Planting Saffron Growing Guide
Saffron spice is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It originates from the Saffron Crocus bulb (Crocus Sativus). The spice comes from the red stigmas of this flower. Each flower will only produce three stigmas, and each bulb will only produce one flower. Saffron Crocus are Fall-blooming. Plant them early in the Fall, and while you will see growth later in the Fall, these crocus will not bloom until the following Fall. Keep in mind that Saffron Crocus multiply rapidly, so in a few years you will have Saffron aplenty. Its also likely that each bulb will produce a cluster of flowers.
TIP: Saffron Crocus bulbs do not store well, and should be planted as soon as possible after purchasing them.
These Crocus need well-drained soil, soil rich in organic matter, and lots of sun. If the bulb is planted in swampy, or poor soil, it will rot. Apart from this, saffron crocus are not picky.
When you plant your bulbs, place them in the ground 3-5 inches deep and at least 6 inches apart. After the bulbs are planted they need very little care. They are cold hardy, withstanding temperatures down to -15 F. Water your crocus bulbs if rainfall is below 1.5 inches per week.
Every couple years when the flowers fade in late Fall, gently dig up your Crocus and separate the bulbs, then replant immediately. While it isn’t necessary, doing this yearly will result in a large colony of Saffron Crocus.
If you want to use the stigmas to make your own Saffron, when the flower first opens pinch the red stigmas from the center. Lay the stigmas on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to dry in a warm room, until they easily crumble. You can then store the Saffron in an air-tight container for up to two years.
TIP: Use Saffron in dishes like Spanish paella, or rice to add distinct flavor.
Saffron crocus preform best in zones 5-8. However, by taking the proper steps, in hot areas, digging the bulbs up annually and chilling them or in cold areas planting the bulbs in a protected area and heavily mulching you can grow saffron outside of zones 5-8.
What zones will Saffron Crocuses thrive in?