Ht. 4-8 Spread 4-8
HABIT: Blooms in many colors, mostly from late winter through early spring. Some bloom in the fall. Leaves are basal and grasslike, often with a silver midrib. Purple, blue, yellow, and white flowers are available. Plant corms in the fall. Sternbergia lutea, a yellow fall blooming crocus, naturalizes better and lasts longer than most other crocuses. Crocus sativus, saffron, blooms with gorgeous purple flowers and bright red stigmas, the source of the delicious and valuable spice. Plant in the spring for fall flowers.
CULTURE: Plant in well prepared soil and use the basic watering and fertilizing program.
USES: Low growing perennial color.
PROBLEMS: Squirrels, rabbits, gophers
COMMON NAMES: SAFFRON, SAFFRON CROCUS
TYPE: Perennial corm
LOCATION: Full sun.
PLANTING: Fall - spring. Key is to plant before fall rain starts.
HEIGHT: 4 to 6 inches
SPREAD: 6 inches
FINAL SPACING: 6 inches
BLOOM/FRUIT: Lavender flowers with brick red stigmas which makes the spice of commerce.
GROWTH HABITS/CULTURE: Saffron is grown from a corm and has grass-like foliage. It looks like a typical crocus. Flowers emerge ahead of the foliage in late October to early November. Fairly easy to grow in loose organic soil.
PROBLEMS: Squirrels, rabbits, gophers are the most serious problems. They dig up and eat the bulbs. Rabbits eat the foliage. Repel them with hot pepper, castor oil, and fast dogs.
HARVEST/STORAGE: It takes 2 to 3 years for saffron to mature. Harvest around Thanksgiving. About 5,000 stigmas (1700 flowers) are needed to yield 1 ounce of spice. Harvest the dark red stigmas first day of bloom, dry and store them in a cool, dark place.
CULINARY USES: Flavor for many foods including rice, meats, soups and vegetables. Dark red in its dried state, saffron imparts a rich golden-yellow color to cooked food. It is popular in rice dishes and soups.
MEDICINAL USES: According to Odena, a tea or tincture is good for lightheadedness and considered an aphrodisiac but too much may cause a narcotic effect.
LANDSCAPE USES: Beautiful bulb for fall flower color.
OTHER USES: Cosmetics, dyes, and perfume.
INSIGHT: Plant and leave alone for three years. Then dig, divide and expand planting or give some corms to friends. When buying this herb ready to use, get the threads instead of powder. Theres less likelihood of adulteration.