Growing Saffron Crocus

Question from Ocala, FL. I would like to grow my own Saffron. Will it grow here?

Answer: I’m not precisely sure how Saffron crocus will perform in your area. These bulbs are dry and dormant in summer, flower in fall when rains begin and then send up new leaves through the fall and winter months and move into dormancy in late spring as the foliage dies back. Growing in a container that is placed out of the rain in summer will ensure the best results. Here in Oregon we are wet in winter but dry in summer which is what is needed. When first planted bulbs send up one to three flowers on successive days.
Mix a good bulb food into your soil mix. Give them a container about 10″ deep, bulbs sometimes have a tendency to migrate lower and lower so for that reason you might want to shake them out in July, divide and replant every couple of years.
I think you can grow the saffron on a small scale, your major obstacle is avoiding too much summer wet so place containers in a dry well lit area perhaps under eaves.

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132 Responses

  1. We live in the border area between the Willamette Valley and the Coastal Range in NW Oregon. Could we grow Saffron here? Where could we buy the bulbs? What is the actual name of the right bulbs?

  2. Yes, Saffron grows well here in Western Oregon. You can purchase bulbs from Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany. Our website is http://www.nicholsgardennursery.com
    The bulbs are Crocus sativus and seem to never produce seeds althought they readily grow and produce divisions. Plant in a sunny spot with good drainage and they should thrive.

  3. where can i purchase the saffron bulb?

  4. Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, OR offers saffron bulbs for sale. http://www.nicholsgardennursery.com is our website, use it to order or to request a free 76 page catalog. You can also call us at 800 422 3985. We are a family owned seed company & herb nursery founded in 1950.
    Bulbs are shipped in late summer/early fall. They bloom in October followed by slender leaves through winter and spring. It is the deep red stigmas, sometimes called theads harvested from each flower that is saffron. They are a very pretty fall crocus that must not be confused with other species of fall blooming crocus.

  5. You can plant Crocus Sativus (saffron crocus) between august and middle october.
    The first year they give only a few flowers.
    Replant the bulbs after 5-7 years.

    Hot and wet together is killing the crocus.

  6. It seems that most of the people I’ve heard who can grow saffron are from Oregon! What about in Michigan? I live in the SouthEast region (Washtenaw/Oakland counties) and would really like to grow some. Is snow bad for it?

  7. How to grow Saffron in Michigan? I would suggest growing in a container. Plant bulbs in a pot at least ten” deep so there is plenty of room for root development. Use a good commercial potting mix and add a little bulb fertilizer as it promotes flowering. Your extended snow cover may freeze the leaves and will certainly keep them from photosynthesizing before they go dormant in summer. A container planting will bloom this fall and when weather turns cold, in lower 20’s,bring it into your garage or other cool area that receives natural light. No natural light, then focus a florescent bulb above it and leave it on during the day and off at night. Keep the soil moist during the winter. Come spring, pop it back outside, placing it under an eave where it won’t receive much rain but does get some heat as that condiitions the bulbs for flowering next fall.

  8. Would I be able to grow Saffron in Tucson Arizona. Any suggestions? Thanks,

  9. Yes, you should expect to do well with Saffron Crocus in Tucson. Your conditions of a dry summer, fall rain, a chilling period in winter but not excess cold is ideal. The only suggestion I would make is if your fall rains come in September give the bulbs a little water to start the flowering process.
    Rose Marie

  10. I’ve been growing a small patch of saffron crocuses here in mid-Michigan for years, and they do fine reflowering from year to year. No problem with cold or snow, (though they are protected somewhat by creeping thyme) and the spot I have them in is not too ideal either (I have a clay based soil that I amend with compost). It is a race with the slugs to get to the flowers, although the slugs seem to prefer the petals and leave the stamens for me. (I know, Racing with slugs does sould funny now that I reread this.)
    I’m enjoying the blog, and plan to keep reading!

  11. Thank you for sharing your first hand experience and it’s good to know of your success. Now for the slugs, I recommend Sluggo or any of the iron based controls considered safe for use around pets. They seem to eat it and depart…truly depart to never be seen again. We have slug races here in Oregon, makes for a long leisurely afternoon. We’re dry enough in fall that I’ve not seen them bother the saffron.

  12. Hi, I’m interested in growing saffron for my personal use and for my friends and family. I live in southern california west of palm springs which is near the mojave desert. Is my area too dry or too hot for saffron?

  13. You should be able to grow the bulbs in your area provided the bulbs have moisture during the flowering period which will probably begin for you in September until the bulbs go into dormancy in early summer. This doesn’t mean you need the howling gales we are having here in Oregon right now but you want to keep the foliage healthy and growing. If you need more info please let me know.

    • is it possible to grow saffron in the middle east (UAE, Dubai) i’m from india and the worlds best saffron is from Kashmir. just an open questioned if its possible for me to grow it in the gulf region. i would like to know the dos and the don’ts if i have to plant it, and what type of care i have to take to make sure that the plant gets what it needs…. take care and have a nice day.

      regards
      cary

      • I think Dubai could be a challenge. You need an area with periods of cold. This occurs at higher altitudes or a desert climate that cools at night in the Mid-East.

