on the outside. It blooms in the first half of April.
Saffron Heuffeliana, or Crocus Heuffeliana (Crocus heuffelianus) 10-20 cm high; flowers are purple, lilac or white. Flowering is very early - sometimes blooms, even when the snow has not melted.
Crocuses are good not only in the garden - they are suitable for distillation in rooms. Blooming crocuses in pots are perceived as an unusual New Year's gift and are surprisingly touching as a gift on March 8th.
Even “experienced floriculturists” do not always succeed with 100% accuracy in growing crocuses by a specific date. It happens that they are either ahead of it, or not waiting. And sometimes from the corms of one variety planted in a pot, it blooms somewhat before the intended date, and a few later than the time you need. Agree, it's a shame! How can this disappointment be avoided?
The basic rules for the forcing of crocuses
In order for crocuses to bloom simultaneously by a certain date, first of all, it is necessary:
- Choose the right variety. It is very difficult at home to make late crocus varieties bloom in the early stages (by Catholic Christmas or New Year), and early varieties in the late periods (May 1). In addition, it is better to give preference to large-flowered varieties; small-flowered (botanical) varieties of crocuses at the time of flowering will look as impressive as in the colorful picture, on the packaging, only if you look at them through a magnifying glass.
- Discard the “mixture” of varieties and plant in one pot corms of one variety. Different varieties of crocuses have different heights (low flowers just drown and get lost in high leaves) and different flowering periods.
- Early crocus varieties must be put up for distillation, when later varieties are not yet ready for distillation, as they have not yet ended the rooting period. In addition, late varieties of crocuses can bloom when the vegetation period has already ended in the early ones and for the safety of their corms it is necessary to reduce or completely stop watering.
- To plant corms of the same size in one pot - when planting "multi-sized" bulbs, they most likely will not bloom at the same time. Large corms bloom a few days earlier than small corms.
Choose varieties of crocuses for distillation
When choosing crocuses for distillation, it is better to dwell on large-flowered Dutch hybrids, with their distillation almost never there is any difficulty. Golden-flowered crocuses are more difficult to drive out, often the buds dry in the leaves without even blooming.
On sale corms of large-flowered (Dutch) crocuses and golden-flowered crocus can be found from mid-August to January.
Crocus corms are best bought at the very beginning of the season - from mid-August to the second decade of September, since the “first batch” bulbs are the most worthy: large, dense, without damaged protective scales. Their size in comparison with other spring-flowering bulbous is much smaller. The color of the outer scales is brown or gray, and varies from grade to grade — it may be lighter or darker.
For early distillation (for flowering in December-January), after buying corms, it is necessary to “dry” them for 3-4 days at room temperature. Then put it to cool in a dark, dry place with a positive temperature of 4 to 9 degrees (so far without planting). The optimal start time for cooling the crocus corms for early distillation is from the third decade of August to the first decade of September.
If you buy crocuses in the fall, many of them may already be with sprouts. But this does not mean that the bulbs are already prepared for flowering. For guaranteed flowering, they must go through a cooling period and take root well. Creating such conditions for distillation, we should be as close as possible to natural conditions, so cooling and rooting are one of the most important factors.
It is desirable that for early distillation, the cooling and rooting period should be at least three months.
A good place with the required temperature (+ 4..9 ° C) in the home is a refrigerator, the temperature in it is the most stable and suitable for distillation. It can also be a cold storage room, an attic or a barn. Holders of a glazed loggia can arrange crocuses here in a darkened place. Although it should be borne in mind that depending on weather conditions, the temperature on the loggia can vary.
If you still decide to stay on the refrigerator, do not rush to immediately plant corms. They may well lie for a month at the desired cooling temperature, not being planted in the ground, but simply wrapped in paper or newspaper. Thus, you can save some time in the refrigerator and not force it ahead of time in pots and cups.
