The Saffron Experiment: One Year, New Sprouts

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I’ve been holding my breath since mid-September, waiting for signs of life from the saffron corms I planted at this time last year. Honestly it’s been a bit of an obsession, though I have refrained from checking every hour. Just once a day has been enough, and yesterday I was finally rewarded when I found two little sprouts in one of the pots and one more in the other.

I have not seen any saffron sprouts in the ground areas yet, but I’m still hoping and watching.

A recap for those new to the experiment: I planted 50 saffron crocus (crocus sativus) corms last fall to find out if I could actually grow my own saffron. Ten corms went into pots that I kept indoors throughout the winter and moved outdoors in the spring; the rest went into the garden in an area that we didn’t plan to water much as saffron crocuses don’t tolerate wet conditions very well and the corms can rot if over watered. Every few months I’ve posted reports on the saffron’s progress, and my last report in May explained how they had lost all their leaves and slipped into dormancy for the summer. Saffron crocuses prefer cool weather, blooming in the fall and retaining their green leaves until the warm days of summer begin.

Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have photos of the beautiful flowers and a chance to harvest the red stigmas. Once that is done, I plan to do some informal taste tests to see how my homegrown saffron stacks up against purchased saffron. Yes, I just said that with a straight face. Sort of.

More Saffron Experiment Reports

The Saffron Experiment

The Saffron Experiment, Part 2: We Have Sprouts!

Saffron in the Snow

The Saffron Experiment, Six Months and Counting

The Saffron Experiment: Dormancy

Places to Buy Crocus Sativus

Blooming Bulb

White Flower Farm

Places to Buy Saffron

Vanilla Saffron Imports

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  1. says

    Thanks Susan and DaviMack! Each flower produces 3 red stigmas, the part with the flavor, so theoretically if the experiment is a 100% success I could have 150 stigmas to work with. If they have great flavor, only a few will be needed to color and flavor a dish; if the flavor is not as vibrant, then it will take a few more. Right now the experiment is only tracking at 6% growth rate, which could give me just enough for one dish. If nothing else, the experiment will demonstrate why saffron is so expensive. :-)

  2. says

    Wow – not quite as easy as your “grow new scallions from the roots” trick.

    I have always wanted to grow both my own saffron (since it is SO expensive) and my own ginger. I will be watching and waiting to see how your experiment turns out.

  3. says

    Hi D Wilson! No, this experiment does not have the nearly instant gratification of the scallions trick. I’ve heard that growing ginger is pretty easy, so that’s next on the agenda. I have some in the kitchen now, waiting to try.

  4. says

    We planted crocuses in our yard. Never thought to pick the stamens for saffron. Does it have to be a certain type of saffron, or will any kind work?

  5. says

    Oh Claire, it seems I missed the deadline. Hopefully the next one!

    Olga, for some things I can be very patient. :-)

    Nate, saffron comes from one particular type of crocus, the crocus sativus, which must be planted in the fall and takes one full year before it flowers and produces the three red stigmas.

  6. maria says


    I am on my second year of harvest!!! Today I picked 18 stamens and I have more coming. Here in Ga. they are multiplying quickly and I am really excited. Does anyone know the best time to pick them? I have been picking early first day of bloom but wonder when the best flavor requiers waiting a bit longer.


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