Saffron Planet

Growing saffron is surprisingly easy, and saffron readily grows in zones 6 and above without issue. With a touch of care and a spotlight you’ll also find out how to grow saffron in zones 3-5 as well!

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus

The spice saffron comes from the red thread-like stigmas of the saffron (Crocus sativus). Each flower only produces a couple of tiny threads, which when dried weigh almost nothing. Those tiny threads are incredibly flavorful, and there’s a reason that saffron is that the world’s costliest spice.

It takes about 150 flowers to yield just one gram of dried saffron, and an entire field may only produce a pound or two during a season. Now you understand how the brilliant red stigmas of this small purple flower can sell for the maximum amount as $10,000 per pound…

The thing is, nobody really needs a pound of saffron. Recipes are flavored with a couple of threads or a small pinch of this powerful spice.

Growing saffron reception is incredibly satisfying, and every one you would like may be a small patch to provide your family with the freshest, most flavorful saffron imaginable.

homegrown saffron


It’s important to notice that saffron isn’t the regular spring-blooming crocus. you would like a special variety, referred to as saffronyou can’t just harvest parts of normal spring-blooming crocus or maybe parts of just unspecified meadow saffron.

Saffron crocus may be a specific strain, and you ought to not consume any of the others.

Some nursery centers carry saffron bulbs, but we’ve ordered them within the past from both Fedco seeds and Renee’s Garden Seeds. They’re also incredibly inexpensive on amazon.


Unlike common spring crocus flowers, saffron are fall blooming. The plants are native to a Mediterranean climate, and that they go dormant during the summer to survive dry arid conditions. The bulbs sprout greenery within the early fall, before putting on a showy display lately fall purple flowers.

Saffron Bulbs

A summer dormancy period means the bulbs are usually dug at producers in mid-summer, and shipped for late summer planting. I received my saffron bulbs in late summer and planted them on September 1st.

Early September may be a little late here in Vermont, where the autumn season is usually curtail by early snow, but it had been still many time to reap some homegrown saffron.

Saffron Bulbs

Start by planting the saffron bulbs in sandy, well-drained soil that’s moderately rich in organic material. Our soils are clay-filled and wet, so I built a raised bed for growing saffron. The soil is formed from sand (harvested from the sting of our pond), combined with compost and a touch of sphagnum .

The saffron thrived therein light growing medium.

Plant saffron bulbs 3-4 inches deep, and 3-4 inches apart. The deep depth is vital because the bulbs will multiply by growing new bulbs above the old ones. If they’re planted to shallow there won’t be enough space for next year’s bulb to develop.

A few weeks after planting, the primary thin grassy foliage will appear….

Young Saffron Crocus Sprouts

Young saffron Sprouts

After the foliage is established, the saffron bulbs will send up numerous pale purple flowers. It’s quite impressive what percentage flowers one bulb can put call at a year, and albeit they’re planted quite ways apart, each bulb will put out an enormous cluster of saffron flowers.

It takes 5-8 weeks from planting for the primary flowers to seem , but once they start the flowers keep coming steadily for about 3 weeks. The prolific nature of the bulbs is vital since all only produces a couple of saffron threads.

cluster of saffron flowers

The saffron plants will only be visible for a quick fall season, and after a couple of months, they’ll go dormant again until the subsequent fall. there’ll be no trace of them whatsoever until that time.

It’s important to carefully mark the situation of your saffron bulbs so you don’t accidentally dig them while they’re dormant through the late winter, spring and summer season. Our saffron bulbs are during a purpose-built bed, and it’d dedicated to growing saffron in order that makes it easy.


Saffron naturally multiplies beneath the soil, and new bulbs will develop atop the first bulb. They’ll continue to grow up toward the surface until they’re just to shallow to remain healthy year-round. It’s important that they stay deep to weather dry summer conditions or cold winter weather.

Every 4-6 years, obtain the saffron bulbs and break apart the older bulbs from the newly developed bulbs. Replant all of them as you originally did, 3-4 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart. this may help avoid overcrowding and keep the saffron growing deep within the soil where it’s protected.


