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Bulbs of the World

The Colchicum Family: Genus Colchicum

The genus Colchicum, in the family Colchicaceae, comprises a group of flowering bulbs related to the lilies. They produce their foliage in spring, with a bunch of broad leaves resembling somewhat those of tulips but without a stalk. The flowers appear, in most species, in the autumn.

Colchicum byzantinum The first colchicum to bloom here is usually Colchicum byzantinum, showing up in the first few days of September.

Colchicum cilicicum purpureum It is followed closely by Colchicum cilicicum purpureum.

Colchicum 'The Giant' Colchicum 'The Giant' is a giant of a flower. This cultivar blooms early, in the first week of September in central Indiana.


The bulbs are actually corms. They should be planted where they will receive plenty of sun while the foliage is present. Some consider the foliage unsightly and recommend that the bulbs be planted under deciduous shrubs. This appears to be somewhat a matter of taste. The plants certainly do very well when grown in full sun.

When you receive new bulbs in the early autumn, you should plant them as soon as possible. The flowers will probably appear on schedule (the original grower's schedule), whether you have planted them or not. Colchicums often sulk the first year or even first two years after planting. Don't give up on them just because you don't see flowers immediately or foliage the first spring after planting. Mark the spots where you plant colchicums so that you will not dig into them during the ca. 8 months of the year when they are below ground.

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For information about this account, contact:

James E. Shields,
Last revised: 16 November 2011
© Copyright 2011 by James E. Shields. All rights reserved.