How to Grow Saffron


Gardeners grow saffron for use as both a spice and a dye. The dye produces a deep golden orange color, while the spice adds an aromatic flavor to may types of cuisine. Make saffron from the red stigmas of the saffron crocus, a bulb plant that produces lavender blooms in autumn. While the low-maintenance saffron crocus can be planted in many areas of the country, the stigmas are tedious to harvest. Grow saffron as an ornamental or harvest the stigmas to create your own saffron spice.

Step 1

Prepare a well-drained garden bed that receives full sun. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over the bed and apply a standard bulb fertilizer according to label instructions. Till the compost and fertilizer into the top 10 inches of the garden bed.

Step 2

Plant the saffron bulbs, which are called corms, 2 inches deep. Space the corms 4 to 6 inches apart in all directions.

Step 3

Water immediately after planting until the soil is moist, but not soggy. Water throughout summer only during extended dry periods, as saffron crocus do not tolerate wet soil.

Step 4

Harvest the bright red stigmas in fall when the flowers bloom. Pluck them out of the flowers and immediately place them into a glass jar.

Step 5

Cut off the foliage the following summer when it yellows and dies back on it own. The foliage often stays green throughout winter and spring.

Step 6

Fertilize saffron crocus each summer with a bulb fertilizer, following package instructions. Fertilize after the heat of summer when the plants begin growing new leaves.

Tips and Warnings

  • Saffron only requires about 6 inches of water a year. Do not plant near other plants that require frequent irrigation or the bulbs will rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Bulb fertilizer
  • Jar
  • Shears


  • Washington State Extension: Grow Your Own Saffron
Keywords: growing saffron, saffron crocus, bulb garden

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.