There are not many plants which are ideally planted in July or August, but Colchicums are one of them. Sometimes called Autumn Crocus or Naked Lady, they provide an attractive display in autumn in borders, rough grass or containers, and continue to bloom between September and November for many years to come. They are ideal for naturalising. Despite their common name they are not related to the Crocus. They gained their nickname of Naked Lady because of the stemless flowers that arise directly from the oval shaped corms, months before the rather untidy spring leaves. They are very hardy, attractive to our all important pollinators and thrive in sun or partial shade. As with many garden plants they are poisonous and should be handled with care.
Varieties range in colour from Pink, lilac and purple to white. Notable varieties for me include Colchicum Waterlily with its large mauve double flowers and Colchicum Dick Trotter with it’s violet blooms with a white centre. For white flowers try Colchicum autumnale Alboplenum with its large double white blooms or the single palest pink or white flowers of Colchicum autumnale Album. Details and care advice for many other varieties are available in our Garden For Pleasure Plant Finder.
The corms should be planted at a depth of four inches (ten centimetres) and nine inches (twenty two centimetres) apart. The easiest way to propagate them is to divide clumps in July and replant immediately. The corms are so eager to flower that they will bloom whether or not you have planted them. They will flower stood on a saucer on a windowsill without soil or water. Therefore when bulbs are received they may be shooting or even beginning to bloom. Do not worry about this, this is normal. Just try not to damage any shoots when planting. Then look forward to many seasons of flowers at a time when other blooms are scarce.
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