  14. Has anyone ever tried growing saffron hydroponically? What might be the challenges of using this method?

  15. Interesting question. I’ve not heard of doing this nor can I easily find information. I have happily grown it in containers with good results. This seems to me less labor intensive than growing hydroponically. In a hydroponic environment you would have to keep an eye on it during a long nonproductive period, the time from flowering to dormancy.
    However there’s nothing like hands on experience to determine if this is practical.

  16. After reading what you say about growing the Saffron crocus I m wondering how they might grow in St. Paul, Mn. We have cold winters with lots of Snow.

  17. I think you may encounter problems growing saffron crocus. The chief problem is high summer humidity…but hey gardeners love to experiment so I’d suggest start with a few bulbs and see how it grows. Some of the finest saffron is grown in Kashmir Province where it is quite cold but drier than St. Paul.

  18. What is the demand for commercial saffron growers. We have about 12 acres we are interested in planting in something. We are in southwest North Carolina. Any ideas or suggestions?

  19. Until, a mechanized method of production and harvesting is developed, I think commercial growing of saffron in the U.S. is probably not cost effective. It’s delightful to grow small amounts for one’s own use. In Spain where there is a wide culinary appreciation of saffron as well as a long tradition there has been an effort to mechanize but I don’t think it has met with too much success. Today, saffron is largely a family project, The bulbs are dug and replanted every three years. They bloom in fall, the flowers are picked and then the stigmas are separated from the blossom and dried. Saffron is very valuable but incredibly labor intensive.
    Saffron needs a dry summer followed by autumn rains for best flower production.

  20. I bought some saffron bulbs about two years ago. They were mailed September of 2006 and planted promptly. They’ve produced foliage, but have yet to bloom. Do you have any ideas why that might have happened?

  21. I suggest you lift the bulbs in late July or early August when they are dormant. Even though bulbs have not bloomed they may have divided. Prepare soil with the recommended application of bulb food (what you would use for other flowering bulbs) and a little compost if available. Plant in a well drained sunny spot and set bulbs about 4″ deep. Sometimes bulbs don’t bloom the first year but they should flower the second season.

  22. It is January and I like in Alberta Canada (zone 7) where the temps. can range from 0 – neg.30 celcius this time of year until March. I was just given some dormant saffron bulbs and am wondering if I should do something with them now or if I can keep them dormant. Thanks for any info!

  23. If the bulbs are completely dormant now, two thoughts occur. It may not actually be saffron crocus since they will often send up shoots this time of year even when unplanted. That can be easily resolved by planting and observation and I will reply directly to you if you want to email a photo. The second is plant the bulbs now in a container that is eight to ten inches deep, setting the bulbs about 4 inches below the soil line. Use a commercial potting mix and if you have any bulb fertilizer work in a small amount. Place the container in your sunniest indoor spot and see if leaves sprout, I doubt it will flower but who knows. I think you are too cold in the winter because the foliage grows during winter and would likely freeze. However, If these bulbs grow plant three or four dormant bulbs in late August and see what happens.

  24. What is you address and I will email you pictures of what they look like now. Thanks

  25. will saffron grow well in Virginia?
    Rose Marie replies: It needs good drainage and air circulation but I think it could grow. Start with a small number and give it a try.

  26. Anyone have success in Los Angeles area/westside.
    I saw a post from someone near palm springs but the weather is totally different over there.
    Rose Marie replies: Even though Los Angeles weather is different than Palm springs saffron will grow well in your area.

  27. And can saffron be grown from seed?

  28. Saffron is sterile and doesn’t produce seed. It is only propagated from bulb divisions/

  29. Any idea if I can grow in New York City? I assume it will be in a pot.

    I also wanted to know more info on yield timing – will there be anything to harvest in the first few years of planting because in a May 2, 2007 post above, someone wrote “Replant the bulbs after 5-7 years” can someone explain that? Do these bulbs multiply in the pot?

    I am new so please excuse the cheesy questions.

    Thank you.

  30. I bought saffron plants at a plant expo last week. The plants are in little plastic containers. I read your the posts on this message board and learnt that the bulbs go dormant in summer, which I was not aware of.

    The plants I have, have green (grass like) leaves/shoots. Is it normal for this plant to have this foliage during Spring?
    Also,
    1) Is it OK to water them lightly during their dormancy?
    2) Is it OK to transplant them now (April) into larger containers?

    Thanks for all your help.
    – LT

  31. Grass like leaves would be the way I describe saffron foliage. Foliage is growing now and will go dormant in summer. Keep them watered now until June when they begin to go dormant, when foliage dies down stop watering until fall. You can carefully transplant now disturbing the roots as little as possible.

