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CROCUS tommasinianus

Image of Crocus tommasinianus

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Iridaceae

Botanical Name

CROCUS tommasinianus

Plant Common Name

Early Crocus, Tommy Crocus

General Description

Scoffing at winter's last fits of snow and cold, the tiny tommy crocus brings cheer and promise with its late winter and early spring flowers, which often occur in self-sown drifts. A perennial that grows from a small corm (bulb-like tuber), it is native to to southeastern Europe.

In late winter, one or two lavender flowers arise from a developing tuft of grass-like foliage. The leaves have prominent silvery-white midstripes. Borne singly on ankle-high, stalk-like floral tubes, the white-throated blooms have six relatively narrow "petals" (more properly termed segments). The outer segments often have silvery exteriors. The starry flowers open wide in bright sun to display yellow anthers and orange styles. The floral tubes are white. Once flowering ends, the foliage remains for several more weeks to gather nourishment for the bulbs.

Grow tommy crocus in full to partial sun in almost any reasonable soil. It needs many weeks of winter chill to flower and grow well. An enthusiastic self-sower, it is ideal for creating clouds of early bloom in lawns and borders. Form albus has white, lavender-flecked flowers. Cultivar 'Whitewell Purple' has reddish-purple blooms, and 'Pictus' is pale lavender with purple tips. Hybrids with the closely related Crocus vernus sometimes occur; these include 'Ruby Giant.'

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    3"-4" / 7.6cm - 10.2cm

  • Width

    2"-4" / 5.1cm - 10.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Eastern Europe, Southern Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Lavender, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Foundation, Lawns and Turf, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes