Autumn Crocus – Neglected Again

  • Post published:09/14/2010
  • Post comments:2 Comments
Autumn crocus - Colchicum

Someone was  talking about colchicums, autumn crocus, the other day and this morning I went out to look at mine. I stepped out onto the piazza, pulled out an armload of lemon balm and moved the inevitable shoots of wisteria, and there they were.  Palely loitering in the shade, through no fault of their own.


I planted the autumn crocus bulbs at the foot of the wisteria years ago when the herb bed was not yet full.  Of course, the herbs filled out pretty fast, as herbs will, and even the wisteria finally sent out shoots in every direction that are always needing to be cut back.  Every year I swear I will move them to a spot where I can really enjoy them, and where they will be happier.

The problem is colchicums (and I have no idea what variety these are) send up foliage in the spring. The foliage dies down and disappears by late July.  This is the time for transplanting, when they are invisible. Now I know where they are, but in late July the surrounding area is now filled with lemon balm and bee balm and Black Beauty lilies. The whole idea of getting in there with a shovel to dig out the bulbs on a hot summer day, without making a mess, defeats me.

So another year has gone by, the leafless autumn crocus (sometimes called Naked Ladies for this very reason) are flowering, but this time the clump is looking diminished and the color is more pale.  Will I take action next July? We can only hope.  I know the Naked Ladies do.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Gail

    Pat, I know how you feel about digging in the heat of summer! Mine disappeared! Not sure if it was the 18 inches of rain that fell on May 2, but they are all gone! I do like them a lot and am wondering if I want to try them again! gail

  2. Pat

    Gail – Yikes! 18 inches of rain on one day. Why can’t the weather gods spread these things out – in time and over space?

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