  32. Thanks a lot. This is very helpful.
    LT

  33. Hi, I’ve been reading the posts and have already learned a lot.

    I’m up in Alberta, Canada and I don’t know much about growing plants, I’d say I have more of a brown thumb and could kill fake plants. But I want to learn about them. My brother and I are planning on trying out some hydroponics and I figured it would be interesting to try out a saffron bulb sometime in the future.

    Like you mentioned above when someone asked about hydroponics, the amount of work while it’s dormant would make it tedious to grow with this method. My question is what is the time frame that it requires the most water? You said to stop watering when it’s dormant, so would having it in a container and keeping it indoors work, or does it still need sun and the occasional rain fall? When it’s fall I would assume that would be a good time to set it up on the hydroponics, but then after it’s finished blooming in the winter, would setting it aside and just the occasional water work?

    Sorry if any of these questions seem like they should be common sense, I’m a computer person, so I don’t know the first thing about growing plants =P

    Thanks for any information =)

  34. I am intrigued by this plant and not sure if my state will allow it to be imported. Have you any experience with shipping to Hawaii ? I live in a place that gets less rain than other places and doesn’t get below the low 60’s in the winter. Does the bulb require a chilling off period ? The soil is very loamy and rocky. There are some rains in the summer but not more than 6 inches. Please advise. Would appreciate you keeping our correspondance unpublished. Mahalo, AA

  35. We don’t ship bulbs or plants to Hawaii because of entry restrictions. I have no knowledge of anyone growing saffron in your state. Your day length and warm winters would likely interfere with the plants growth cycle.

  36. I am looking for a Crocus that will naturalize/come back each year in Southern California – It is for a residence in Beverly Hills 90210. They would be planted in a lawn area that would be left unmowed while they are growing so I need ones that are tall enough to poke out a bit in the unmowed grass.

    • This is a late reply to an overlooked post. Check with your local CA extension service or a good retail nursery to learn which crocus varieties will
      return year after year. It’s a climate issue and you need local info. Rose Marie

  37. I live in the Adirondacks in Upstate, NY and last winter was the first time I tried Saffron Crocus and I’ll tell you of my experience to date. I received the dormant bulbs last summer (50) and planted them in a very large clay pot. Though the pot is huge they were very crowded. I thought that I would plant them in the garden this spring but after reading the above posting realize that wouldn’t be possible because we receive a lot of rain in the summer. Anyway, after I planted them in the pot I put them in my unheated barn. Well, this year was one of the coldest on record and when I went in to check and water them throughout the winter found that the foliage was up and green but the soil was actually frozen. I thought for sure the bulbs were a gonner, but when the weather started to warm up I put the pot outside and the bulbs appeared to be no less the wear because the foliage was still green. Now the foliage has turned red and I’m assuming the bulbs are going dormant. I’ll replant them within the next few days, giving them more room and fertilizer, as per the above instructions, and place them under my covered porch which receives a lot of sun but is protected by the rain. Hopefully, I’ll have some saffron to harvest this fall. I’ll keep everyone here posted when I do. Good luck to the rest of you who are trying this bulb for the first time too.

  38. I’m pleased the saffron made it through your winter…they have to be tough if they grow well in Afghanistan. Before you transplant let them dry down complete since the foliage is still supplying nutrients to the bulb. It is believed good for them to be in a warm dry situation during the summer. Often the phrase is “bake in the hot sun while bulbs are dormant”. Is it possible to still keep them under the porch until mid July and then transplant. They will be fully dormant and will then benefit from fresh soil, fertilizer and moisture.

  39. I live in Mid-Michigan (zone 5a-6a). I received a bunch of saffron bulbs 6 wks ago but didn’t get to planting them, and now it’s mid-november and snow has fallen. What’s the best way to care for all these bulbs? do i leave them in their bags and keep them dry and cool? do i plant them indoors (even though there are 30 or so…i don’t have the room to plant them all)? it must be too late to plant them outdoors. I hope i can keep them alive.

  40. Hello Jen,
    Plant them now in a container. It needs to be 8″ deep, work a little bulb food into your potting soil and set the top of the actual bulb two inches from the surface. If you have an area in your house that is cool and sunny that would be ideal. Even a cold windowsill could work and if you can only find a container 6″ deep rather than 8″ plant them anyway. If you give them light and water they will grow.

    There will be a few flowers and you can harvest the saffron styles. When you have just a few styles and are harvesting from a container I recommend laying them on a piece of waxed paper to dry and then either using promptly or store in a clean odor free glass jar. I stress odor free because I remember a woman who brought in an entire jar of saffron she had harvested. The problem was she’d stored it all in a jar that had previously stored Vitamin B pills and altered the scent of her saffron.

  41. Hi
    I love growing Crocus sativus but I don’t know how can I grow them ideally.my aim is good supporting my crocus bulbs in order to becoming big bulbs to get more flowers( both in quantity and in size).would you like please help me?
    Best regards.
    Homi.

