Planting Crocus in the Lawn

I’m planting over 500 of the smaller crocus in my lawn for early spring flowers. These are Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), Crocus tommasianus, and Crocus sieberi, which all bloom before the larger Dutch crocus. I chose them as their foliage is one of the first to die back, so I will be able to mow the lawn later in May without interfering with the crocus leaves’ ability to replenish the bulb. I’m looking forward to seeing the charming crocus blooms of purple and yellow rising up from the grass next spring.

As I was doing the planting in the evening, it was hard to get good shots to clearly show the crocus corms, without shadows,  blur, or bright spots from the flash.

I’m planting these in a sunnier patch on my lawn, as they do better in the light. The warmth of the bright sunlight causes their petals to open, instead of staying tightly closed. I have some small crocus in my garden in part shade. They are usually closed in the morning, but open up for the sunny afternoon and early evening, as do the larger Crocus vernus.

Crocus packages for arranging
Crocus packages for arranging

I tried out colour combinations by arranging  the crocus packages on my floor, in the order that I wanted to planted them in the lawn. 140 Crocus sieberi subsp sublimus ‘Tricolor’ are in the middle, since they have the snazziest colour mix in bands of purple, gold and white. Their combination of both purple and gold should anchor the other purple or yellow flowers around them. In front are 140 medium yellow Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’, which have maroon stripes. To the right in the front are 30 Crocus sieberi  ‘Spring Beauty’, a really good looking purple crocus with darker purple on the outer petals. 50 Crocus ‘Yalta’ are on the left. They are a cross between C. tommasinianus and C. vernus, with larger flowers like the Dutch crocus, and a pretty two-toned purple blue colour. Since they are larger, I used fewer of them. At the back are 100 Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ (Prince Claus), which is white with dark purple patches on the outside. In the back right corner are 60 Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’, a medium yellow crocus with a silvery exterior.

Crocus packages arranged on lawn for planting
Crocus packages arranged on lawn for planting

Here are the crocus packages arranged out on the lawn. The sun was low and casting longer shadows, but you get the idea that they are arranged in an oval or egg shaped patch. I staggered the packages up and down a bit as I planted them. The two patio steps are not there permanently. I just placed them there during planting to avoid putting any bulbs in a few spots, so I would have some places to step across the grass without squishing crocus flowers next spring. Of course, if they naturalize and spread, those bare spots won’t last anyways.

Crocus being planted under grass by lifting flap
Crocus being planted under grass by lifting flap

It was a lot of fun planting the corms, and rather easy. I just dug a flap in the lawn by cutting on 3 sides, and then folded it back on the 4th side like a hinge. The holes were about 30 cm (1 ft) square, because that size was easy to work with, and about the right size to plant around 20 of the small corms. If the flap ended up shallow, I just dug a little extra soil out, and threw it back on top of the bulbs, before closing the grass flap back over the bulbs. It was very simple, and I planted 520 bulbs in one evening. We’ve had perfect gardening weather, so this was an enjoyable gardening project.

Crocus being planted in lawn with grass peeled back
Crocus being planted in lawn with grass peeled back

What slowed me down more than anything were the numerous ladybugs all over the lawn. I kept stopping to lift the little bugs off of the grass flaps or out of the holes before lowering the top back, and then carrying them over to place on plants in the garden. I spent more time saving ladybugs than snapping photos.

Crocus sieberi subsp atticus 'Firefly' being planted in lawn
Crocus sieberi subsp atticus ‘Firefly’ being planted in lawn

To keep the planting centred where I wanted it on the lawn, I started with the Tricolor bulbs in the middle, and then worked my way to the outer edges.

It was getting dark in the twilight as I finished, and for the last few packages I couldn’t really see which was the top of the corms, so I had to feel for the shoot  at the top of the bulb before planting them in the holes. It was fairly easy to feel the tops, but it’s possible than one or two may have to make a detour around to grow upwards. :)

I won’t mow the lawn until the crocus leaves have died back Because these are the earliest crocus, that should happen fairly soon in spring. The slender, strap-like foliage will blend into the grass. Perhaps it will look even better than my grass after they have finished blooming, since my lawn is more of a close cropped meadow.

