Crocus Vernus Grand Maitre

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Quick Overview

Crocus Vernus Grand Maitre

Crocus are members of the Iris family and are native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. They are among the oldest of the cultivated bulbs. The original crocus was a fall blooming type, Crocus sativus, grown for its saffron in Palestine during King Solomon’s time and used as an important commercial product by various ancient civilizations. Within the first few centuries of the new millennium, the Romans brought crocus to Britain, and by 1330, C.sativus was introduced into Essex via a commercial venture that made yellow dyes.

The spring flowering Crocus varieties have never been cultivated for non-gardening purposes, but they have enjoyed enormous popularity as garden flowers. In fact, C. vernus is one of the bulbs credited with starting Holland’s bulb business. Crocus are so much beloved that they were among the first bulbs brought to North America by the earliest settlers. The large flowering crocus also known as “The Wild Crocus of the Alps” were discovered around 1875.

Crocus prefer a light, fertile, alkaline soil and good sunlight. Digging them up and dividing them every three years is highly recommended. They are good naturalizers and good for forcing. Deer usually do not like them, but rodents do. Some gardeners have reported that squirrels do not eat or “replant” any of the C. tommasinianus varieties.

Crocus Vernus Grand Maitre

The ‘Vernus’ crocuses are the original Wild Crocus of the Alps and the Pyrenees. They were introduced in 1765. Grand Maitre is one of the oldest and most vigorous crocuses available today. Each corm can produce up to 2-3 blossoms. The blossoms are dark lavender-violet. The style and stigma at the center of the blossom’s throat is a brilliant orange. For optimum effect, at least 10 corms should be planted together. They will naturalize quickly doubling in number each year and will need to be divided every 3-4 years.
The corms should be planted 3-4 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Don’t forget to add at least ¼ cup bone meal to the area where the corms are to be planted. They can flourish in full sun to partial shade. Grand Maitre is hardy from Hardiness Zone 3-8.
Grand Maitre can be ‘forced’ for a mid-winter bloom indoors. This crocus can be ‘forced’ in water and in pots. Getting bulbs to grow and blossom indoors during the winter is known as “Forcing”. “Forcing” means that you trick a bulb into believing that it has awakened from its winter slumber and it is now time for it to produce its spring blooms. Some bulbs can be forced by placing the bulb in water. Many bulbs can be forced by planting them in soil in a pot. With the exception of paperwhites, ALL BULBS MUST BE EXPOSED TO A PERIOD OF COLD FOR AT LEAST 12 WEEKS.

If you are going to force the bulb in soil, then, for best results, place 3-4 bulbs in a 6 inch pot on top of 2 inches of soil, and cover the bulbs with soil leaving only the tips above the surface of the soil. Wrap the pot in a plastic bag and place the pot with the bulbs in the refrigerator for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, remove the pot from the refrigerator, water, and place in a cool bright window. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged and the pot cool. The bulbs will bloom in about 4 weeks.

If you are going to force the bulb in water, you need to place the bulb in the refrigerator (NOT THE FREEZER) for at least 12 weeks. When you remove the bulb from the refrigerator, place it in a bulb vase or a bowl lined with pebbles. Add water to the base of the bulb and place the vase/bowl in a cool, bright window. The bulb will produce blossoms in about 4 weeks. Only narcissus, hyacinths and crocus may be forced in water.

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