  42. I live in Mississippi… would I be able to successfully grow saffron crocus here in my state?

    • It’s a tough go for this crocus with your summer rain and humidity. If you can keep the plants dry during summer so the bulbs die back and become dormant then they should grow. I recommend planting in a container and placing it under an eave on the sunny side of the house. If you have such a place then give it a try.

  43. Firstly, thank you for all this fantastic information.
    I read that a priest named Santucci introduced saffron to his native home of the Abruzzo region in Italy via Spain during the height of the Inquisition some 450 years ago. My Grandfather was born in Navelli and often told stories of the saffron farms there. I live in So. California and have always dreamed of cultivating saffron. I wonder if saffron is in my blood, lol. I’ve just begun to research and find your posts to be very useful. Thanks for all your passion and hard work.
    Best Regards,
    B. Santucci

    • You should be successful in growing saffron in So. California. That’s an interesting story about the Dominican friar Santucci and the possibility you share a common lineage. I did a little web search and found quite a few references to him in regard to saffron. The next question is this in any way related to the great Italian saffron seasoned dish, Risotto Milanese?

    • I will keep my eyes open to references to Santucci and saffron. These little nuggets of family lore often are true and important research leads. Thank you.

  44. Thanks for the prompt reply. Risotto Milanese sounds wonderful. I plan to try that dish soon.
    Are you aware of any saffron farms in operation in California? Still dreaming of of retiring to a life of strenuous labor. But with the name Santucci it might make for some interesting marketing possibilities.
    Can you tell me of the issues of quality when purchasing bulbs.
    Thanks for your time.

  45. I finally tried growing saffron crocus this year. I was a little hesitant to get my hopes up because I read all these warnings about watering and how your bulbs wouldn’t flower the first year, etc….

    BUT the little guys, even with all my neglect, sent up two flowers per bulb already! It is SO satisfying to walk out on the deck and harvest the saffron.

    (However, it is a bit less satisfying to come into the kitchen and find DH using the paper towel you were drying your saffron on to blow his nose. We’ve decided all saffron-drying towels should be appropriately labeled with a warning: Your DW will probably freak out if you move this paper towel even an inch. She can’t be held accountable for anything that happens to you if you blow your nose on it.)

  46. OK – So i bought 8 little plants at the green house last week and planted them They have 8″ grass blades on. Do I understand this. All winder they will continue to grow blades of leaves, then dye by summer and regrow in the fall and then I should pick the flowers and harvest saffron? I’m from Pa.

  47. Saffron bulbs bloom in October then quickly send up leaves. These leaves die back in summer and bulbs become dormant until fall.

  48. Hello, I live in NW ,AR and I know we have high humidity and summer rains. I plan on planting in raised beds for more drainage and since the bulb goes dormant in summer months would tarping the beds help or hurt the bulbs as far as keeping them dry til fall?

  49. I am wondering if Saffron Crocus grow in Austin, Texas? I would plant them in a planter pot.

  50. Where can i get the Saffron Crocus bulbs now?

    • You can purchase these late August thru September when they are dormant. Right now they are all in the ground.

      • I received sprouted kashmiri crocus sativus on Nov 30, 2011 and they are already in their loamy planters today.

        There are crocus sativus suppliers ready to ship, even during winter – search in amazon.com for “crocus staivus bulbs”.

        Mine came from Botanika trading. Those sent during the winter will be sprouts. If it takes a month to get them, don’t worry, it’s a little bit different in Kashmir culture, but you’ll get exactly what you’re seeking :-)

  51. Is there any herb that I can plant over the saffron while it’s dormant without harming the bulbs?

    • This was a hard question to answer but any Dorotheansus selection, better known as Livingston Daisy is a good choice. They need sun, are drought tolerant, and provide a nice carpet of attractive flowers.
      Granted, it’s not a herb, but well worth growing and flowers of some selections stay open even on a cloudy day.

  52. I live in Albuquerque New Mexico and have sandy ground and it is dry here. What monthsdo i need to water and how offten? I have a food dryer but don’t know how long, temp. Do we do anything with the flower part, do you dry and cook with it also?Thanks have a great day,Judy

    • Saffron crocus should well for you in Albuquerque. I think natural air drying in a warm space is all that is needed. You might lose a bit of flavor if left too long in a food dryer, especially if unsure of temperatures.
      The only parts used are the vibrant red stigmas and styles.

  53. HI! I’m hopeful in moving somewhere near Tennessee sometime in the future, and I would like to know if that would be a suitable area to grow saffron. My dear has tasted it before in a lasagna, and would just die if I had the ability to grow a bit, just for us.

    Also, in the meanwhile, would Chicago be a suitable area to grow saffron?

  54. can i grow saffron in Ghana ( West Africa ), it has a tropical climate and two seasons rainy and dry,

    • I think it will be a challenge in Ghana. If you have a spot that is sheltered from rain but still sunny then try with only a few bulbs. Also keep in mind most bulbs will need to adjust from Northern hemisphere seasons to southern.

