Crocuses are easily forcible during the entire cold period of the year, from December to March, and do not require special conditions for this. You can plant several pots of these lovely, delicate plants in early October, and display them one at a time to bloom on the dates you want.
The choice of planting material for forcing crocuses
Most often, large-flowered varieties of spring crocus are used for forcing. (Crocus vernus), also called Dutch hybrids: white variety "Jeanne d'Arc", variegated "Pickwick", "Stripe Beauty", "King of the Springs", varieties of all kinds of shades of purple-blue gamut "Remembrans", "Grand Master", "Flower Record "," Vanguard "," Grand Leela "," Purpureus Grandiflorus ", with expressive flowers 4-5 cm in diameter. Other varieties of this group, more rare on the market, are also suitable. The most spectacular flowering is provided by corms of size 10 / +, forming 5-6 flowers, or 9/10 cm in a circle, giving 3-4 flowers. Smaller corms 8/9 cm in a circle form 2-3 flowers.
Large flowers, up to 5-7 cm in diameter, yellow crocus (Crocus flavus), represented by the variety "Ladzhest Yellow". Each selected corm forms up to 5 flowers.
Slightly smaller flowers at Tomasini crocus (Crocus tommasinianus) - 3-4 cm in diameter. The reddish-purple variety "Ruby Giant" is widespread. The height of the plants is the same as that of the spring crocus, 15-20 cm, up to 3 flowers are formed from one bulb.
Other spring-flowering crocuses lend themselves well to forcing. Of these, hybrid varieties obtained from golden crocus are often on sale. (Crocus chrysanthus), united in the Chrysanthus group: bluish-white “Blue Pearl” and “Prince Claus”, yellow “Dorothy”, “Mamut”, “Goldilox”, “Romance” and “Saturnus”, creamy “Cream Beauty”, two-color “Advance”, varieties with contrasting color of the outer petals "Gypsy Girl" and "Blue Bird". They are more miniature, 10-15 cm tall, but, as a rule, give 3-4 flowers from each corm 6 / + cm in circumference. And the variety of ankyr crocus (Crocus ansirensis) “Golden Bunch” lives up to its name and really blooms with “golden bunches” of 5 flowers! However, in the size of flowers (2-3 cm in diameter), they are all inferior to the Dutch hybrids.
The earlier the planned distillation, the larger you need to choose the corms. They are often sold already with advanced sprouts - this does not affect the quality of forcing. Before planting, purchased planting material is stored in a dark, ventilated place at a temperature of + 170C, having been previously released from the packaging. The air humidity should be such that small corms are not dried out, but not too high, at which there is a risk of developing penicillosis - green mold.
Own planting material must be subjected to several stages of heat treatment, depending on the timing of forcing:
For distillation for the New Year or January:
- 1 week after digging in June at a temperature of + 340C;
- 2 weeks at + 200C;
- Until August 10 - at + 170C;
- Further, before landing - at + 90C.
Planting time is at the end of September.
For distillation in February-March:
- Until the beginning of August - at + 200C;
- Further, before landing - at + 170C.
Planting time is from October 1 to November 15.
Planting crocuses for forcing
The development of a plant during forcing is mainly due to the reserves of the corms, therefore, the nutritional value of the soil is not significant. Sand, gravel, and distillation in flasks with water can be used as a substrate with equal success. However, if you plan to use the bulbs after forcing, it is better to prefer a mixture of peat or universal soil with sand, to which a little dolomite flour or ash is added to deoxidize until slightly acidic or neutral.
The forcing container should not be deep (pot or bowl), with drainage holes to drain excess water.There are special pots for forcing crocuses, with pockets or holes. A drainage of sand is placed at the bottom, filled with soil with a layer of 5 cm and watered so that it is a donkey. The corms are laid out on the surface almost closely, slightly pressing into the substrate. In a small pot with a diameter of 9 cm, usually 5-6 onions are placed, in a bowl with a diameter of 13 cm - up to 12 pieces.
Forcing crocuses in a mixture looks unusually elegant, when many multi-colored varieties bloom in one pot. It is safer to make a mixture of varietal corms when planting on your own, since purchased ones sometimes turn out to be rather monotonous. Since the flowering time of individual varieties is slightly different, flowering may not be as friendly as in pure-variety plantings, but in total it is longer. The use of one variety is preferable when the volume of the pot is very small, or you want to adjust the flowering exactly to a certain date.
After planting, the crocuses are watered and placed in a refrigerator or a dark basement with a temperature of + 90C for 15-16 weeks, however, after 5-6 weeks (for spring forcing - from January 1), gradually reduce the temperature to + 50C so that the shoots do not overgrow. During the cooling period, corms take root and accumulate physiologically important growth substances - gibberellins. Temperature jumps above + 9 + 100C cannot be allowed, otherwise flowering may not occur. The substrate in pots must be kept moderately moist, do not overfill in order to avoid rotting of the corms.
With the end of the cooling period, the sprouts reach a length of 3-5 cm. The crocus pots are transferred to a warm room, increasing the temperature gradually. First, it is better to put them in a cool place - on the floor for 2 days, especially if the sprouts are small, then transfer them to a windowsill with a temperature within + 14 + 160C. To reduce the temperature, you can open the window slightly without fear of harming the plants with a draft.
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Mix of varieties
Natural lighting is quite enough for crocuses, and additional lighting is easy to harm. With an excess of light and a day length of more than 10 hours, only leaves, without flowers, can develop. Crocuses bloom quickly, 2-3 weeks after the start of the attachment. With the approach of spring, this period is reduced, flowering in March (when planted in early October) may come in a few days.
In order for the flowers to bloom together, it is recommended to place the pots at a slight slope before the buds begin to emerge. However, this is not necessary at all. It is much more important to observe the duration and mode of cooling.
During the attachment period, it is necessary to monitor the soil moisture, there is no special need for fertilizing. But if you plan to use the bulbs after forcing, feed the plants with bulb fertilizer twice - at the beginning of the addition and after flowering. The duration of flowering, unfortunately, is not great - 5-8 days, however, when several varieties are planted together, it can last up to 2 weeks, after which the leaves continue to grow. Plants with appeared buds, if necessary, can be stored for several days at a temperature of + 1 + 20C in the dark, in the same way they prolong flowering by removing crocuses overnight in a cold place. Even with a decrease in temperature and in the absence of light sources, the peduncles continue to grow, so during storage you need to make sure that the crocuses do not grow pepper.
What to do with crocus bulbs after distillation
If it is planned to plant the corms in the ground (they are not suitable for re-distillation), the plants continue to be watered until the leaves turn yellow. When the leaves die off, the corms are removed from the ground and stored until autumn planting at room temperature in dry peat to prevent overdrying. In autumn, young corms are separated from the mother's (each gives several babies of different sizes) and planted in open ground for growing. In the first year, only a few will bloom, but after 2 years they will not yield to other crocuses in the ground, and some of them will be ready for distillation again.