CROCUS AUTUMN FLOWERING
|CATEGORY||Crocus Autumn Flowering||HEIGHT||10 CM|
|VARIETY||Sativus (saffron)||BLOOMS||Late Autumn|
A modest flower is the source for the world’s most expensive spice: “saffron” although its precious origin is obscure, “saffron” crocus is believed to be an ancient selection of the greek native “crocus cartwrightianus”
“crocus sativus may have shoots on them when bought if in the late autumn. This is not detrimental to the growing of the bulbs at all and will die off and throw green shoots in the spring. Please be aware that crocus sativus do not always flower the first year but should be fine in subsequent years.
A small herbaceous perennial that grows from a bulb-like storage organ known as a corm, “saffron crocus” sends up one to five pale to medium lilac-purple flowers in mid-late autumn, but it is mainly grown for the flavorful, three branched, orange-red style that ornaments each flower’s centre.the grass-like gray-green foliage appears with the flowers. “saffron” is the only spice to come from a flower that is harvested by gathering the three long, deep-red stamens from the female plant and drying them.
Herb gardeners who revel in growing their own tasy seasonings, delight in having that most dear of spices at a price that doesn’t require a second mortgage. “saffron”, the deep red threads that flavour rice dishes like spanish paella, is actually the dried stamen of the sativus crocus. The spice is so expensive because of the labour involved with hand picking the small flower parts.
But if your recipe calls for 6-8 threads (not the 4,000 needed for an ounce) you can complete the “harvest” in less than a minute. Indulge in a luxury that’s very affordable when you provide the growing site and the labor. Flowers are harvested immediately after the flowers open. The long style branches are severed, gathered and dried. The saffron can then be used (as it has for millenia) in culinary masterpieces, or to dye your royal cape or robe.
Grow “saffron crocus” in full sun in rich, well drained soil. The corms flower best if planted at a depth of several times their height. Shallowly planted bulbs often divide into many small, non-flowering corms after the first years bloom. Dig and replant the corms in late summer every 3 or 4 years. Plants are sterile and so cannot be propagated by seed. “saffron crocus” can be grown as an annual, in containers and planters, both for its spice and as a curiosity. Use the spice in baked goods or hot dishes, such as paella.