  55. If there another spice that tastes like saffron>

  56. Hi,
    I live in Northern California. I bought some saffron bulbs last season and they all sent out one or two flowers in the fall. Very satisfying. Now that the foliage is dying, I see something like a seed sac with some seeds among the drying foliage. I remember reading in this blog, that saffron plants don’t produce seeds. What is it I see? Thanks!

    • Saffron does not produce viable seed. Nevertheless, I sometimes wonder as to how it becomes so well distributed in areas where it is grown. Keep an eye on those little capsules, maybe you have something special

    • I just recently bought some crocus sativus bulbs and I am unsure of when I should plant them. It is January but not terribly cold here in Sacramento. Any suggestions you have for my area are greatly appreciated. I believe I am USDA zone 9. I hope I can keep them alive :p

      Thank you.

      -bonbon

  57. Thank you so much for this incredible post and responses! Can’t wait to grow these up here in Redmond, WA!

  58. Hi all
    Found this Blog very interesting.
    I have just acquired some Saffron bulbs. I know they grow well in my area but I have never tried growing them befrore and am having a little bit (??????) of difficulty understanding the growing instructions.
    Sorry. Forgot. I live in Central France on the edge of the Masiff Central Mountains so our soil is very rocky and (I think) acidy.
    For the next year or so, until I manage to remove all the building site material (we are renovating the house and barns) the bulbs will have to be in a deep container. The only spare soil I have is home-made compost. It’s very fertile soil and full of worms. Will this do for saffron? or will it be to rich?
    Our winters can get very cold (sometimes down to -20C but -15C is a good average for Jan/Feb/Mar). Oct to Jan is normally quite wet and Jan – April we get a lot of snow and ice. Summers vary from 9C to 40C, normally very dry but this year we’ve had a lot of rain until about 2 weeks ago. Is this to hot/cold to grow Saffron in containers?
    Any advice greatly appreciated
    Thanks Jannie

  59. I live in the Florida panhandle and am going to give it a try. The only issue I have is squirrels. They dig up my wife’s caladium bulbs. Has anyone had a problem with them digging up Crocus Sativus bulbs?

  60. Hello i am just got my first 100 bulbs and wil try to make a living from saffron i have more than 60 000 squire meters to work with and am having a hard time collecting information on the subject .
    Al the info i find is in conrtadiction with the next i find can i stil plant my bulbs at this time of year ANd does anybody have some experiance with animals eating the plants or dacieses i live in hungary the climate schould be good but
    would like some more information
    Thanks already !

  61. Hi,

    I have purchased some crocus sativus from a nursery in Holland and hope to recieve them soon. I live in Ireland, within 400 metres of the east coast. To give some idea of hardiness, rosemary ( bloomed somewhat all winter last year even up to -5 degrees celcius) and arum lily are evergreen in my location. Some annuals like nepeta and lobelia are sometimes perennial here.

    It can be wet off and on throughout the year. Hot summer days may only constitute about 4wks in total of the summer. Other summer days can be either dry /warm, sunny and warmish or wet/dull/warm.

    I plan to grow the saffron crocus ( it is an experiment) in deep containers in a south facing position, near the house wall/eaves.

    My question is, if the bulbs arrive after October, do I have to delay planting to next April/May or else should I just plant them indoors, if they arrive late?

    Also, will there be enough summer sun, here in Irish conditions and is ther anything I can do, such as heating the bulbs etc, if there is not enough sun?

    Thanks,

    A Metoudi

  62. The babies (~45 bulbs) have just arrived in Annapolis, Maryland. I tried first with 7 two years ago, got a few strands, then lost bulbs to squirrels, moles or voles, and yet am fixated on retrying. Is there a safe solution besides wire cages to deter them?

    Also, I’ve got some that seem like saffron. But- bloom in spring? is this possible? Been there for years! Smell, color & taste is divine… (have been harvesting and using same as saffron).

  63. Hello- I have read all your blogs and wonder what’s going on with my saffron. I planted the bulbs when I received them in the mail. I live in TN and we have had a horribly dry summer so I think the saffron really likes that kind of weather. I planted the bulbs in a container. It hasn’t bloomed yet but has green grassy looking foliage about 5-6 inches tall right now. Will this turn into a bloom or is it too late for it to bloom this year? Should I move the pot inside? Thanks for your help.

  64. I have the same situation as Donna. I bought my bulbs locally (Reno, Nevada) and planted them in containers Sep 13 this year. All have sprouted the little grass like leaves which are now about 2 inches long–but no blooms. Will they bloom this year?

    Thanks for your help!

  65. Hi, can i plant saffron at Los Angeles?
    Thank you

  66. Hi, can you grow saffron in Winnemucca, NV. It’s hot in the summer and cold in winter.

  67. Greetings,
    How well does saffron do along the California Central Coast…Morrow Bay/San Louis Obispo area?

  68. In answer to the original post, I have grown them successfully in Austin, TX

    • I would love to hear any tips you may have for growing saffron in Austin, as well as a source for the bulbs. I may have an ideal location, which gets some dappled shade in summer but is a very sunny location in winter. fairly shallow soil, though.

