Crocus sieberi subsp. atticus 'Firefly'
Common Name: Sieber's crocus
Type: Bulb
Family: Iridaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: Soft lilac to pale violet
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Thrives in sandy or gritty soils, but performs poorly in heavy clay soils. Incorporate sand if necessary into planting area to improve soil drainage. Plant corms about 2-3” deep and 3-4” apart in the fall. If planted in the lawn, foliage should be left unmowed until it yellows (about 6 weeks after bloom). Naturalizes by offsets and self-seeding, often forming large drifts over time. Plants go dormant by late spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Crocus sieberi is a dwarf herbaceous perennial that is native to the Balkans, Greece and Crete. Flowers close at night and open up in the morning, but usually remain closed on rainy/cloudy days.

Subsp. atticus grows in low altitudes in Greece, primarily on slopes and open woodlands around Athens.

Genus name comes from krokos the ancient Greek name for saffron (Crocus sativus.) It is one of the most ancient plant names.

Specific epithet honors Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1789-1844) of Prague.

'Firefly' features soft lilac to pale violet flowers with yellow bottoms and golden throats in late winter to early spring on plants growing to 4" tall. Each plant has 3-6 basal, narrow, linear, dark green leaves, with each leaf being adorned with a very thin central silver stripe.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Squirrels, mice and other rodents can be problems. Squirrels seem particularly adept at locating, digging up and eating newly planted corms.

Garden Uses

Brings early spring bloom to the landscape. Mass in lawns, under trees or in sunny woodland areas. Large sweeping drifts can be spectacular. Also may be grouped in rock gardens, in front of shrubs, border fronts, along walks or in various other small areas around the home.