Colchicum: types and varieties, care tips

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Colchicum or Colchicum (lat. Colchicum ) is a perennial plant belonging to the Colchicum family. The people call it “autumn” for the peculiarity of releasing flower stalks with the onset of the first cold weather. Some varieties bloom in late autumn. The homeland of this culture is the Mediterranean. Also, in its natural environment, the flower grows in Asia and Africa, and is found in some European countries.


Colchicum is a herbaceous plant with a short growing season. It has many straight shoots 15–40 cm long. The bulbs are oblong, up to 7 cm in diameter, with scales that are slightly folded into a tube in the upper part. Leaf plates are lanceolate, elongated, collected in a basal rosette, develop during the spring months, dry out in summer.

The flowering of this culture begins in the second half of August – early September. Lasts until frost. On a peduncle about 30 cm long, a single funnel-shaped flower is formed, 8 cm in diameter. The petals are slightly bent.

Color can be very different. On the surface of the petals there are always small dots, strokes. On one shoot, 2 – 3 flowers can develop.

The fruit is a rounded three-celled capsule with large brown seeds. After the shell of the fruit turns brown, it is cut off and left to ripen in a dry, ventilated place. After full ripening, the seeds are removed. The fruit of the colchicum is formed in the bulb, spends the winter underground, with the onset of spring appears on the surface of the soil.

When growing this crop, it is important to remember that all its parts are poisonous.

Species and varieties

Most autumn varieties bloom in autumn, but there are some that bloom in spring. Both types are described below. They are most often found on the sites of domestic gardeners.

Colchicum yellow ( Colchicum luteum ). Blooms in early spring after the snow has melted. It is a shrub about 20 cm high. Leaf plates are belt-like, flat, rich green. Funnel-shaped flowers, bright yellow color. Their diameter is 3-4 cm.

Colchicum Hungarian ( Colchicum hungaricum ). It is considered one of the earliest primroses. Its flowering begins after the snow melts. Leaf plates are formed in the root zone. On their surface there is a white pubescence. The flowers are white or burgundy.

Colchicum splendid ( Colchicum speciosum ). A bush about 40 cm high. It has straight, belt-like leaves 40–50 cm long. The flowers are large, lilac in color, 10 cm in diameter. Flowering occurs in autumn. On one peduncle develops 1 – 2 buds.

Regel’s colchicum ( Colchicum regelii ). It has slightly elongated bulbs, from which 3-5 or more leaf blades develop with even or jagged edges. Flowers white color. On the wrong side of the petals there are longitudinal purple stripes. On one peduncle develops from 1 to 3 flowers. Flowering begins at the end of March.

Ankara colchicum ( Colchicum ancyrense ). It blooms in early spring immediately after the snow melts. In each instance, the bulbs form narrow grooved leaf plates with a ciliated edge. The color of the foliage is rich green. The flowers are funnel-shaped, with a bluish-green color of the petals.

Autumn colchicum ( Colchicum autumnale ). Slightly higher than other varieties of colchicum. It grows up to 30 – 40 cm. The leaves are erect, elongated, narrowed at the top, dense, bright green. The flowers are white-lilac, funnel-shaped, 5-6 cm in diameter.


“White” – a variety no more than 15 cm high. 5 – 7 buds of a white shade develop on one peduncle. Perianth lemon yellow.

“Terry” – grows up to 25 cm. It has dark green belt-like foliage 3–4 cm wide. Inflorescences are single, 5 cm in diameter. The variety is distinguished by lush flowers, which consist of many petals. Flowering occurs in the first half of October.

‘Naddiste’ is a Czech variety with pale pink funnel-shaped inflorescences.

These photos illustrate the description of the colchicum flower (colchicum) of various types and varieties:

Planting bulbs

For growing colchicum, open areas are chosen where sunlight will constantly fall on the plant. The soil should be drained, loose, contain nutrients, have high acidity.

Colchicum will not be able to grow on heavy clay substrates. It is worth considering that this culture reacts negatively to stagnant moisture, so any hills on the site are suitable for it.

Choosing the time for planting bulbs, you need to focus on the timing of flowering. So, if the buds bloom in autumn, planting material should be planted in the first half of August. The distance between the bulbs should be 30 cm.

When deepening the bulbs, it is required to ensure that the tubular scales remain on the surface of the earth, as flower stalks will soon form from them. 5 to 7 days before planting, the area intended for this is dug up, sand and humus are added. Bulb flowering can be observed 6 to 7 weeks after planting.

Growing from seed

The seed method of reproduction of colchicum is rarely used by flower growers, as it requires a lot of time, and flowering occurs only 6 years after planting. This method produces some spring-flowering varieties of this crop, as well as those that do not develop daughter bulbs.

Sowing seeds is carried out in light nutritious moist soil, slightly pressing them. Sprinkle a layer of sand on top. If sowing in open ground is carried out in late autumn, during the winter season the seeds will undergo natural stratification.

If the seed is planned to be sown in the spring, 6 months before that they are stratified by placing it in a damp cloth and storing it in a cool place. After the emergence of shoots, the crops are rowed, leaving 15 cm between the plants. The first shoots of this crop may appear in 1 to 2 years, so you should be patient.


Colchicum (colchicum) is classified as a plant that, during cultivation, can do without any care after planting in open ground. However, if you want to get a beautifully flowering well-groomed bush, you will have to devote a little time to it.

  • Watering. When watering colchicum, it is important to observe moderation. Water procedures will be required only during flowering. You need to irrigate the bushes only in the heat and drought. The flower reacts extremely painfully to excess moisture in the soil, so a long absence of watering is better than their excess.
  • Topdressing. Fertilizer is enough to apply a couple of times per season. For this purpose, a mineral complex containing nitrogen is suitable. In autumn, the soil needs to be nourished with organic matter.
  • Transfer. In one place, a perennial flower is able to successfully grow and develop for 7 years. However, over time, the buds become smaller, and the bushes grow strongly, which negatively affects their appearance and makes transplanting difficult. For this reason, experienced gardeners recommend changing the place of the colchicum every 4 years. This work should be carried out in August, when the plant is at rest. Bulbs will need to be dug up after the foliage dries, that is, in the middle of summer. The bulbs must be cleaned from the ground, washed, kept in a solution of potassium permanganate for half an hour, dried and put in a dry, dark place. In August, prepared bulbs can be planted in the place allotted for them in the garden.

  • Preparing for the winter. After the plant has faded, cut off its aerial part, leaving 10 cm from the surface of the earth. From above, the site is covered with compost or a layer of mulch from dry foliage or straw. Many highly decorative autumn varieties are frost-sensitive, so they should be covered with agrofiber or spruce branches.
  • Fight against diseases and pests. This flower is quite vulnerable. With excessive watering, being in shaded places, it is attacked by snails and slugs. Gastropods eat the leaves of the plant. For the same reasons, rot forms on the bulbs. To prevent rot and pests, the area around is sprinkled with mulch. A layer of crushed shells or small pebbles, scattered near the bush, helps to cope with the stagnation of moisture in the soil.

If the colchicum is affected by gray rot, you can try to reanimate it with a fungicide treatment, for example, Topaz, Acrobat, Bravo. A severely affected flower cannot be saved. It will have to be dug up and destroyed. In the future, it is necessary to adjust the watering.

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