      • I think you can grow it in Austin. These bulbs need a mild enough climate to grow foliage in winter, heat, little or no rain in summer when they are dormant, but some moisture in late summer or fall to initiate flowering.

  69. Hi how long does it take to sprout them once i plant? I have planted them 10 days back and no sprout yet.

  70. Hi! I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the valley (not the mountains). Will saffron grow well here?

    Also, I plan on growing the saffron in a large container. I’d like to put some other bulbs in there that bloom in spring, so as the saffron is getting ready for hibernation, I have some other flowers coming up, so the pot doesn’t look empty and dead all spring and summer. Would this be possible, and if so, what are some bulbs that might be good?

    Thanks!

  71. This type of inter planting will prove tricky with saffron. The foliage dies down in April and the resting bulbs should not receive much if any water. It might work with the earliest daffodils and even then you will not have a summer flower display. The bulbs need to be dry through the summer and then water with the onset of fall in September followed by flowers then the growth of foliage then dormancy in April.

  72. Taylor, would drought resistant plants work for you? Something that only needs a light spray occasionally with water to survive?
    My bulbs are in containers as still live on a building site. I’ve tried mixing D/R plants with my Saffron and it seems to work for me, but I do live in Central France (the other side of the world from you)
    Good Luck
    Jannie

  73. hi,
    How many days will it take to cultivate saffron crocus from first day to till we get stamens separated from flower.

    • There is no absolute answer, climates differ, day length differs, some bulbs will bloom the first season but not all. But, this is about when saffron blooms and the blooming occurs over about three weeks. Hope this helps.

  74. I had planted Saffron bulbs three years ago and within two months of planting they flowered and then grew thick.
    The following year only about 10% bloomed while they all still grew folaige.
    last year and now this year the folaige is starting to grow with no blooms.
    Why are they no longer blooming.
    Do they need to be pollenated?

    • No, pollination is not the issue and saffron does not produce seed just bulb divisions.You say they are growing thickly. After the foliage dies down in summer lift the bulbs and prepare your soil with the recommended amount of bulb food and replant. Reset the bulbs about 5″ deep.
      Right now while the foliage is growing I would fertilize with fish emulsion, crowded bulbs may not be getting enough nutrients and space to encourage bulb formation. Often when there is poor flowering the bulbs have lots of puny little new bulbs that benefit from being properly replanted. Thanks for your question.
      Rose Marie

  75. Hello,

    I just found your blog and wonder if saffron crocus can be successfully grown in Denver, Colorado? I am very interested in growing it for my own use.

    Thank you,
    April

    • You can grow saffron in Denver but I think it is probably too late for you to plant. It’s grown in some very cold winter area such as Afghanistan. I’d recommend giving it a try next year but the bulbs need time to set down roots before temperatures drop really low. Warmer areas can still plant.

  76. I live in Connecticut and planted saffron about 5 years ago. the first few years i got flowers. I leave them in the ground all year and keep them pretty dry in the summer. They start growing in late september, but haven’t flowered in a few years now. they green part grows well, but no flowers. what may be wrong?

    • Saffron propagates by the mother corm producing daughter corms (sometimes 10x per corm each year). If you leave the original planting in the same place longer than 3 years, it will overcrowd itself (like cell division, packing too tightly in the same space).

      Let them grow where they are for this winter and spring, if you think that’s wise. If they’re so over packed, you might consider gently separating them and transplanting them now but keeping them inside away from the bitter Connecticut cold.

      You’ll need to stop watering when it gets warm in your area. Lift all your “impacted” corms out of the soil when the green leaves dry out in June/July 2012. Store the unearthed corms in a shaded but dry, well ventilated place just as you would if you harvested garlic bulbs.

      Transplant them in late August, in 8-10″ deep soil, 1 corm per 3-6 inches apart, in a 4-6″ deep hole of loamy fresh soil (such as cactus/succulent soil, or disintegrated granite with 25% steer manure) top with an inch or so of non-manure rich soil to prevent the smell of manure wafting through your garden.

      Now, you’ll be set for another 2 or 3 years, but don’t wait 5 years ever again :-)

  77. I haven’t got one flower off my 12 plants. This was my 2nd year I left them in the planter last year but that didn’t help. I bring them inside so they won’t freeze and stop watering in the summer is that wrong. I grt lives and that is all. Thanks Judy

  78. Rose Marie is the epitome of patience and endurance.

    That said, those of us who are enamored about growing saffron crocus would start reading this blog/thread from the very beginning and gobble up each and every entry, just like chips and dip; in fact, make yourself a long Hors d’orvre and then go read this blog about the fabulous saffron crocus. This way, the same questions won’t be asked again and again, rather more poinient questions as to things not yet asked will be posed.

