The way to Develop Saffron: The Most Costly Spice

The most exotic and sought-after rare spice in the world, the saffron crocus is a beautiful flower loved by people all over the world. While the flower itself is small if you are growing saffron, it is small for the even smaller three stigmas that sit in its center. After drying, the saffron loses 90% of its weight, making it worth more than several times its own weight in gold. Learning how to grow saffron is easy! This sturdy little flower is a joy to see and well worth a spot in the garden!

The saffron crocus is grown from tubers instead of seeds and is mainly grown in Iran. Over 90% of the saffron consumed worldwide grows there. This is in large part due to the labor-intensive harvesting and drying of the scars and the relatively cheap labor in Iran. However, the saffron crocus bulbs (called tubers) are relatively inexpensive and easy to source for gardeners looking to add this flower to their gardens.

Packed with nutritional benefits, this spice is said to help with heart disease and depression. Many even say that dealing with flowers and scars can cause uncontrollable laughter and joy!

Farmers in the United States have been growing the saffron crocus since the 17th century when the Pennsylvania Dutch first brought these tiny onions to the United States. It is possible to grow this spice here if labor costs allow. This plant grows in a raised bed garden or in containers and fits anywhere! Remember, a family of four will need at least 150 to 200 tubers to cook for a year.

Brief instructions for care

Do you love saffron Learn How To Grow Saffron In Your Garden! Source: Kightp

Common Name (s) Saffron crocus
Scientific name Crocus sativus
Days to harvest 6-8 weeks
light Full sun
Water: Moderate water during production; No water during the resting phase
ground Well-drained sandy to loamy soil
fertilizer Compost or bone meal
Pests Rabbits, voles, mice, gophers, saffron mites
Diseases Corm red

Everything about saffron crocus

Just open itAs the petals unfold, the center of the flower opens to sunlight. Source: LindaH

The world-famous saffron crocus is by far the most expensive spice in the world. It is known not only for its bright red color, but also for its scarcity. With 220,000 flowers needed for one kilo of dried spice, this spice needs several fields in production to achieve a salable harvest.

The Crocus sativus is traditionally used in Middle Eastern, Indian, Greek, and Spanish cuisines, but has since been found in foods around the world. The plant is believed to originate from Minoan Crete and thrive in other similar temperate regions of the world. You can plant saffron on farms, in the garden, or in containers. The crocus saffron adapts to any number of growing conditions.

The saffron crocus is a short and blunt flower that produces a purple, cup-shaped bloom in beautiful gemstone tones. The leaves or leaves are more like green spikes that look like pine needles, and the entire plant is 4 inches tall by the time of maturity. There are three stigmas in the center of the plant. This is the part of the plant called "saffron". It is a brightly colored red-orange three-pronged thread that emerges from the base. It's shockingly bright and incredibly easy to spot. Only one flower is produced from each onion. However, each onion will multiply when it goes into its dormant period in the summer.

The saffron life cycle can generally be divided into 5 stages. Saffron crocus bulbs sprout 6-8 weeks after planting in late fall through early winter. It blooms and develops leaves and then begins to develop daughter tubers as it goes into dormancy.

Plant saffron crocuses

If you are growing saffron crocus, it is ideal to start the bulbs in late summer or early fall. Your growth zone determines the exact time. If you are planting them in USDA Zones 3-6 in August, try USDA Zones 7-10 for September.

Plant saffron tubers that are about 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart, though a bit closer together doesn't do much damage for a dramatic effect. Some people even grow 12 per square foot. Make sure that the pointed size bulb is planted in the planting hole at the bottom.


Saffron crocusThe yellow center gives way to three slender red scars. Source: Graibeard

Growing saffron crocus bulbs is easy! A great addition to the herb garden, this brilliant spice is great for beginners and a sturdy tuber that will come back year after year. There are only a few rules to ensure these little guys have the right growing conditions.

Sun and temperature

For gardeners interested in learning how to grow saffron crocus, most will find that saffron is easy to grow in their climate. While not all will be able to grow saffron and leave the tubers in the ground year round, most will find that with a few adjustments, these plants will grow well almost anywhere. How is that? The saffron crocus thrives in temperate regions and is adaptable to growth zones 6-10. It takes a full day of sun (at least 8 hours) and constant warmth at the end of autumn.

After harvesting the stigmas, growers must pay attention to the temperature. In zones below USDA zone 6, winters get too cold for the tubers to hibernate in the soil. You need to lift the lightbulbs and store them over the winter to protect them from extreme cold. In zones 8-10 you need to bring in the saffron crocus bulbs and artificially “winterize” them so that the saffron crocus bulbs know that they will sprout in the following season.

Water and moisture

It is wonderful to see a blooming crocus in the landscape. However, be careful not to pour these beautiful and sturdy little saffron flowers over them. In the days leading up to harvest, saffron crocuses only need a moderate amount of water, about half an inch per week from time of planting to harvest. After harvesting the saffron, stop watering completely. This will encourage the crocus to complete its life cycle and become inactive.