Planting crocuses for distillation
For planting, you can use any loose water and breathable substrate with a neutral reaction, as well as clean sand or expanded clay, or use a mixture of these components, the quality of flowering will not depend on this. But if you want to keep the corms after distillation, it is better to plant them in a substrate, since the buds of the next year are laid in the current period. For distillation in the sand, with the aim of further use of crocuses, it is necessary to carry out top dressing before the period of budding.
When choosing a container for landing, it is better to use a wide bowl. Planting crocuses in one bowl is usually not limited to five corms, but, despite the fact that they are small, for a larger number you need not a narrow pot, but a wide bowl. You can also plant crocuses in a special pot for growing them. It has a rounded shape and holes for sprouts are located on its sides.
Choosing a bowl and preparing a substrate, you can proceed with the landing. Crocuses can be planted, in principle, arbitrarily: immersing them completely in the soil, planting them on the shoulders or just slightly pressing the corms, but so that the bulbs do not touch each other and the walls of the pot.
You can plant using a combined substrate: fill the bottom of the bowl with earth, pour a layer of sand and carefully plant the corms in it, then completely cover it with sand. Under no circumstances should wet sand be compacted and compacted. Summer residents call this method of planting "in a sand shirt." If such a planting is carried out, one can be completely sure that the corms of the crocuses will not rot, and the roots of the crocuses will be in the moist nutrient layer of the substrate.
For decorative purposes, the pot can be filled on top with small pebbles, creating an atmosphere of natural mountain primroses. After planting, the crocuses are abundantly watered and sent back to the cold for rooting. For them, this is a kind of winter, a waiting period and a warning that spring is coming - time for flowering.
The final stage of distillation
As already mentioned, the entire cooling period for crocuses should be at least 3 months.There are several ways to find out if crocuses are ready for the final stage of forcing (to move from cold to warm), and whether the rooting period has passed successfully:
- The height of all planted sprouts (for large-flowered varieties) should be at least 5 cm; this does not mean that if out of 10 crocuses planted, the height of one has reached 5 cm, then the crocuses bowl can be set for forcing in color. Be guided by the weakest and lowest sprout - its height should be at least 5 cm.
- If you feel the sprouts, it should be tight, not empty; this means that crocuses are ready for forcing in color.
- If there are drainage holes in the bowl, the roots should look plentifully from them.
If all these points are taken into account, the bowl is taken out of the cold and placed in a bright place, preferably with a temperature not exceeding +15 ° С. Since crocuses are spring flowers, they do not withstand the high temperature - they quickly fade. Crocuses instantly react to an increase in temperature and begin to bloom. They react to bright bulbs, including incandescent bulbs, which are almost like the sun for them - they literally blossom completely before their eyes, after which they lose their decorative effect, as the petals become lethargic.
The optimum temperature for them during flowering is +10 .. + 15 ° C. At a temperature of + 20 ° C and above, crocuses bloom in a few hours or in a day. At home, this coolness can be near a window or balcony, so for crocuses these are the most suitable places. To prolong flowering at night, it is desirable to lower the temperature, minus temperature is allowed (-1 ..- 3 ° С). In such conditions, some varieties of crocuses bloom up to 3 weeks.
Be careful with watering, both during rooting of corms and when distilling crocuses at low temperature. Watering is carried out when the top layer of the earth dries. The remaining water from the pan must be drained. And, if you want to keep the corms after distillation in good condition, it is better to crocuses, like all spring-flowering bulbs, pour into the pan so that the water level in the pan is at the root level and a few centimeters below the bottom of the bulbs.
Early, middle and late forcing differ in planting time of corms, the varieties used, and can also be adjusted by the cooling time. For medium- and late-flowering varieties, the cooling period and rooting should be more than 3 months. If you are driving crocuses whose variety you do not know, focus on their condition in the process of forcing.
If you properly looked after the corms of crocuses and after distillation they look decent, you can try to drive them out again next year they will bloom, but much worse. Repeated distillation is better planned in the late stages (not by the New Year!). The later, the greater the chance of success.
I wish you a pleasant cultivation of crocuses on the site and successful forcing on the windowsill!