Saffron Flower in the Snow

Saffron plants can handle mild frosts and continue growing within the fall. That’s essential here in Vermont where early snows begin right as blooming is simply getting started. We’ll have 20 degree nights and snow flurries right in their peak bloom season.

For the foremost part, that’s not a problem and keeps on producing until the important hard frosts arrive and therefore the ground is blanketed with snow.

Saffron Flower within the Snow

Generally, saffron is taken into account consistently hardy to zone 6. If you’re in zone 6 or above, there’s no real got to do anything special to grow saffron. Just plant them within the fall, harvest and keep the soil weed-free during their dormant season.

In Zone 5, the saffron bulbs got to be heavily mulched after blooming to assist insulate the soil. If properly mulched, saffron bulbs are often overwintered successfully even in zone 5. I put down a few foot of straw mulch over our saffron patch even as the primary big snowstorm of the season was starting.

Remove the heavy mulch covering within the spring after the lasts frosts have passed, but don’t water or tend them (other than weeding) until the autumn .

Insulating Saffron Bulbs

Insulating Saffron Bulbs

In zones 3 and 4, saffron are often planted in pots and overwintered indoors. Start by planting several bulbs to a pot within the fall, all about 3 inches apart. Bury the pot outdoors during a growing bed, covering the rim by a minimum of 2 inches.

Planting Saffron Bulbs

After the saffron bulbs have flowered, it’s important to bring this pot indoors. Wait until the primary frosts have passed, but make certain to dig the pots up before the bottom actually freezes.

Bring the pots indoors and place them during a cool dry place that’s about 40-50 degrees. don’t WATER THEM.

The following spring, re-plant the pots call at the garden again. Wait until after the last frost date, and plant about an equivalent time as your tomatoes. Planting Saffron Bulbs

Planting saffron during a pot outdoors. The pot is brought inside to overwinter in very cold climates.

Harvesting Saffron

Saffron needs a dry dormant season, so confirm they’re during a well-drained bed and don’t water them until the autumn . Obviously some rain will happen during the summer months, that’s fine, just avoid watering them once you water the remainder of your garden.

Then within the fall months, the saffron will sprout up tiny grass-like stalks again and therefore the cycle will repeat itself.


The first year after planting, the bulbs are still getting established and should not produce heavily. Generally, the 2nd and 3rd years crops are the heaviest, then the bulbs are divided within the 4th year.

In the 2nd and 3rd year, each bulb should produce roughly 6 to 9 flowers, all with three precious saffron threads.

Generally, the entire flower is plucked within the field then they’re brought indoors to delicately harvest the threads during a clean, dry environment. Harvest the flowers mid-morning, once the flowers are fully opened and any morning dew has dried.

Bring them indoors then pluck out the saffron threads from each blossom.

Harvesting Saffron

Saffron must be dried immediately to stop spoilage, but since the threads are so small, they readily dry during a few hours within the sun. Place the fresh saffron threads inwarm, dry, well ventilated sunny space for a couple of hours and they’ll naturally dry on their own.

Once completely dry, store saffron in an airtight container.

Preserving saffron


Once you’ve got your own homegrown saffron, you’ll be amazed at the difference freshness can make. a number of that difference is quite just freshness…

Since saffron is so expensive, it’s common the victim of food fraud. Corn silk is cut, dried and died bright red then sold as saffron. you would possibly be convinced that your “saffron” is simply old and therefore the flavor is lost, or perhaps you’ve never even tasted real saffron in your life…just the imposters.

Once you’ve learned the way to grow saffron and you’re growing it in your own garden, you’ll make certain that each thread that goes into your cooking is that the real McCoy .

Saffron is common in Middle Eastern cooking, but it’s also quite popular in European and Nordic countries because of the spice trade. Historically it had been reserved for special occasions like Christmas, and there are still many celebration treats that just aren’t complete without it.

Saveur has a fantastic collection of recipes using saffron from around the world, and now that I even have the important thing in my hands I’m getting to work my way through it!

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