Crocus sativus, also known as saffron, is a plant valued for its precious red stigmas, which are harvested and used as a spice. It is a perennial bulbous plant. The bulb is also called a corm.

Bulb planting is done in August or early September, before the onset of the first frosts. For a good harvest, follow our advice, and above all, select healthy bulbs free from diseases.

Step-by-step guide to help you plant, cultivate, and harvest saffron:

  1. Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Saffron bulbs prefer light, sandy soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Add compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage.
  2. Loosen the soil by turning it to a depth of about 15 to 20 cm. Remove weeds.
  3. Dig holes about 10 to 15 cm deep and space them about 10 to 15 cm apart.
  4. Plant the crocus bulbs with the pointed side facing upwards.
  5. Cover with soil and lightly tamp down the soil.
  6. Water to promote rooting. Keep the soil slightly moist throughout the rest of the season. Avoid excess water that could cause the bulbs to rot.
  7. Flowering occurs in the fall, starting between 6 and 8 weeks after planting, and continues until the first snowfall. This is the time when you can harvest saffron.
  8. Every day, pick the flowers when they open, in the morning when they are fresh. These flowers only live for about 24 to 36 hours.
  9. Gently trim the red stigmas inside the flower. These are the precious parts of saffron.
  10. Quickly dry the stigmas. There are several methods, such as spreading them on a wax paper-covered tray and putting them in the oven, or dehydrating at a temperature of about 40 to 50 degrees Celsius. When they turn dark red, they are ready.
  11. Once dry, store the saffron in an airtight container in a dry place, away from light and moisture. Wait for a month before consuming or using in your recipes.
  12. At the end of the season, leave the bulbs in the ground and mulch to protect them from the cold.

Important notes:

  • Saffron bulbs spread and become stronger over the years. You can leave them in the ground for several years, but it is recommended to divide them every 4 to 5 years.
  • Saffron bulbs are hardy, but it may be wise to protect them with additional mulch in winter to prevent damage from freezing and thawing.
  • It takes between 6 and 10 stigmas to season your dishes and enjoy the spice, and about 200 flowers to produce 1 gram of saffron.