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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.