Serrano saffron (Crocus carpetanus)

The Crocus carpetanus is a herbaceous plant belonging to the family Iridaceae. It can be seen practically throughout the Mediterranean and in some places in Asia Minor. Its name derives from the Greek “Kroke” which means filament, commonly known as Serrano Saffron. It is a fairly strong species, which due to its beautiful foliage and flowering is widely used to decorate gardens and home interiors.


The Crocus carpetanus is a perennial species rounded bulb with approximately six cm in diameter, covered with fine fibers and slightly crosslinked, which become flattened on the base. Its linear, semi-cylindrical leaves with rolled edges can be seen during the time the flower remains open or they can appear after flowering, the underside shows quite soft furrows.

Its flowers appear before the leaves and have a shape similar to bells, they are one to three of a tone that can go from violet to purplish white, sometimes with darker veins. They have a white upper bract, while their hypantial tube is also white with a yellow to orange stiletto and three multipartite twigs.

Crocus carpetanus plantation

Regarding the cultivation of saffron, it can be said that it is very practical and easy to do. The Crocus carpetanus and as with most of the genus Crocus, you should plant it in the ground during the fall. Now, if you want to achieve better results, then you must first fertilize the soil with an organic product, if possible it is slow release.

Like any saffron plant, mountain saffron is sensitive to stagnant water, so you should try to mix gravel preferably from the river or pumice stone with the soil. Place the specimens in full sun for much of the day, so you will achieve better results with the flowers. This plant tolerates low temperatures, to the point that some varieties of crocus flourish during seasonal frosts.

The humidity present in the soil and the air has a lot to do with its growth. For that same reason, the plant becomes inactive during dry periods ; while at the beginning of the rains, the bulbs return to produce roots. Remember, if you plant saffron in the open air, you will not need to water it frequently, the rain is enough to cover its requirements for the vital liquid.

Now and if you keep the bulbs in pots inside the house, try to water as long as the soil is dry. During the winter, water only once a week, it is the best way for the plant to comply with the vegetative rest. This plant has the characteristic of self-sowing and producing bulbs by itself. That is why it is important that you dig up the bulbs at least every four years for division.

If you want the propagation by seeds, you must prepare a sufficiently fertile seedbed that contains river sand and then sow the capsules during the autumn and for the development of the bulbs to be faster, make sure that the selected place to place the seedbed has a temperature warm, indoors may be enough.

Young specimens rarely flower before reaching two years of life. That is why it is recommended to dispense with the seed method and use the propagation method, dividing the main bulbs from the smaller secondary ones. It is a fairly easy procedure, which in no case leads to putting the mother’s bulb at risk. It is important to carry it out at the end of flowering or early autumn.

Diseases and parasites

Remember that the Crocus carpetanus is a plant that prefers humid soils, for this reason it is important that you treat your saffron plants with fungicidal agents to avoid the appearance of fungal diseases caused by excess humidity. Likewise, you should always be attentive to the appearance of insects and parasites such as mites and bedbugs; that attack and damage stems, leaves and flowers of the plant, even causing death.

To avoid the appearance of diseases, it is suggested to apply preventive treatments with pesticides. In any case, the treatment should be applied before and during the flowering period. In relation to fungicides, these must be applied before the buds begin to open.

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