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#BotanistLens: Hocus Pocus, it's Crocus vernus!

Even before the ground temperatures rise up and frost danger is out of the window, tender young ephemerals peeking out of cold hard bare ground seems only magical to most kids and maybe even those young at heart. Let alone new shoots, how about seeing full grown, fragile petals of Crocus, caring less for the below or above ground temperatures? Now that seems like someone’s cast a spell, Hocus Pocus and Crocus is out!

Crocus are one of the easiest and most rewarding bulbs to grow. They prefer sun-part shade and anything but heavy clay. Planting them under a tree canopy or in drifts would enhance any garden.

Crocus vernus

Crocus vernus is one of the earliest blooming species. In fact, the flowers of Crocus sp. bloom before the entire foliage has come out of the ground. Crocus flavus, Yellow mammoth is a superb yellow crocus species that can brighten any yard with just couple of blooms. Interesting fact, Crocus is a corm and not a bulb. Here is a quick video:

As ground temperatures rise, many young ephemeral leaves start emerging. Now if you can't quite make out which bulbs have made it through dormancy and what is coming out next? Here is a clue: grass like leaves are those of Crocus sp.; rosette shaped leaves are mostly Hyacinth sp.; Daffodils have flat thick leaves with round tips gathered tightly around each other and, Tulip leaves have a sharp tip and when young, each leaf looks folded inward.

As exciting as it is for garden enthusiasts to see young leaves emerge, they also look tempting to many critters. Be sure to spread out a repellent around new shoots to prevent the pretty leaves from being critter salad!

Crocus sp. are rewarding to grow in a garden or a planter, be it big or small. From being an early ephemeral beauty to being one of the most expensive spice, Crocus sps. have varied applications. "According to the University of California, "Crocus" comes from the Latin word for saffron yellow. Roman women used crocus to dye their hair and their textiles yellow. Crocus was even used for trade in Europe as a loan for gold and jewels. The fall-blooming crocus is where the spice saffron comes from, which is a very expensive spice".

Ephemeral beauties will soon begin peeking out at London Town. Follow us to learn more of what’s going to peak out next from the bare ground. Hocus Pocus, now let's see what comes next?

Crocus flavus (Photo credit: Grace Washbourne)

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