Colchicum Patrol: Week 5

– Posted in: Colchicums, What's up/blooming
4 comments

Colchicum season is winding down. I only found two new varieties blooming when I went out on patrol. But plenty of the ones I’ve already profiled continue to send up flowers.

Colchicum Spartacus viewed from top

‘Spartacus’ is new to me this year.

‘Spartacus’ is new this year for me. Right now it has the same pastel color as C. byzantinum, but since I’ve never grown it before, I have no idea if the color will deepen once we get cooler nights again. (It’s only predicted to go down to 59F [15c] tonight.) Not only does the color resemble that of C. byzantinum, but the shape of the petals is similar. However, C. byzantinum has purplish-red styles with little hooks at the top. And while C. ‘Spartacus’ has white at the bottom inside, C. byzantinum doesn’t have that.
Colchicum Spartacus from side

The profile of ‘Spartacus’ colchicum more closely resembles a crocus than a tulip.

‘Spartacus’ doesn’t have the goblet or tulip shape that so many colchicums have. That’s another way it is similar to C. byzantinum. I bought both C. ‘Spartacus’ and C. ‘Lysicmachus’ from Odyssey Bulbs this year. They came earlier this fall so that I could plant them before they bloomed. I planted them the same day, but ‘Spartacus’ bloomed a good two weeks later.
Colchicum autumnale 'Pleniflorum'

This is the double form of C. autumnale, called ‘Pleniflorum’

I just rescued Colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’ from a weed-choked bed at the old house. I don’t know why I didn’t bring it over sooner. It emerged white and is just starting to color up. It’s interesting how these variations on C. autumnale all bloom at different times. Superficially, ‘Pleniflorum’ looks like ‘Waterlily’. ‘Waterlily’ isn’t blooming yet, so I can’t compare the two for you. The best I can say is ‘Pleniflorum’ looks delicate and ‘Waterlily’ looks robust. ‘Waterlily’ blooms latest of all for me, and most years doesn’t look that attractive, since by the time it blooms we are having hard freezes (28F [-2C] and colder), which turns the petals brown. Maybe this is the year I will get a flattering photo of ‘Waterlily’–stay tuned.

More Colchicum Patrols

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

4 Comments… add one

Louise December 23, 2013, 7:23 am

I planted one after seeing yours posted. Wow. A beauty. I treasure the photo as a screen saver on my phone! I will plant violas and already planted bulbs around it. Here’s hoping to another great year for colchicums!

Diane C October 8, 2013, 7:45 pm

Oh how I’d like to go back to my old homestead and rescue some flowers.

Donna@Gardens Eye View October 7, 2013, 8:30 pm

Still waiting for all mine to come out…the rest of the week should be dry after a few inches of rain this weekend…let’s see which of these lovelies shows up.

Gail October 7, 2013, 8:03 pm

I wish I had the success you have with them~I think they’re gorgeous.

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