The 7 Reasons Why Crocuses Fall Over (Plus How to Fix It!)
Crocuses are one of the world’s most popular flowers, and not just because you can harvest saffron from them. As resilient as these blooms are though, they’re not indestructible. There are multiple reasons why your crocus plants may have wilted, and it’s not always easy identifying them. Here’s a quick and easy guide for you to follow!
Crocuses will wilt and fall over due to 1) natural cycles, 2) etiolation, 3) overwatering, 4) improper pruning, 5) hot temperatures, 6) weather damage, and 7) animal damage. Their wilting can be prevented by watering them regularly, delaying their pruning, and properly planting them.
It can be surprising waking up one morning to find your crocuses all wilted and floppy. What could have caused it? Is there a way to prevent it? Find out by reading further!
1. Natural Cycle
Crocuses will naturally wilt and fall over after 1–2 weeks of bloom. This is a normal and natural occurrence and is no cause for alarm.
Of course, crocuses don’t last forever. Like other flowers, crocuses will bloom and naturally wilt over time.
The common crocus, like Crocus biflorus, blooms in early spring, around February. Crocus sativus flowers, the producer of saffron, can be seen towards the end of the year in autumn.
After about 7 or 14 days of blooming, you’ll see the flower gradually bend and fall over time. The petals will become spent and withered, and the flowers and foliage will eventually die and drop on the soil.
This is normal and simply part of their natural life cycle and cannot be avoided. But don’t fret! Such plants aren’t dead—they’re simply resting and waiting for the next season.
Keeping crocuses in shady areas with under 2 hours of direct sun exposure will lead to weak and thin growth, causing them to fall over and droop prematurely. To treat this, grow crocuses with at least 2–6 hours of direct sun.
Crocus is generally known to be an easy-growing flower that can adapt to a wide range of conditions.
However, if they receive less than 2 hours of direct sunlight, this can lead to slowed and inconsistent growth. You’ll probably notice that flowers take much longer to develop and once they do, their stems will be thin and spindly.
The crocuses may also be leaning heavily towards the closest source of light. This is called etiolation.
Without proper light, the plant will have a harder time photosynthesizing and the flowers may fall over entirely. Not even hardy cacti are immune to this.
This is easy to fix with potted plants that can be moved to a brighter position. If you’ve planted them in the ground directly, simply plant some new crocuses in an area with about 2–6 hours of direct sun minimum.
Crocuses cannot tolerate excessive moisture and will droop and develop yellow foliage as a result of overwatering. Dig through the soil to save corms that are still healthy and firm..
Waterlogged soil is never a good thing for crocuses.
Not even established crocuses can tolerate overwatering. They will rapidly wilt after being suffocated in saturated soil. The leaves will also turn yellow before dying.
Check the roots and the corms—or the “seeds”—you planted to grow crocus flowers. Both the roots and the corms should be firm and healthy rather than black and mushy.
Crocuses grow from corms rather than bulbs. Corms are thick subterranean stems made of solid plant tissues. This is different from true bulbs which are composed of layers of modified leaf scales.
In cases like these where the plant is rotting from excessive moisture, it’s best to go through the soil and save whatever healthy corms remain.
To prevent overwatering crocus corms in the future, only water them when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch.
4. Improper Pruning
If a crocus has been pruned too early in the previous season, it will have fall over, have less energy to grow healthy flowers and may potentially have a shorter blooming period. Only remove the foliage after they’ve died completely.
This is one of the top reasons why crocuses will wilt, albeit one of the lesser-known ones.
It’s common practice to tidy up a plant and maintain its appearance. But if you’ve had these crocuses for a while now and have cut back their foliage after blooming last year, the plant has probably been weakened and is unable to keep its new flowers up.
Remember, crocus plants are perennials and will return every year without fail. However, to do this, they require their leaves to photosynthesize with and capture more energy.
Without enough energy to use for the next blooming season, the flowers will be weaker and have a shorter bloom window.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse this. So try to see this as a learning experience and remember to leave the foliage until the entirety has turned dry and brown.
5. Hot Temperatures
Crocuses are winter-hardy flowers and will wilt and fall over in temperatures over 70°F. They cannot tolerate warm climates and must be grown at least 60°F.
As adaptable as crocuses are, they are ultimately cool-weather flowers. True, it’s certainly possible to cheat by forcing them to grow by keeping them in the chiller in the beginning.
However, once they’re removed from the cold, these flowers won’t survive in consistently warm settings with temperatures above 70°F (20°C). They will rapidly wilt in the heat.
An easy way to solve this is to consider growing crocuses indoors or in greenhouses where the temperatures are around 60°F (15°C).
They can even grow in snowy landscapes and will thrive in zones 3–8.
Discover The 8 Best Plants to Grow in Zones 5a and 5b!
6. Weather Damage
When left outdoors, crocus flowers can fall over and get damaged by heavy storms and wind. Although it may be possible for some flowers to survive bad weather, it’s best to keep them indoors or protect them with tarps or blankets.
Unfortunately, as much as we love plants, sometimes mother nature herself is the very reason our plants may look so forlorn.
Due to their small size and delicate build, crocuses can easily be flattened and bent by strong winds and beaten by heavy rain or snow.
Healthy crocuses that are snapped at the base can be kept in a small vase or jar to enjoy for a little while longer. Otherwise, the flowers that have only been slightly damaged may continue to flourish despite the mishap.
Protecting these plants can be difficult, given their low-growing nature. But it’s not impossible! If your daily news reports inform you of any heavy rain or wind, consider protecting outdoor crocuses with plant covers.
