Where’s The Best Place to Buy Colchicums?

– Posted in: Colchicums

Where’s the best place to buy colchicums?

Two people have asked me that in the past week, and I figure if two readers are actually asking me, there must be quite a few more who are wondering the same thing, but not wondering aloud.

When is the best time to buy colchicums?

I find I can’t talk about where without also talking about when and why. First, let’s review a little bit about colchicums. Their leaves come up in spring. The leaves die down in summer. The corms bloom in September and October. So the ideal time to plant them is late August or early September. Which means the best time to buy them is before September. You order them from the same catalogs as you do daffodils and crocus, but they ship them in late August/early September, so that you can plant them right before they bloom. (I’ve been told you can buy them in garden centers, but I’ve never seen them sold around here.)

Waterlily colchicum

‘Waterlily’ is frequently sold online and is hard to mistake for other colchicums when in bloom.

Why do you want to buy colchicums?

If your answer to that question is, “Because they’re pretty!” and you don’t care what the variety name is, then shop by price. Regrettably, many colchicums sold online are not the correct variety, and some companies are more zealous to ensure their colchicums are true to name than others.

Sold as Colchicum speciosum, but it's not

If you don’t care whether this is the true Colchicum speciosum as long as it blooms reliably, then order your corms from the least expensive merchant.

Ok, where’s the best place to buy colchicums if I don’t care what they’re called?

McClure and Zimmerman often offer a colchicum sampler collection, which is a great way to try several kinds of colchicum for a reasonable price. I have found that McClure and Zimmerman colchicums are not always true to name, however, so I don’t buy from them anymore, because I have become something of a connoisseur. If you’re not picky, they currently offer two colchicums on sale. However, they will have already bloomed and you won’t see anything until next spring, when the leaves come up.

Brent & Becky’s Bulbs also sells them, and I occasionally shop there if I am buying something else at the same time. I am not sure if anyone on the Brent & Becky’s staff “knows their colchicums,” but one year they refused to ship them and refunded my money because when they got them from the supplier they didn’t think the quality was up to their standards. That impressed me. But they are currently sold out.

White Flower Farm also sells colchicums but they are sold out. I have never ordered colchicums from them, but I have ordered other plants and I was happy with them.

Beaconsfield or Disraeli

One of these is ‘Disraeli’ and one is ‘Beaconsfield’. It turns out Benjamin Disraeli was the first Earl of Beaconsfield, so I think these are the same plant.

Where should I buy colchicums if I want to be sure I’m getting the variety I ordered?

My two favorite places to get them from are Odyssey Bulbs and Daffodils and More, because they are more likely to have varieties that I don’t already have. They are both very small businesses and personally involved in the selection they offer. I believe they both grow some, if not all, of the bulbs they sell. They don’t offer the same varieties each year, as once they’ve sold a variety they have to build up stock before they can sell it again. I learned this the hard way: if either of these merchants is offering a colchicum you want this year, get it while you can! You may not see it offered again for a few years.

Mark it on your calendar!

Most digital calendar programs allow you to schedule reminders as far into the future as you wish. So somewhere around June 15th of next year, enter a reminder to go colchicum shopping. Some bulb merchants have early-bird specials that you may be able to take advantage of, and your more likely to get what you want if you order early. You may have noticed that individual colchicum corms can be pretty pricey. I usually only buy one of a variety I’m interested in, and dig it up and divide it as it multiplies. Also, one corm will have many flowers, even the first year, so don’t let price stop you. Take it slow and enjoy each new acquisition for the beauty it brings to autumn.

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.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

Carol October 29, 2014, 6:49 am

Colchicums multiply quite fast. I dug up and moved some this summer and was impressed by how many corms there were. I also moved them to better places around shrubs where the spring leaves will seem less obtrusive.

Kathy Purdy October 29, 2014, 9:14 am

Most kinds do multiply quickly. You would think the price would go down on many of them. That is why I usually only buy one of any particular variety and multiply them at home.

LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD October 15, 2014, 11:38 am

I keep thinking I will add these to my garden so this was a perfect post and I am going to add a dated reminder to myself immediately. Thanks for all the info.

Donna@GardensEyeView October 13, 2014, 5:25 pm

Kathy I will bookmark this post as I would love to get some more of these…so my calendar is marked for June 15th and sites bookmarked.

commonweeder October 13, 2014, 7:44 am

Lots of good information here. I like the way you always give important context for your advice.

Hilda Morrill October 12, 2014, 4:25 pm

Thank you, Kathy. I always learn something from reading your blog!

Carol October 12, 2014, 8:00 am

Good advice, Kathy. I have also purchased colchicums and autumn crocus on clearance in the fall and had good results. But, I didn’t really care what varieties of colchicums I was getting.

Kathy Purdy October 12, 2014, 8:22 am

I remembered that, Carol. That’s why I made the distinction between the picky shoppers and the as-long-as-it’s-pretty shoppers. But it seems like a lot of suppliers are sold out.

Frank October 11, 2014, 10:43 pm

You’re making me worry about colchicums I could have bought but then was either too late for or couldn’t fit it into the final cut…. I have my fingers crossed they’ll be offered again next year, because suddenly I really NEED them!

Kathy Purdy October 12, 2014, 8:20 am

Frank, it may take these smaller vendors a year or two to build up stocks, but I am sure they intend to offer them again. If you’re really worried, drop them a line and let them know which ones you’re interested in.

kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern October 11, 2014, 11:45 am

Thanks for these two great resources! Now I understand that I was waiting to buy Colchicums until I had a good source. Thanks Kathy!

Joanne Toft October 11, 2014, 9:38 am

Thanks Kathy! I have been reading your posts and realize this is a plant that was in my mothers garden that I could not identify. She could no longer tell me what it was when it bloomed in September but looked like a crocus. I tried to find it the next year but it did not make it. That garden is now gone as is my mother but am excited to plant some next fall in her memory. I have marked my calendar!

Kathy Purdy October 11, 2014, 10:15 am

Joanne, I’m so glad you’ve identified a plant from your mother’s garden. You can browse the Colchicum category on this website and maybe you’ll see one that most looks like the ones in your mother’s garden. There are some true crocuses that also bloom in the fall, but they bloom later and are more of a blue-purple than a pink-purple.