I love digging, so this planting was fun. I also planted a number of  new Crocus in my garden, in between perennials last week. Some of the crocus in the lawn are the same as those I planted in the garden, and I’ve described them in that article, but I have 3 new types that are only planted in the lawn.

Crocus 'Yalta' package
Crocus ‘Yalta’ package

Crocus ‘Yalta’ is a cross between C. tommassinianus and C. vernus, ending up with the larger sized blooms of  C. vernus.  ‘Yalta’ is a darker purple, with the outer petals a light greyish purple. I think it should look very showy when it pops up, so I’m anxious to see it in flower.

Crocus sieberi 'Spring Beauty'
Crocus sieberi ‘Spring Beauty’

Crocus sieberi ‘Spring Beauty’ is similar to the little snow crocus. ‘Spring Beauty’ has an especially pretty combination of light purple with darker purple marks in the middle of the petals on the exterior. I would have planted more ‘Spring Beauty’, but I could only find a few packages.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance' package
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ package

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ is a medium yellow, small early crocus. The outer petals are a paler yellow. ‘Romance’  has a more subtle two toned colour combination than the yellow ‘Gipsy Girl’.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' with yellow petals
Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ with yellow petals

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Gipsy Girl’ is the one type of crocus from this new planting that  I already grow. I planted these bulbs because I wanted some yellow, and I was able to get these locally at a good price. ‘Gipsy Girl’ have a bolder colour scheme with maroon stripes, and are extra cheery when the sun is shining through the petals.

With the big spring payoff, it is very rewarding to plant little crocus corms in fall. You can tuck them into so many spots, between perennials, under shrubs, or even in the lawn. Then in the earliest spring, right after the snow melts, the hardy bulbs send up the first green shoots, followed so quickly by the bright flowers. My little snow crocus frequently live up to their name, and flower at the very edges of the melting snow. More and more blooms appear as the snow and ice retreat. Sometimes the snow crocus appear to be chasing away the last of the ice blanket. Plus, they persevere so well through any late snow storms. They simply close up their petals, and then open up again when the new snow melts and the sun returns. In a northern garden, such cheery and tenacious flowers are the perfect antidote to a long winter.

You can see how the crocus flowering in the lawn looked the next spring in this article.


18 thoughts on “Planting Crocus in the Lawn”

  1. Wow so many bulbs to plant:) It must look absolutly wonderful next spring. We can’t plant any crocusbulbs here because the deer is eating them up:( So it will be nice to se them in your garden in springtime:) /Monne

  2. I have NEVER enough crocuses! But filling my lawn would be too expensive for me (we have big house with 12 flats and lawn area is rather big, mowing need 3-4 hours walk). Still I did little start this autumn and put some yellow sorts between new planted bushes. :)

    1. The yellow crocus look very cheery when they come up and most of the garden is still brown. I’m just filling one section of the lawn, in the sunniest area. I do hope that they start spreading though.

  3. Hi, wow wow, such a lot of crocus! I feel my back when I think I must put them in the earth. The way you put it in the lawn looks very pretty.

    My Brunnera was not stolen, I give a part of it to my friend, because they gro so fast in this part of the garden, it is wet.

    Have a nice suny day and fun with your garden.


    1. Sigrun, luckily most of my soil isn’t too hard, and I don’t have to use a pickaxe to dig the way some gardeners do.

      Now I understand about the Brunnera. Sometimes things get jumbled in the translation. Some of my Brunnera grow large very quickly and some are still small. I just added some to a new front garden section.

      Rose, I’ve been on a bulbs planting spree, and its fun to try new varieties so compare them.

      The ladybugs must be digging in for the winter. There was at least one for every shovel full I dug. I was digging another garden expansion in my front garden and there were 2 or 4 on every shovel turn. The aphids had better beware next spring.