    I spent over an hour perusing this very blog, just to see if my question had already been answered and to enjoy the discussion all by itself.

    Rose Marie, for you, I’ll answer Judy because I’m also a newbie and may not have had time to read all the others, just gasp “can I grow it (here)!”

    Florida is a very hot and humid climate, which poses a challenge to crocus sativa growers because heat and moisture grow molds on the corms. These flowers like moisture from September to May or June in well draining, loamy soil. Search the weather in Kashmir. Check Wikipedia at http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron

    Empathetically yours,
    Alicia

    • Hello Alicia,
      Your comments regarding growing saffron in Florida are correct. It’s not a question I’ve answered well because I have wondered if there is a way and I just don’t see it easily happening. For those who want to give it a try a container set out of summer rain but receiving sun exposure might be worth a try but it’s not a fail proof solution and likely will only work one or two seasons at best.

  79. Wonderful information here! Well done Rose Marie.
    I live in Liverpool, UK, and have grown saffron for the first time during last autumn (2011). I ordered the bulbs in March, (cost £9.00) to arrive in late August – I planted them a bit hurriedly on Sept 10th, because I was going to Crete for a holiday for 2 weeks, lucky me !

    Planted 4inches apart, 5 inches deep in a wooden raised bed, in a mix of light garden soil/ home-made compost/chicken manure pellets that had been growing shallotts and green salad through the summer.

    For protection – we have cats and squirels use the garden, so for my slow crop raised beds I’ve created a system of rigid heavy duty plastic garden net (for fencing etc) with 50mm squares, and I lay these, overlapping the wood, tack the four corners onto the wood with retractable cable clips and then “weave” light guage bamboo across a couple of places for extra-rigidity. This way most crops will grow up through the 50mm squares, but nothing can dig in the soil, light weeding and hoeing is possible and also harvesting.

    Back to the saffron – by October 15th there were green shoots coming through, sometimes doubling-up 2 or 3 from each bulb, and by mid November these leaves were 4 inches long and the flowers began to appear and I was harvesting. Each time I “picked” a flower I placed a white plant marker in the soil right next to it, so I could see later how many actually flowered and how many failed. The time span from first to last flower was 2 weeks.

    Of the 30 bulbs planted, I had 26 flowers, but some of these were from double shooting bulbs, so my actual success rate was 19/30 bulbs. With 3 deep red stamens from each bulb my grand harvest was 78 strands of saffron – not a huge harvest but very satisfying for the first season.

    I looked each morning, cut off about 2cm below the base of the flower, immediately brought them in the house and carefuly took apart the flowers, separating out the red stamens and then laying them on kitchen-roll in a tupperware box. I sealed the box, left them for 24 hours, then transferred them to a small screwtop jar. The fragrance was heavenly.

    I intended using the beds for my normal crops this spring/summer, by lifting the saffron after harvesting, and drying them before replanting next September. It’s now early January and the plants are all about 12inches of grass-like green leaves, flopped over but very healthy looking, no die-back at all yet. We’ve had a very mild winter for a change, no ground frosts or snow, but I decided today that I would have a peep at how many “daughters” my bulbs have produced, so carefully dug up 2 bulbs as examples – they each have about 4 daughters, smooth and very small (3 or 4mm), with the mother bulb (2cm) being knobbly and with good new growth roots.

    I can’t spare the raised beds by leaving the saffron bulbs in there all year round. Can I lift them now, or in a couple of months maybe, and then dry them ? When should I separate off the “daughters” (they are SO tiny still)? Should I jusr dry and replant without separating, for a year or so?

    Sorry this is so long – is anyone else from the UK growing this wonderful culinary plant?

    • Thank you,I find small scale saffron growing to be easy and satisfying.It’s valued in so many cuisines and just a small amount goes far.

    • Frances, the saffron corms will continue to grow and multiply during the spring. If you want a good crop for fall 2012, you should leave them in the raised bed until they are ready for summer dormancy, not before the leaves dry of their own accord. After much research, all info says to leave the corms in the soil until the grassy leaves dry and die off naturally, which is in June or July; then, carefully dig up the corms as you would harvesting garlic and let them dry in a shaded and well ventilated area until mid August or early September, when you plant them again. 6 weeks later you should have flowers every morning until it gets too cold in your area.

      • Thanks so much for the information, Alicia. I shall have to sacrifice the raised bed for now, then. Or interplant with something shallow rooted maybe – I planted them 5″ deep after all – now there’s a thought ! Out with the seed catalogue. Thanks so much.

