Colchicum laetum

Common Name: autumn crocus 
Type: Bulb
Family: Colchicaceae
Native Range: Caucasus
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Bloom Description: Pale violet to pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plant corms 2-3” deep and 6” apart in August for bloom the same year in fall. If necessary, dig and divide during the mid-summer dormant period.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Colchicum laetum, commonly known as autumn crocus, is a cormous perennial that typically grows to 4-6” tall and is noted for its fall bloom of crocus-like flowers (to 2” across). It is native to steppes, foothills and meadows from southeastern Russia to the Caucasus. Plants send up somewhat unattractive foliage (3-4 dark green linear basal leaves) in spring. Leaves gradually yellow and die by summer when the plants go dormant. Naked flower stems rise from the ground to 4-6” tall in late summer to early fall bearing funnel-shaped, pale violet to lilac to pink, star-shaped flowers with yellow anthers. Flowers typically bloom September to October. Each corm will typically produce 1-4 flowers.

Autumn crocuses are in their own family, the Colchicum family, but some experts continue to assert they actually belong in the Lily family. By contrast, spring-blooming crocuses (genus Crocus), sometimes referred to as the true crocuses, are in the Iris family and are botanically unrelated to the autumn crocuses.

Genus name come from the abundance of the plant in Colchis, the Black Sea region of Georgia, Caucasus.

Specific epithet from Latin means bright or vivid.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails. Weak flower stems tend to flop.


Meadows, woodlands beds. Good for pockets in the landscape where spring and summer plants are fading. Good around patios or along walks. Plant with low ground covers which may help support weak flower stems. Generally inappropriate for prominent parts of beds or borders because of the unsightly appearance of the spring foliage as it yellows and declines on its way toward summer dormancy.