The convenience of the planter will let you enjoy them inside or
out. If you are in Zone 5 or below, the planter will let you easily over
winter the corms for next spring.
life cycle of the Crocus is similar to many of our native trees and
shrubs. For instance, our native Buckeyes and Elderberries tolerate
winter; leaf out, bloom, and set seed in spring; and then go dormant for
the summer, snubbing the season of fall all together. With the
Saffron Crocus, the only difference is that they put up a flower in fall.
The flower lasts about two days and the bloom period is usually between
two and three weeks.
This means that after the grassy growth
of spring, the Crocus is going to disappear until fall. And, in that
summer period it is important for them to stay dry (another great reason
to containerize them). After they bloom in the fall, the pot can be stored
in a cool, dry place until the danger of frost has passed in the spring,
at which time they can be returned to your patio.
The corms of Saffron multiply like
rabbits. After the flowers are finished, you can lift and divide the
corms. They should be air-dried for a few days in a dark, dry spot that is
safe from mice. After they are nice and papery, brush the dirt off and
store in a paper bag for the winter. The corms can be planted in new pots
in the spring. Because dividing the corms can set flower production back,
it should be done only when the production of the flowers slows (usually
every four years).
While some describe the flowers as
unspectacular, we think they are fascinating with their
extravagant dark pumpkin colored eyelashes that the scientific community calls
stigmas. There are three of these richly colored thread-like lovelies in each
lilac-and-white-striped flower. In
commercial production today, just as it has been for centuries, these flimsy
actually plucked from the flowers by hand as the flower first opens. They are
then roasted over fire to dry.
For home use, you need to remove the
stigmas before the flower folds on the second day of its bloom. Lay them
on a paper towel to dry and toast slightly before storing. They may then
be stored in an airtight jar. The filaments may be used by soaking in hot
water or stock which imparts a lovely orangey color and earthy aroma to
whatever the liquid is used in. Indeed, the better the Saffron, the more
aromatic and the deeper yellow the color will be. These precious
threads may also be powdered and added at the last moments of cooking.
When you consider that it takes 75,000
stigmas to make a pound of Saffron filaments and 4000 blossoms to make an
ounce of dye, you have to wonder what inquisitive human being unraveled
the mystery of this unassuming little plant. It must just be that ancient civilizations had much less to distract them and,
after all, there were no supermarkets. Each plant was investigated, and as much of it as
possible was used. There is a lesson in there somewhere.