  80. So enjoyed the articles—I am a new herb grower and want to grow Saffron—but live in Oklahoma—know I have to wait til this fall to get some to plant and another year to harvest–but think it will be worth while. I have a diabetic son and trying to grow the herbs to make the things we cook more tasty to him and to our family. He is an adult with young son and we have combined households to help all being I am disabled. I use gardening as a therapy. My 9 yr old grandson loves to do some of the work so think we will be able to handle it…..if they will grow in Ok. This summer we will be moving to the NE part near Tulsa where we will be having an acreage and planning on having other herbs and veggies and berries etc. But definitely want to grow some saffron for some recipes we have that we on our disability can no longer afford the bought spice. I will refere to your blog and look forward to a reply. Thank you so much for the blog. what size container would be best for them if a container needs to be used, would a wine vat type container be good or plastic or what? thank you for the help. Carol in OK

    • You don’t say whereabouts in OK, you’ll have the most success in areas that tend to be dry in summer. There’s not a problem with maximum and minimum temperatures. They grow foliage this time of year through spring and then die down in summer, bulbs go into dormancy and they pop awake and bloom September/October. If you are in an area with considerable summer rainfall grow in containers and place them in an area that’s protected from rain.

  81. I was given a small container planting with about a half dozen plants in it, for christmas. There may be more than six plants in it. The now has shoots about 12 inches rising from the soil. What do I do with them from now until planting time? I live in augusta georgia.
    Thank you and look forward to hearing from you.

    • Your plants are on schedule. Saffron bulbs make their foliar growth in fall-winter into early spring. Then the foliage dies back and the bulbs go into a dormant phase in summer. During this period the bulbs should no or only accidental water. Then in late August you can resume watering, dormancy will break and the bulbs will flower and then once again send up leaves. This coming summer don’t transplant but summer 2013 when the bulbs are dry and dormant in August you can remove these bulbs from the small container and replant. Mixing in a little bulb fertilizer at this time is a good practice. Just keep in mind this crocuus blooms in fall not spring but is not the other fall flower crocus Colchicum which is toxic. They are not easily confused.

      • I read the entire post and learned more from you than anything else I’ve researched – thank you!
        I am mulling over raising saffron crocus as a small family cash crop. I live in Chino Valley, AZ, zone 7b-8a. We do experience a summer monsoon season from early-mid July into early September, receiving maybe 4-5 inches during the summer. Would Crocus sativus do well here, or too much summer rain? Thanks so much!

  82. Enjoyed every bit of your article post.Much thanks again. Cool.

  83. Excellent blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  84. Incredibly detailed and helpful, thanks Rose Marie.

    I’m in S. Florida zone 10, and realize fully this isn’t the place for saffron crocus…BUT…(clearly I’m too new here to give up non-native plants?) I want to try it anyway.

    Our seasons are almost reversed for growing most edibles (too-hot-for-most-non-native-plants + really rainy summers BUT beautiful dry winters). It sounds like, from these accounts, I might be able to get away with placing crocus outside late fall when the rains slow down (November/December), leaving in the ground until around April(?), then putting the pot inside in the air conditioning until the next round…do you think I’d have a chance? Would I need to go even further, refrigerating the bulbs for a period of time?

    Thanks for any advise.

  85. I am also in South Florida, Palm Beach County, to be specific. I am also interested in growing saffron for personal use. My question is regarding the storage of the bulbs. From reading several of the earlier comments, it seems like the best path would be to dig up the corms around May 15th or so, storing them until August 15th, whereupon I would plant them. My question would be the best method of storage. Should I place the bulbs in potted soil under eaves, so that it receives sun, but not the excessive amount of rain in the Floridian summer, or should I put them in plastic bags and store them inside, in an air conditioned environment? Do they still need some soil and sun in their dormant stage, or are they truly “dormant,” and can be kept safely inside? Thanks so much.

  86. Can Saffron grow in West Africa climate? Also any suggestion around other high value crops like saffron that could grow in West Africa

  87. Does anyone know if spring blooming snow crocuses produce a quality saffron?

  88. Hi is it possible to grow crocus flower in Mauritius

  89. how can i get saffron bulbs for cultivation

  90. I live in Southwest Missouri in an apartment with a south facing balcony. Would Crocus sativus grow good in a container in this area?

  91. hi I live in IRAN,TEHRAN
    and we grow very fine quality saffron here.
    the weather is perfect for saffron.
    and I LOVE seeing those amazing flowers
    they are totally fantastic;)

  92. hello I have a question
    Can we make a Conditions for Saffron that it grow up in greenhouse in a sooner period it mean we have saffron every month ?

  93. Hi I live in North east Texas. We usually have hot summer temps of 102-110 degrees not uncommon and little rain in the summer. Winter the temps can go into the 20s fairly often. We usually get more rain in the winter but sometimes it can be dry too. I wanted to plant a raised bed of saffron, which is how all my vegetable rows are as we have a mole issue here! I have wire in the bottoms of the beds so the moles can’t get to whats in the raised beds. I have 50% shade covers on hoop tunnels over all of my of my garden rows in both my vegetable gardens or my vegetables burn up, would the saffron need these covers over the bed I put them in since they are dormant in the summer? Also just to be clear, even where its really hot and dry you would not water them during their dormant time, such a foreign concept to me, living where I do to not water something? Since I have to fill the raised planters with dirt what would be the idea mix for them. Thank You

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