Safron crocus can they be planted next to other crocus #811855

Asked September 22, 2022, 4:37 PM EDT

Hello, I just received 10 saffron crocus bulbs. Before I plant them I wanted to find out if I should be planting them away from other crocus bulbs. Will they cross pollinate or create a hybrid that would affect the saffron? I know autumn crocus are poisonous and I wouldn't want to risk cross contamination. I will keep them in separate beds but didn't know if it's recommended to plant them 25ft or 100ft from each other our if it matters at all. Thank you for your wisdom, Jason

Linn County Oregon

Expert Response


Thank you for contacting Ask Extension about your saffron crocus bulbs.

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an interesting plant, and it is a sterile plant. The seeds that saffron produces are not fertile. When you add saffron to your garden, you plant a corm (it is similar to a bulb) In order to reproduce, saffron creates daughter corms off of the original corm. The daughter corms can be removed and replanted to create a new plant.

Interesting publication on the life cycle of saffron:

Article about saffron reproduction:

“Autumn Crocus” (Colchicum spp.) does often get confused with saffron, as they both bloom in the fall, however Autumn Crocus is actually in the lily family, and is, as you point out, toxic. Autumn Crocus also usually reproduce via corms (not through pollination), so it is not likely that it will mix with your saffron plants. This site has several pictures to help you identify Autumn Crocus: you are in doubt as to what you have blooming, please send Ask Extension a picture and we can assist in a proper identification.

It might be a good idea to plant them in different beds to assist your efforts to identify which of your plants is which.

Karen Mills Replied September 22, 2022, 7:49 PM EDT

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