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SAFFRON CROCUS GROWING INFORMATION
© Frances Michaels
BOTANICAL NAME: Crocus sativus
Saffron Crocus; fan hong hua (Chinese); Safran (French, German);
ya faran (Thai); zafferano (Italian)
It is thought to have originated in Southern Europe and Central Asia.
Saffron Crocus is a pretty bulb with purple flowers, each with three stigmas. It has been grown as a spice and a dye
since ancient times. The name is derived from zafaran, the Arabian word for yellow. It is famous as an ingredient in
paella, bouillabaisse and risotto. It is a perennial bulb to 40 cm high and summer dormant. It requires a cold winter
with a few frosts to flower successfully. Older, larger bulbs, 5 years or more, can produce up to 15 flowers before
they subdivide into multiple daughter corms.
Requires full sun, will not grow in shade.
Deep, rich, very well-drained, pH 6.5; compost and well-rotted manures are
Recommended planting time:
Autumn, early spring. It does best in temperate areas and
dry Mediterranean conditions (VIC, SA, drier areas of NSW). It prefers areas with winter / spring rain and dry summers.
It is unlikely to be successful in humid, subtropical areas, such as coastal zones north of Sydney and QLD but if you
want to give it a try, plant it in a terracotta pot that can be kept fairly dry; be careful not to over-water. It is
unsuitable for tropical areas.
Plant with 5 cm of soil covering the bulbs
Space bulbs 15 cm apart
Whilst the bulbs are actively growing keep the soil moist; once
dormant, allow the soil to dry out.
Flowering time is autumn. Stigmas must be harvested straight after the flowers open; each flower will only produce 3
stigmas and each saffron crocus bulb will only produce 1 flower. The flower stigmas are the world's costliest spice.
About 50 - 60 saffron flowers are required to produce about 1 tablespoon of saffron spice. After harvesting, dry the
stigmas in a dry, sheltered spot for 3-5 days; store in an airtight container.
After flowering care:
Simply plant and leave - these bulbs will easily naturalise in
Not to NORFOLK ISLAND, NT, SA, TAS or WA
SORRY but due to quarantine restrictions between Australian States no plants at all can be ordered
by residents of Norfolk Island
. These restrictions are very important as they prevent
the spread of plant pests and diseases. No potatoes, garlic, shallots, strawberries or tubestock
can be sent to South Australia
. No tubestock can be sent to
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