Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'
Common Name: snow 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: Deep violet-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut


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 the planting area to improve soil drainage. Plant corms about 3-4” deep and 3-6” apart in the fall. If planted in the lawn, foliage should be left unmowed until it yellows (about 6 weeks after bloom). Plants naturalize by offsets and self-seeding, often forming large drifts over time. Plants go dormant by late spring.

‘Ruby Giant’ is reportedly sterile.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Crocus tommasinianus is native to hillsides and woodland areas from southern Hungary into the northern Balkans. It is commonly called snow crocus because it is one of the earliest of the crocuses to bloom. Pale lavender to reddish-purple, long-tubed, goblet-shaped flowers with white throats bloom in late winter to early spring (March in St. Louis) on plants rising to 4" tall. Bloom typically occurs before the bloom of the Dutch hybrid crocuses. Each plant has 3-5 basal, narrow, linear leaves at the time of bloom. Flowers close at night and open up in the morning, but usually remain closed on rainy/cloudy days.

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

Specific epithet name honors Muzo Giuseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1794-1879), botanist from Trieste.

‘Ruby Giant’ is a cultivar that grows to 4-6” tall and features star-shaped, deep violet-purple flowers with yellow-orange anthers.


No serious insect or disease problems. Squirrels, mice and other rodents can be problems for many species of crocus, but reportedly less so for C. tommasinianus.


Brings late winter/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, along walks or in various other small areas around the home.