Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativa) is a beautiful flowering plant, as well as the source of one of the most expensive spices in the world, saffron. The showy lily-shaped blue-tinted flowers appear in the fall. A small bit of saffron is harvested by hand from each stamen of the flowers. About 70,000 flowers will produce only a pound of saffron. Because you need only a very small amount of saffron to flavor foods, you'll find that a few saffron crocuses should provide enough of the spice for the average cook.
Buy saffron crocus corms, and keep them dry and cool until you are ready to plant them. Saffron crocuses may be labeled as bulbs, although the botanically correct term is corms. Bulbs are pear-shaped with a pointed end where the stems emerge. They are composed of fleshly layers that peel off (an onion is a bulb). Corms are round with flattened tops and bottoms, and are very firm (gladioluses are also corms).
Plant saffron crocuses in the spring. Choose a site in full sun with good drainage. If you live in an area where the summers are rainy, plant the corms in a container.
Mix organic matter, such as compost, with the soil to make a rich, friable planting medium. Use a rich, loose potting soil in containers.
Use a small hand trowel to dig a small hole 4 to 6 inches deep for each corm. Space the holes 3 to 4 inches apart.
Place one corm in each hole with the nose up and the roots down. If you can't tell for sure which way the corm goes, lay it on its side.
Cover the corms with soil and water well. Apply bulb fertilizer as recommended by the manufacturer.