The Last of the Colchicums

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

These were the last colchicums to bloom in my garden.

These colchicums were still blooming Friday afternoon.

As those of you who follow me or the Cold Climate Gardening page on Facebook know, I gave a talk on colchicums yeseterday for the Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, which meets in Ithaca–not the Adirondacks.

The day before my talk, I decided to pick any fresh-looking colchicums and take them to the talk. To my surprise I found five different varieties in good shape. Of course, it was the very last of the byzantinums, just one single blossom that I decided to pick. And since this was my first year with ‘Spartacus’, I don’t know if he will bloom so late next year. The unknown colchicum was left behind, I suspect, when I moved a clump, and it was buried deep and so bloomed late. But ‘Waterlily’ and C. autumnale ‘Alboplenum’ are usually the last to be blooming. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it for a better look.)

The talk was very well-received and I hope to give it again. If your upstate NY garden group is looking for speakers, have them contact me through

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

Mike November 13, 2013, 5:44 pm

do you have any suggestions on placing colchicums in the garden? With other bulbs, I tend to plant them near the crown of a larger perennial, or maybe under a shrub. That way I enjoy the blooms, and the larger plant grows up to hide the dying foliage later in the spring. But that wont work with colchicum, because the larger plant would hide the blossoms. How do you deal with the dying foliage while still allowing a good view of the flowers?

Kathy Purdy November 13, 2013, 5:56 pm

That is a good question, one that I address in the talk I give on colchicums. I grow them in ground covers such as ajuga, creeping phlox, etc. The ground covers don’t hide the yellow foliage very well, but do complement the flowers. I grow them around hostas and daylilies, which do hide the dying colchicum foliage well, but need some trimming to show the colchicum flowers at their best. Daylily foliage often looks ratty by September, anyway. With hostas, I judiciously remove a leaf or two. It helps to plant the colchicums near the very edge of the hosta clump. Look around your garden for any plant that blooms earlier in the season and could then have its bloom stalks–or all its foliage–cut down. I have planted them behind Dark Towers penstemon and cut down the flower stalks. You could try planting amongst hardy geraniums or columbines, cut down the plants after bloom for a flush of new foliage to accompany the colchicum flowers.

Mike November 13, 2013, 6:29 pm

Wow, thanks for your helpful (lots of good details) and prompt reply. I have just a few colchicums, but am looking to expand my collection.
I just found your site, and am looking forward to checking it out more thoroughly

Kathy Purdy November 13, 2013, 7:19 pm

You’re welcome! You’ll probably want to go through the entire Colchicum category, and then browse the rest of the archives.

Denise October 29, 2013, 5:30 pm

I love looking through gardening and food blogs. My friend just told me about yours and also “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I just “Liked” his page and came to see your site. I’m glad when people share blogs with each other. Denise

commonweeder October 28, 2013, 10:12 am

Having spent time with you, I know you are a good teacher. You are always full of inspiration and education. Your audience was very lucky.

Donna@Gardens Eye View October 27, 2013, 6:52 pm

I hope one day to hear you speak Kathy

BestGardens October 22, 2013, 8:41 pm

No, never have been to the “deep South” of central Connecticut

Leslie October 21, 2013, 10:27 am

You you ever venture to the “deep South” of central Connecticut?