It is best to use a drip irrigation hose when watering to water your crop evenly. Using strong tubing or watering can accidentally damage these fall flowering plants.


Saffron crocuses are a pretty sturdy plant and tolerate sandy soils versus loamy soils. They can even be grown in poor soil if the soil is partially spiked with compost or bone meal. The only requirement is that the soil is well drained. Soil holding back too much water leads to rot, one of the few problems affecting the wonderful saffron spice.


For gardeners who want to learn how to grow saffron, this fall blooming flower is pretty easy to care for. The saffron flowers don't need a lot of fertilization. However, if you're improving poor soil or fertilizing overwintering, buried tubers, add 1 inch of compost above the soil where the crocus bulbs were planted. Alternatively, you can alter the soil with some bone meal at the time of planting. Given the plant's fast flowering time and tiny harvest, it really doesn't take much for these to produce bulbs.


A saffron crocus is only pruned when it is harvested. Using sharp scissors or your hands, carefully separate the flower from the stem and the petals from the stigma. Make sure to get off the foliage so the bulbs can slowly develop as they go into dormant state.


The saffron crocus is only propagated because each tuber can complete its entire life cycle. After the saffron blossoms have been harvested, the leaves must die off. During this time, “daughter” pears develop. If desired, you can dig up these new tubers and choose the healthiest one to save for next year's growth, or cover them with mulch and leave them until next fall, if your climate is appropriate.

Harvesting and storing

Saffron crocus stigmaThe stigma is the part we use for culinary color and taste. Source: Graibeard

The saffron spice is a somewhat labor-intensive spice to pick and store. This is why the spice costs so much, despite being a pretty easy plant to grow. The bright red stigmas of this wonderful plant are a beautiful and eye-catching sight and easily signal when they are ready to be harvested.


The time window for harvesting saffron crocus is quite short. Ideally, you need to visit your garden in the morning while you are in the harvest window. Saffron is best harvested in the morning on a dry day when the sun has not yet started to hit the flower. This is usually around 6-8 weeks after the tubers are planted. Wait until the flower is partially open to pick the flower. Without taking any of the leaves, cut off the lower part of the flower. You want to first open the flower, drop all of the pieces on a table or napkin, and carefully pick out the stigma either by hand or with tweezers.


Saffron threads are fussy, they can't take in too much sunlight before their quality deteriorates. Immediately store them in a shady area after harvest.

Saffron threads can be used immediately after harvest (within 24 hours) or dehydrated for long-term storage. There are two methods of drying available. For a small harvest, try drying on a paper towel on a shaded table or shelf. They should be dry within 3 days. If using a dehydrator, spread the threads evenly on a dehydrator and dehydrate at 45 degrees for 3 hours.

After drying, the scars must be sealed in an airtight container in a dry place. Try wrapping the scars in foil or some other light blocking material for long term storage as sunlight will affect the quality of this spice. Commercial sellers use black plastic to protect them from the sun.

Don't be surprised if your saffron loses a lot of weight! The dehydration process removes 90% of the weight from the stigma!


Group of crocusesThese beautiful flowers are beautiful ornamental plants too! Source: Antonychammond

Fortunately for people who grow saffron crocus, these bulbs have relatively few predators and growing problems. Aside from the hungry rabbit or gopher, this sturdy little onion is sometimes affected by rot or mites, but rarely.

Growing problems

Fortunately, growing saffron crocus is a pretty easy task! This plant is blessed with very few growth problems. However, it is important to keep an eye on your growing area if you are growing in regions that are different from the Greek surroundings. It does best in USDA zones 5-8; While it can grow in zones 9-10, be careful not to plant too early as it needs cool temperatures to bloom. If it too hotthe tuber can only produce leaves and none of the flowers we long for.


Most of the pests that attack the saffron crocus are small mammals. The onion of the saffron plant is a very delicious nugget of nutrients that is found by a wide variety of animals such as Rabbits, Gophers, Voles, and Mice. These tubers are particularly vulnerable to attack in the winter months when food is scarce.

The Saffron mite is a small, 8 mm long beetle that looks like a beetle and makes the plant grow stunted. The flowers also get shorter with thinner leaves. It is best to prevent this from happening as the short lived plants cannot really be cured once the problem shows up. However, you can consider spraying the tubers with miticide before planting.


Although you are lucky enough not to suffer from too many diseases, Tuber rot is a clear concern for growers with soil that is holding back too much water. Corm red is actually a collective term for various fungal diseases, including Rhizopus, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium. They all manifest by rotting the bulb and foliage of the plant, making them appear yellow or brown. This rot, similar to root rot, can be avoided by planting in well-drained soil and reducing watering.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Where does saffron grow best?

A: Saffron grows best in well-drained soil with full sun and a moderate amount of nutrients.

Q: Is it profitable to grow and sell saffron?

A: It can be profitable to grow and sell saffron. However, since much of the cost comes from the labor-intensive harvesting process, it will be an important factor in profitability.

Q: is saffron easy to grow?

A: It's pretty easy to grow saffron crocus when you have a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

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