How to grow saffron bulbs
How to grow saffron bulbs
The ultimate guide to growing the best quality saffron at home
We have all heard about the reputation of saffron in the world (in case you didn’t hear, it’s the most expensive, tasty, and aromatic spice globally). And to be honest, it’s very tempting when you see the colorful dishes and beverages people make with saffron.
Although you can order saffron strands right away and make one of those delicious dishes, you can also grow your own saffron at home. It may take some time and effort to learn how to grow saffron bulbs, but the result will be worthwhile. That’s why in this article, we will lay out all you need to know about planting, growing, and harvesting your own saffron flowers at home.
So, keep reading to learn more!
What does saffron need to grow?
Before getting to how to grow saffron bulbs, let’s see what the crocus needs to grow best and whether you can provide the necessary environment or not.
Saffron flower grows and blooms best in hot and dry weather. As a result, you’ll need to provide the following elements before planting saffron corms:
- Well-drained sandy soil or loamy sand.
- 8 hours of sun or 10 hours of plant light each day.
- A clay flower pot that drains well.
- 4-20 degrees temperature.
- About 6 saffron bulbs per family member (the number depends on how many saffron dishes you make each year, multiply the number by the number of family members to plant enough saffron for a year.)
Although what saffron crocus needs do not end with the above tips, it’s necessary to provide them. Otherwise, the saffron crocus will rot or won’t bloom at all.
How to grow saffron bulbs step by step
The best time to grow saffron is late spring or early summer. If you plant your crocus during this period of time, you’ll be able to harvest saffron threads before winter. Now, let’s dive in how to plant saffron bulbs step by step.
1. Purchase saffron corms
You can purchase saffron bulbs from a reputable supplier or on amazon. Always pay attention to reviews and ratings before buying the crocus. Moreover, don’t take autumn crocus bulbs as the saffron crocus. They look the same and bloom at the same time but they are not healthy to eat.
2. Buy a suitable planter
As we mentioned before, saffron needs well-drained soil. As a result, it’s best to choose a planter with adequate draining, such as any clay pot. However, pay attention to the texture of the planter, for example, glazed pots won’t drain well.
Additionally, after purchasing a suitable planter, punch two holes at the bottom of the pot. In this way, the soil can drain well, saffron crocus can breathe, and the flower will bloom best in this condition.
Keep in mind that you need to plant each corm 5 cm (2 inches) away from the other. So, choose a pot that can hold all your corms well.
3. Fill the bottom layer of the pot with sand
Saffron grows best in sandy soil. So, if you couldn’t file the right soil for it, just fill the bottom layer of your pot with sand. Purchase a mixture of sand that drains as fast as possible, such as coarse sand or fine gravel. You can also combine milled pit and potting soil with coarse sand and fill 1/6 layer of the planter with it.
4. Fill up the pot with proper soil
There are only three steps left to learn how to grow saffron bulbs completely. Now, fill 5/6 of the pot’s depth with potting soil. This means you need to leave a 5-cm-space from the top of the planter. The rest of the space will be filled after you plant saffron bulbs. You can also fill up the planter completely and then dig 5 cm holes for planting the bulbs.
5. Plant the saffron bulbs
Just like we mentioned before, place saffron corms about 5 cm away from each other and then add the rest of the potting soil to fill up the planter. Don’t forget that you should place the root side (rounded end) of the corms down and the other side up. Also, make the holes shallow to avoid suffocating the bulbs.
If the bulbs have green sprouts, avoid filling up the pot with soil and leave the green part out. After you’re done planting, it’s time to place the pot in a room with 35-48 F (2-9 C.) temperatures. Situate the corms in front of a window and make sure they get 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
If your city’s weather is always cold, it’s better to use a heat lamp to create the necessary environment for saffron to bloom.
6. Water the plants
Irrigate the plant once and wait for a couple of weeks (6 to 10 weeks) until the green sprouts start to grow. You don’t need to water it again before green sprouts show up. After that place the pot in a warmer environment, about 50-70 F (10-21 C.), and water daily. Although let the soil drain thoroughly before each irrigation. Don’t forget that saffron crocus doesn’t like wet soil or humid climate.
Now that you know how to grow saffron bulbs, it’s time to learn how to harvest them.
When can I harvest the saffron?
After you see the first signs of growth, it’ll take around a month or less for saffron to bloom. Once the flowers opened up, you can harvest them. it’s better to harvest saffron as early as possible. The more saffron flowers are exposed to sunlight, the more they will lose their quality and taste.
Harvest them early in the morning, usually before 9 AM, because that’s the only time you’ll see the flowers open. After that, they’ll close up during the day until the next morning. Overall, you’ll have about 2 to 3 weeks to harvest the flowers before they die.
After cutting off the flowers, pull out each stigma, and dry them for later use. If it’s hard to pluck out each stigma by hand, use a well-cleaned tweezer to pull them out. On the other hand, you can also make tea with saffron petals or eat them. they can be used for culinary or medicinal purposes.
How to dry and store saffron strands
The most important part of learning how to grow saffron bulbs is over. After you harvest your first saffron flowers, you can understand why this heavenly spice is the most useful and expensive spice in the whole world.
Now, it’s time to take advantage of your efforts and taste this aromatic herb. But before that, you should leave the stigmas on a paper towel for around 3 to 4 days to dry out. After you felt they have become more hardened, you can put them in a suitable container.
Keep them in a dry place at room temperature. It’s better to store them in an airtight container. Also try to keep them away from direct sunlight. You can use a pinch of saffron for your every dish and enjoy its unique taste and aroma for as long as you want.