Snow Crocus

"Naked they came in that smooth-swarded bower,
And at their feet the crocus brake like fire."

-Lord Alfred Tennyson,


AdvanceThe tricolored snow crocus C. chrysanthus 'Advance' is a relatively recent introduction. It bloomed its first year in March, its second in February. Some years, it is among the later C. chrysanthus cultivars to bloom, though up earlier than the larger Dutch hybrid crocuses.

Blooms are buttercup-yellow to straw-colored on the inside, while on the outer side, the tepals are creamy white, overlapped by alternating tepals with bright purple blush.

It's one of the more remarkable crocuses for multicolor. The flowers close in the evening revealing the lilac-purple & cream outsides, but are open flat on the sunniest days so that, viewed from above, the flowers appear wholly yellow with brilliantly orange anthers.

It has a bunch-flowering habit, meaning each corm will produce more than one flower, so that even a small drift of a dozen bulbs can look very thick within a couple of years. It naturalizes easily & slowly spreads year by year in its immediate vicinity.

Here in the Northwest it does best in a somewhat sunny location, or the dappled shade near deciduous shrubs that will not yet be re-leafed when the crocuses are abloom. Further south it can tolerate partial shade, though good afternoon sun is always best for insuring the maximum number of days with the flowers fully opened.

We planted a scant dozen near the base of a vining fuchsia by a garden gate. At the opposite gate-post at the foot of a female kiwi is a drift of C. tommasinianus 'Whitewell Purple' blooming about the same time or a little earlier.


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