Fall Blooming Bulb: Colchicum ‘The Giant’
Although Colchicum is not a true crocus, it is referred to as “Autumn Crocus”, due to its large, showy, crocus-like flowers that are produced in late autumn. Colchicum bulbs are much larger than crocus bulbs and each large bulb produces a cluster of blooms. Like Lycoris, Colchicum’s bold green foliage emerges in spring and goes into dormancy for the summer months. Then – just when the garden is starting to look tired and finished – striking, large cup-like “naked” (leafless) flowers appear. In southeastern Wisconsin, flowers usually appear in late September through October, at a time when their vibrant beauty is much appreciated.
This bulb is best planted in late summer or earliest autumn before most other fall bulbs are planted. Bury the bulb so that the top of the bulb 3”-4” below soil surface. Bulbs are so impatient to bloom that they will produce flowers right in the retail display unit if they are not planted promptly!
Colchicum is esteemed for its late-season showiness and is also valued for medicinal purposes. The compound Colchicine, derived from this plant, is used in the treatment of several serious medical conditions. As with many powerful compounds, though, Colchicine is highly toxic. This plant is safe to include in the garden if you do not have inquisitive pets that are prone to eating your garden flowers. Deer & rabbits are wise enough not to touch it!
Colchicum ‘The Giant’ in a Nutshell:
- Mature height: 6”-10”
- Mature spread: 8”-12”
- Bloom Season: September/October
- Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
- Growth form: Bold green Hosta-like foliage in spring. Summer dormant. Leafless stems bear large, cup-like flowers in late fall.
- Flowers: Huge single mauve-pink crocus-like flowers with prominent contrasting white centers. Very Showy!
- USDA Hardiness Zone: Zones 4-9
- Especially valuable as:
- Fall specimen plant
- Deer & rabbit resistant
- Good choice for cottage gardens and perennial or shrub borders
- Heirloom, Circa 1925