This can be done by securing the tarps over the flowers by laying bricks or heavy stones on the edges. Be careful not to squish them in the process.
Potted crocus plants can be brought indoors for safety and moved back out once the weather has calmed.
7. Animal Damage
Damage from birds, deer, squirrels, and mice can result in crocuses falling over and dying. Each animal is different and requires different strategies. For most scenarios, however, it’s best to keep them in fenced areas and protect them with a net.
To determine if animals are to blame for your sad-looking droopy crocuses, take a closer look at them.
Trampled and missing flowers can be due to hungry deer. If the crocuses have fallen over and are tattered and pecked, you likely have a bird issue.
Yellow crocuses are the most vulnerable to bird damage due to their bright and vibrant colors. They are also the most likely type to fall over due to this.
Furthermore, if your garden is missing entire crocus corms, they were probably dug up by squirrels. Even dogs and mice (Or rats) can be an issue by pushing crocuses over to eat them.
In other words, humans aren’t the only ones that enjoy crocuses. What’s worse is that crocus flowers are sterile and cannot develop fertile seeds, much like garlic.
Discover more in Do Garlic and Onion Hybridize? (Is It Possible?)
Therefore, damage inflicted by animals can cause problems with their reproduction. In severe cases, it can even kill the plant.
How you protect your crocuses moving forward depends on the critter, as each of these animals is different. Generally, though, it’ll probably be useful to set up a fence around your crocuses and cover them with a net at night to ensure they aren’t harmed.
3 Steps to Prevent Crocuses From Falling Over
Prevent crocuses from falling over and keep them healthy with 1) consistent watering, 2) delayed pruning, and 3) proper planting.
Crocuses need less care than most people think! By following these few actionable steps, you’ll realize how easy it is to grow and maintain upright crocuses.
1. Consistent Watering
To maintain healthy crocuses and prevent them from falling over, provide them with 1 inch of water per week when the top 2 inches of soil have dried. In cases of snow and rain, extra water is not needed.
Your watering schedule will depend heavily on the specific climate in your region and the medium your crocuses are growing in.
When gardening outdoors, it’s also crucial to take the weather into account. There’s no need to water them after they’ve already experienced rain or even snow.
A light layer of snow should keep the crocuses moist and will eventually melt as temperatures rise, providing them with even more moisture.
When they’re first planted, their soil must be kept moist yet not soggy. This can be done by letting the top 2 (5 cm) inches of soil dry out before watering again.
The corms can tolerate occasionally dry soil if needed. In most cases though, it’s best to water them regularly, even while they’re actively blooming. Just be careful not to water them too much or you’ll end up with wilted crocuses again!
2. Delayed Pruning
Crocuses require their foliage to photosynthesize even after their flowers die. Therefore, it is essential to leave the leaves and only prune them after they have become completely dry and brown to prevent drooping.
As mentioned previously, crocuses are low-maintenance flowers. Even though unpruned plants are not be the prettiest thing in the world, you don’t need to cut back their foliage after bloom.
Remember, this waiting period is needed for the crocuses to continue photosynthesizing and save enough energy for next year and naturally multiply.
If the crocuses are growing outdoors and are making it difficult for you to mow your lawn, consider planting them in another area where they can grow freely.
What if you accidentally remove the leaves while they’re still green? No worries. Consider replacing it with a few extra crocuses in the next growing season and simply let the foliage of other crocuses turn brown before removing them.
3. Proper Planting
Crocuses are less likely to droop and wilt when they are properly planted at least 4 inches deep in well-draining soil. By growing healthy flowers, they have a higher chance of tolerating damage and staying in bloom.
The last but most important step to protect crocuses from premature wilting is to plant them properly.
When growing crocus, plant them pointy side up at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep into the soil.
If your crocuses fell over and were damaged by squirrels, you want to avoid shallow planting, as this makes it harder for them to dig up the corms.
A standard 6-inch pot can fit about 15 crocus corms and can easily be kept safe indoors. Plant them in a bright area and well-draining soil, preferably not clay.
It sounds simple yet by planting them properly in their ideal conditions, your crocuses are less likely to droop or fall over too early in the next season.
Remember, crocuses are known for their resilience and ability to handle adversities, so much so that they’ve become a symbol of joy in bleak winters.
It doesn’t take much effort to cultivate them and with a little patience, you’ll have more crocuses to look forward to!
Will crocuses continue to bloom after falling over?
Crocuses that naturally wilt and fall over due to normal age will bloom again in the next season, provided they’re properly cared for. But if the plant has been damaged or destroyed by weather, or animals, or is suffering from rot, the plant may not bloom again.
Do crocus flowers spread?
It is common for crocuses to naturalize or reproduce every year on their own without much human intervention. This is done by producing more corms underground and slowly spreading. Nevertheless, wilting and falling over is not part of their reproductive process, as these flowers are sterile and cannot self-seed.
Summary of Why Crocuses Fall Over
Aside from natural aging, it’s not normal for crocuses to wilt and fall over. Drooping crocuses can be a result of etiolation, overwatering, improper pruning, hot temperatures, weather damage, and animal damage.
Although there is no way to reverse the damage, it is possible to grow healthier crocuses and prevent them from falling over by giving them an inch of water per week, cutting their foliage only after they die, and planting them properly at least 4 inches deep.
- “Crocus” by n/a in NC State University
- “Crocus sativus” by n/a in NC State University
- “Crocus sativus L.: A comprehensive review” by R. Srivastava, H. Ahmed, R. K. Dixit, Dharamveer, and S. A. Saraf in PubMed Central