Tricolor Crocus

'Tricolor' Snow Crocus

You & I the secret
Of the crocus know --
Let us chant it softly --
"There is no more snow!"

-Emily Dickenson


Multiflowering 'Tricolor' is one of the finest of the more common offerings of early blooming snow crocuses. Three years serially, it sent up its colorful deep purple candlestick buds by the third week of February in 2004, & fully flowering in March, flowers arriving ahead of the crocus grass.

It has a remarkable blossom, being a rich pastel purple at the petal edges, bright orange in the center, the two colors separated by a broad band of white. The outer petals are a darker violet, yellow-orange at the base. It's a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit.

'Tricolor' is a selected clone of a subspecies of a snow crocus Crocus sieberi sublimis, native to mountains of the Peleponnese. Very cold hardy, it is suitable down to zone 3, though in very cold climates it will not bloom so early as for us in zone 8.

Other than the two C. sieberi clones that are in mass production ('Tricolor' & C. sieberi atticus 'Firefly'), further cultivars are not easily come by. 'Tricolor' & 'Firefly' happen to be among the hardiest, swiftest to naturalize & spread, & unquestionably beautiful choices. Occasionally offered are C. sieberi 'Bowles White' & 'Hubert Edelstein' which are, alas, not so easily established in the garden & do not spread particularly well.

We planted ten 'Tricolor' bulbs in a small drift right at a garden path's edge, in front of a Formosa Juniper. This location turned out to be a little shadier than is ideal since the juniper is an evergreen & crocuses are best under deciduous shrubs where they get plenty of sun before trees & shrubs are releafing.

Many species of crocuses like to be permitted to remain dry in summer, but this is not the case with varieties of C. sieberi or C. chrystanthus, which even during summer dormancy multiply best in well-watered locations.


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