Grow your own saffron to use in cooking! We rarely think of bulbs as edible, but this showy fall-blooming Crocus is the source of saffron, the quintessential seasoning for paella and other dishes from the Mediterranean and Asia. Each lilac-purple flower produces three red stigmas, which have been used for flavoring and coloring food since Roman times. For instructions on harvesting saffron, click here.
Perhaps because the sun is so low in the sky after the autumn equinox, the blooms of fall Crocus positively glow in the landscape. They appear between September and January (depending on your climate) on stems 3–6″ tall and have the same refined goblet-shaped flowers of their spring cousins.
We ship fall Crocus in September. The bulbs must be planted right away so they may go about the business of rooting and preparing to flower, a process that generally takes 4–6 weeks. Fall Crocus grow best in a sunny, protected site.
For more information on Crocus care, click Growing Guide.
HOW PLANTS ARE SHIPPED
The size of the plants we ship has been selected to reduce the shock of transplanting. For some, this means a large, bareroot crown. Others cannot travel bareroot or transplant best if grown in containers. We ship these perennials and annuals in 1 pint pots, except as noted. We must point out that many perennials will not bloom the first year after planting, but will the following year, amply rewarding your patience. We ship bulbs as dormant, bare bulbs, sometimes with some wood shavings or moss. Shrubs, Roses, vines, and other woody plants may be shipped bareroot or in pots. The size of the pot is noted in the quick facts for each item.
WHEN WE SHIP
We ship our bulbs and plants at the right time for planting in your area, except as noted, with orders dispatched on a first-come, first-served basis by climate zone. Estimated dates for shipping are indicated in the Shipping Details box for each item. Please refer to the Shipping Details box to determine the earliest shipping time. Unless you specify otherwise, fertilizers, tools, and other non-plant items are shipped with your plants or bulbs. Please supply a street address for delivery. Kindly contact us with two weeks notice, if you'll be away at expected time of delivery.
We guarantee to ship plants that are in prime condition for growing. If your order is damaged or fails to meet your expectations, we will cheerfully replace or refund it. Please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-503-9624 or email us at [email protected]. Please include your order number or customer number when contacting us.
Average Customer Rating: (15 Reviews) Write a Review
Linda, weed digger from Jackson, CA
This plant takes little space to produce enough to use during the year. I recommend ordering between 75-100 bulbs. You can't beat the price for growing your own supply of the most expensive spice.
The Librarian from Austin, TX
I was amazed at how carefree this beautiful plant was. I was not able to plant the bulbs when when they arrived and feared that they would not respond when I finally had a chance to get them in the ground. I was surprised when the lovely blue flowers began to appear. I look forward to their return this fall and plan to harvest the striking orange stamens.
Helen C from Pittsburgh, PA
I purchased 200 bulbs and split them as gifts for 5 different gardens in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The bulbs were planted in late September and early October, and all of the gardeners were warned about the possibility of rabbit issues. Even though they were planted late in the season nearly half of the bulbs have bloomed in all of the gardens. We look forward to a full showing next year!
Sandra from Morgan Hill, CA
I have ordered these 3 times in the past, twice while in PA, 25 bulbs each time. Both times, I only got about 6 - 8 flowers. Turns out the bunnies love them also. Then I moved to Calif. Again ordered 25 bulbs, planted as soon as I got them, beautiful green grassy striped leaves . . . no flowers. I waited until the next year, again . . . beautiful leaves. 1/2 were in full sun, 1/2 mostly sun, plenty of water, not soggy. But no flowers. The nice thing is White Flower Farms Customer Service did offer replacement or full refund (which I took as I didn't want to wait until next September) I still love WFF as they have many of the unusual, harder to find plants such as fraises du bois etc.
Susan from Monroe, NY
Nice quality bulbs. The first year all I got were leaves, the second year I did get a few flowers. This is the third year, and the bulbs have been growing. I will have to transplant them this year, so I do not know if they will make it, but I plan to get a few more. The chimpmunks tried to dig up a few, but they did not like them, and stopped. I wish I had planted them closer together and not in a straight line.
Saffron is a delicious and colorful seasoning that is used in breads, desserts, and main dishes in many parts of the world, from England to India, from the Middle East to Scandinavia, and all around the Mediterranean. Without it, an Indian curry or a Spanish paella just wouldn't be the same.
The bright red-orange threads you get when you buy saffron are actually the stigmas, or female portion, of the Saffron Crocus flowers. It takes hundreds of flowers to produce a commercially useful amount, which explains why saffron is so expensive. For the home gardener, however, two dozen Saffron Crocus will supply enough of the precious spice in the first year for a few memorable dishes. Then, with each successive year, the corms (which look like bulbs) will multiply, the size of the planting will increase, and you'll be able to harvest more of the spicy stigmas. After 4 to 6 years, you should divide and replant the corms (do it right after the foliage has faded). Division prevents overcrowding, which can lead to a decrease in flowering.
Planting Saffron Crocus Corms: In areas where Saffron Crocus are reliably hardy—USDA Zone 6 through 8 in the South, 6 through 9 in the West—you should plant the corms as soon as you receive them. Saffron Crocus do best in full sun and well-drained soil that is moderately rich in organic matter. Ideally, the site should be relatively dry in summer, when the corms are dormant.
Plant the corms 4in deep and 4in apart. If gophers, mice, or voles are a problem in your garden, plant the corms in containers or line the bed with hardware cloth or a similar wire mesh. Flowers generally come up 6-8 weeks after planting, although occasionally they wait until the 2nd fall to appear. Bloom lasts about 3 weeks. The grass-like leaves may emerge either with the flowers or soon after they appear. Sometimes they wait until the following spring. In either case, the leaves persist for 8-12 weeks, then wither and vanish, leaving no trace of the corms below until the flowers appear again in fall. It's not a bad idea to mark the area where you've planted your corms, so you don't inadvertently dig them up while planting something else.
Overwintering Corms in Cold Climates: Saffron Crocus can be grown in areas with colder winters than Zone 6, but the corms must be lifted and brought indoors for the winter. After the first few frosts, but before the ground has frozen solid, carefully dig out the corms, place them in a wooden crate or plastic tub, and completely cover with dry peat moss or sand. Store in a cool (40-50°F), dry place, such as a basement. Plant them out again in the spring after all danger of frost has passed, but don't water until you see new growth in early autumn.
Another way of growing Saffron Crocus in cold-winter areas is to plant the corms 2 in. deep in clay or plastic pots filled with a well-drained soil mix, and then set the pots directly in the ground, with the rims about 2 inches below the soil surface, so the pots don't show. After the plants die back in the fall, move the pots into the basement and store them dry for the winter. Set the pots back out the following spring. Again, marking the pots' location so you don't accidentally dig into them is probably a good idea.
Harvesting and Using Saffron: Three stigmas are borne in the center of each purple, cup-shaped bloom. The best time to harvest the stigmas is mid-morning on a sunny day when the flowers have fully opened and are still fresh. Carefully pluck the stigmas from the flowers with your fingers, then dry them in a warm place to preserve them for cooking. Store in a closed container. To use saffron, steep the threads in hot liquid (water, broth, or milk, depending on the recipe) for about 20 minutes. Add both the threads and the steeping liquid early in the cooking or baking process, and the threads will continue to release their color and flavor.