Northern Shade Gardening

Crocus sieberi Pretty Flowers on Petite Plants

Sunday, May 19, 2013 Category: Bulbs
Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers from above

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers from above

Last fall I planted Crocus sieberi Firefly’ and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’. This spring they produced beautiful blooms, and I would recommend either of them if you are looking for a pop of purple colour early in spring. Of the two, ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers in sun

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers in sun

Crocus sieberi subsp atticus ‘Firefly’ have a slightly pinkish purple colour, a little different from most crocus colours. They can appear more pink or more purple coloured depending on the time of day and angle of light. The ‘Firefly’ flowers are a little larger than Crocus chrysanthus (snow crocus), but the petite plants are just as short and close to the soil.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers folded up

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers folded up

The petals of ‘Firefly’ fold up tightly overnight and when the temperatures are extra cool. The ones above were from earlier in May when they were just emerging. We had a prolonged winter, so these early crocus were delayed by the remaining snow. They’d probably flower in April normally in zone 3, and much earlier in warmer zones.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' pinky purple flowers

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ pinky purple flowers

Here the ‘Firefly’ flowers were just opening to show their pinkish purple colour. The bees seemed to be waiting for the crocus to open with as much anticipation as me. There were lots of bees and bumble bees visiting the blooms.

Crocus sieberi Firefly' flowers

Crocus sieberi Firefly’ flowers

You can see how even when ‘Firefly’ is developed and open, the blooms on these diminutive plants sit very close to the soil. I have these planted right next to a sidewalk, so they don’t get lost in the garden, making the pretty flowers easy to view. The larger Crocus vernus are behind them. All of these corms are planted in between perennials, flowering before the perennials have even poked out of the soil.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers

Crocus sieberi  subsp sublimus ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite of the two. The purple is a particularly nice shade, and the contrast with the yellow base of the petals makes a great spring colour scheme. I showed how ‘Tricolor’ looked in the lawn in an earlier article, but this group is planted in the garden. The ‘Tricolor’ in the garden grew a little shorter than the ones flowering in the grass.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers with yellow centre

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers with yellow centre

Here is a photo of the ‘Tricolor’ flowers from above, highlighting their well-defined golden centres. That same colour shows up on the outside of the petals and looks terrific when the petals close.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' with petals closed

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ with petals closed

The yellow base to each ‘Tricolor’ petal shows on both the inside and outside of the flower. When the petals fold up you can clearly see the 3 bands of colour, yellow at the bottom, a thin band of white in the middle, and a medium purple at the top. The markings are very distinctive and make them stand out in the garden.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers close to ground

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers close to ground

Despite being short, the ‘Tricolor’ flowers are very noticeable and make a good impact. They willingly pop up right through last year’s fallen tree leaves. I’ve been removing the winter leaf cover, so you can’t see the thick mat of leaves they poked up through.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' purple flowers with yellow crocus fuscotinctus

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ purple flowers with yellow crocus fuscotinctus

‘Tricolor’ matches up well with yellow crocus like the little Crcocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ flowering behind in the photo above. When the tree leaves aren’t out in early spring, this garden section gets more sun than in summer, so the crocus do well.

Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor' flowers open in the sun

Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowers open in the sun

This picture shows the ‘Tricolor’ flowers fully open and shining in the sun. With their petal edges touching, they make a decorative purple blanket leading to the smaller yellow crocus. I would definitely plant more ‘Tricolor’ since it adds a little personality with its contrasting colour scheme.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Prins claus' and Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins claus’ and Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’


Here are some Crocus sieberi ‘Tricolor’ flowering with the white and purple Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ in front of them. ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite of all the new crocus I planted last fall with its pretty flowers, and I plan on adding more next fall. It’s easy to slip groups of crocus corms in between perennials in the fall, and the pretty spring flowering display is worth the wait.


12 Responses to “Crocus sieberi Pretty Flowers on Petite Plants” »

  1. debsgarden :
    May 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    You must have hundreds of crocus! These are all lovely. You are making a crocus fan of me!

  2. Northern Shade :
    May 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Debsgarden, our winter is so long that I’m always eager to see a garden full of flowers when it finally melts. Crocus are the perfect start, as they will pop up at the edge of the melting snow, and don’t mind a few flakes falling on them. They time share the garden well, too, because when they are done flowering the short foliage dies back fairly quickly, and the perennials get to flower in the same spot, so you hardly notice them afterwards. I probably have over 1500 of the crocus.

  3. Marit :
    May 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    You have so many beautiful crocus. They bright up the garden in spring. You have so many different. I hope you will plant many more next autumn. Later I will see your lovely crocus :-)

  4. Northern Shade :
    May 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Marit, it’s fun to try some new varieties each year and compare them. Of all of the new crocus, ‘Tricolor’ is my favourite. The Crocus sieberi look good and performed well.

  5. Derek Yarnell :
    May 20, 2013 at 9:12 am

    You are inspiring me to never stop planting these delicate harbingers of spring.

  6. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Derek, they are terrific for our northern growing zone, since you get the colourful flowers so quickly after the snow melts.

  7. Grace Peterson :
    May 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I love “croakies” and how they keep coming up every year. Yours are lovely.

  8. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Grace, they are reliable even after a cold winter. Mine don’t really spread, though, like they do in other areas.

  9. Ms S :
    May 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    I love the tight plantings of your crocus. They are stunning in such large bunches. We planted our first last year, ‘snow bunting’, in our lawn and they were a treat while we waited for the grass to green. I really think the way to go though is to do a mass planting like yours for impact. Very cheerful!

  10. Northern Shade :
    May 21, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Ms S, I like the crowded look of crocus, as they look like little bouquets in the garden. I really enjoyed the early crocus in the lawn, too, since they brightened the dull looking dormant grass.

  11. Montana gardener :
    January 25, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Your post on planting these crocus was inspiring, and the follow up photos are breathtaking. Thank you for all of this blog, it is a wonderful read with beautiful images. Living in Montana, our zones and climes are similar. Sarah Bernhardt peonies are my absolute favorite, and that post is terrific, with the show of contrasting flowers. DO keep posting! Most of your fans probably don’t comment, but still appreciate your tutorials and your passion for your garden.

  12. Northern Shade :
    January 26, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Montana gardener, thanks. I’ve been thinking about the spring garden and bulbs this week, since we have had unseasonably warm weather. Our deep snow has melted a bit, and the green leaves of the Helleborus were temporarily visible, which has me anticipating the colouful bulbs, even though they are a few months away. Early spring bulbs are terrific in our climates, as they give you that jolt of colour after a long, monochrome winter.

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