  4. I planted not quite 100 crocus bulbs in my lawn last year and bought another 50 for this year. But 500 must really put on a show! Thanks for the tip about digging on three sides to form a flap–that is such a great idea, I’m going to try that so I don’t disturb too much lawn. Glad no ladybugs were harmed in your planting:)

  5. I’m sure your garden has to be one of Canada’s finest until next spring! Crocus ‘Romance’ was really lovely. I’ve never seen that kind before.

    1. Marit, I like the silvery outer petals on ‘Romance’. I haven’t seen it before either, and picked some up while I was out of town.

      M/S Design Mariana, I look forward to seeing them bloom next year. Those very early flowers have a lot of impact in the garden when there is still so much brown.

  6. Dear Gisela ….
    beautiful crocuses You chose you .. I’m looking forward to the flowers in the spring ..
    We currently have the Golden October … I’m almost done .. with the gardening!



    1. Waltraud,it’s fun to try out some new varieties of crocus. I’ve planted and moved most of what I wanted to get done this autumn, but I might do a bit more planting if we get some nice weather. I’ve cut back about half of the perennial foliage, so I still have more cleanup to finish.

      Kathleen, once you start digging it is very satisfying. If there was a cartoon of my planting, there would be a dotted thought bubble above my head filled with pictures of colourful flowers, while the reality below would be full of browning fall colours. I really like the ‘Spring Beauty, and it’s a shame that I couldn’t find more of them.

      Barbarapc, digging the flaps made the whole project much quicker, too. It’s sort of like a giant advent calendar in the lawn, but I don’t get to open it in December. :)

  7. Wow!!!! It’s going to be SO gorgeous next spring! I can’t wait to see. You are inspiring me. I only have about 200 bulbs to plant & I’ve been wondering how I’ll get that done. No more!!! Of course they have to arrive first & that hasn’t happened yet. Those ‘Spring Beauty’ crocus are beautiful. I haven’t seen them around. Now something else to keep on the lookout for!!! Great project!!

  8. I really like your hinge idea – excellent. And with all the raccoons we have here – certainly something to think about after they’ve turned the lawn upside down! Looking forward to seeing the results in spring.

  9. Hello Northern Shade gal !
    This was a big project and you have such a unique way of doing it ! .. I am glad you were so careful with the ladybugs .. I see so few here, and few butterflies .. but husband says they are here,it is just that I am not out at the right time or looking at the right time .. I will have to take his word for it ?
    I have stopped doing crocus .. we have a chipmunk that loves them and proceeded to dig last Spring’s batch up all summer and feast on them .. so what can you do ? At least he didn’t try for the daffs or the few tulips I have !
    I have 90 daffs to plant out front lining up with the rock border of the main garden in the front .. I am hoping for a beautiful Spring show with them .. and 30 Ballerina tulips to plant in the back … I better get busy !
    Great post with wonderful step by step pictures !
    Joy : )

    1. I was digging up a new bed in my front lawn and there were even more ladybugs there. Perhaps its a sign that there is a lot for them to eat around here, which is both good and bad. In the balance between aphid and ladybug, I’m happy that it seems to be tipping in favour of the ladybug side.

      Oh those cute little striped fiends. I’ve planted a lot of crocus this year, so it would take a lot of chipmunks to dig them all up. I hope they don’t see that as a challenge. I must guard my maps of where I’ve planted them, as I don’t want the bandits getting a hold of the treasure maps. :) The squirrels so far seem content to busy themselves with the spruce cones.

      Have fun with the daffodil and tulip planting. It’s fun to be dreaming of spring as the frost sets in.

  10. Here’s to squirrels not playing tic tac toe with them :)
    I was pleasantly surprised this spring when the crocuses I bought at Home Hardware, I knowwwwww, bloomed for months ! I was shocked in fact, usually a day or two and they’re gone. This year I went out and bought a few more bags and can’t wait til the golden crocus brings sunshine in the spring.

    1. Cheryl, it sounds like you got some good quality bulbs, and the weather must have been perfect for them, too. Mine usually bloom for about 2 weeks each, depending on the weather, but between the early and late ones I get about a month’s worth of blooms.

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