Few bulbous flowers are as popular as crocus. Its delicate purple petals, with the orange-reddish pistils, make it a spectacular flower, the kind that you would like to be able to enjoy every day of the year. The most interesting of all is that, although it can only be seen in spring, the maintenance of the plant is very simple: keeping the bulbs in the same place where we plant them or in a safer place such as in a cardboard box, we can watch it sprout season after season.
But Do you know what are the characteristics of the saffron flower? And its uses? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, don’t worry. In this article we will solve your doubts.
How is it?
Our main flower sprouts from the bulbous plant whose scientific name is Crocus sativus. It belongs to the Iridaceae family. The bulb is small, about 4cm high and 1cm thick at its base. It is planted in autumnto be able to contemplate its flowers in spring. Its leaves are very thin, less than 0cm wide, and are dark green. The lilac-colored flowers are quite large compared to the rest of the plant: they can measure about 5cm in diameter.
Although its origin is not known, according to the investigations of Egyptologists it was already known during the time of the Pharaohs, around the year 2300 BC. C. It was used during religious ceremonies, in gastronomy … even to make dyes and perfumes. Uses that, by the way, continue today. In Spain, for example, it is very common to have saffron in the kitchen to add to paellas or rice. It gives off a very pleasant aroma, something that we love.
How is saffron cared for?
We are facing a plant that it is very easy to care. It can be both in a pot and in the garden, in full sun or in semi-shade. However, we can get ‘little bulbs’ to sprout from a single bulb and, therefore, have more flowers in the next season if we do the following:
Although it can be almost anywhere, Ideally, it should receive as much light as possible. Keep in mind that the sun in autumn is not very strong (unless you live in an area very close to the equator), so it is preferable that you place your saffron in a place where it has direct sun, less for half a day.
The roots have to be able to find all the nutrients they need to be able to develop correctly, but without having to suffer risks. With this in mind, we will plant it in a porous substrate that retains moisture for just the right amount of timesuch as 70% black peat + 20% perlite + 10% volcanic clay (putting a first layer, before filling the pot).
Water is extremely important for all plants, but it is undoubtedly the most difficult to ‘control’. It is not easy at all to know when to do it, but here are some tricks:
- If you have it in a pot, take it when you water it, and do it again after a few days. So you will know how much it weighs at certain times, and this it will help you know when to water.
- Check the humidity of the substrate inserting a thin wooden stick or finger. If when you extract it you see that it has come out almost clean, it will mean that you have to water; On the contrary, if it comes out with adhering soil, it will be necessary to wait a few days for the next irrigation.
It is much better to fall short than to go too far, since if a plant suffers from overwatering it has a high risk of contracting a disease caused by fungi, and it is very difficult to get it back (not impossible).
We cannot forget about the compost. Even if you use a new substrate, the saffron will grow better if it is fertilized from time to time. Among all the chemical and organic fertilizers that currently exist, I recommend the guano (liquid). Until the appearance of chemical fertilizers, guano was what was most used to make plants grow healthy and strong. It is natural and ecological, but you must follow the instructions specified on the packaging to avoid overdoing the dose.
Prevention of pests and diseases
Although it is a plant that, unfortunately, can only be enjoyed a few months a year, it can also be affected by pests and diseases. It is important to know how to prevent them, since it will depend on whether this and the coming seasons will sprout new flowers.
The pests that most often affect them are snails and Mitesbut if they are planted in the garden they can also be attacked by mice y topos. To prevent them, it is convenient to use repellants sold in nurseries or agricultural stores, except for mites, which will be eliminated by making infusions with garlic (10 grams in 1 liter of water).
As we have said, fungal diseases are the ones that can most harm crocuses. A humid environment favors the appearance of fungi, such as those of the genus Fusarium. Prevention is the most successful solution, so, in addition to controlling risks, we will do preventive treatments with sulfur or copper from the first moment in which we have planted the bulb.
Crocus is one of the first flowers to sprout during spring and it is even likely to do so in late winter if the weather is good. To start the season on the right foot, we have to plant the bulb in the following way: whether it is grown in a pot or in the ground, it must be planted at a depth that is twice its height. For example, if it measures 3cm, we will plant it at about 5-6cm, and always with the narrowest part facing upwards since the leaves and also the flowers will sprout from there.
Saffron is also called “red gold”, and I’ll tell you why: about 500.000 flowers are needed to obtain just 1kg of this popular spice. It is hard work that requires a lot of time and dedication, but if you want to get your own saffron you must do the following:
- Pick the flowers one by onebelow the insertion of the stigmata.
- Now, put them in esparto or wicker basketsbeing careful not to compress too much.
- Once at home, stigmata will be placed on fine wire mesh or silk cloth sieves over a heat source (brazier, hot stove, …).
If you have a piece of land that you want to convert into saffron (that is, in a saffron production area), you have to know that after each harvest it is recommended to wait 10 years. before planting again.
Saffron is one of the most spectacular and easy-to-care bulbous flowers. What are you waiting for to have yours?