Time to plant Crocus Sativus! How to Grow Saffron

The beginning of September is the perfect time to plant Crocus sativus — saffron crocus bulbs. Learn about the most expensive spice on the planet and how to grow it in your garden.

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What is saffron?

  • A delicate, very valuable spice with medicinal properties, prescribed in homeopathy, is an excellent colorant
  • Saffron is the most expensive spice and therefore a highly profitable crop
  • Affordable, easy to grow and very good for family businesses
  • Low yield, high value, low investment required
  • The saffron flower consists of 6 purple petals, 3 yellow stamens and 3 stigmas, which, after drying, give the saffron spice
  • When stored properly in a dry dark place, saffron can last for many years or even decades, retaining its value

Growing saffron

  • The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) has a reverse vegetative cycle, planting in late August — early September, leaves appear in late September and the plant blooms in October — November, then stands green all winter and then dries up until May-June of the next year
  • The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) is a sterile plant. Due to the diploid nature and lack of sexual reproduction, breeding work with it is not carried out
  • Vegetative propagation of tubers by bulbs occurs very slowly, which prevents the active expansion of cultivation areas
  • The bulbs planted at a depth of 10-15 cm multiply every year and produce new bulbs.
  • Plant in well-drained soil; heavy clay soil should be avoided. The optimum pH is 5-8
  • Saffron should be planted in a sunny location, especially in the fall during flowering.
  • Prepare the land with cultivation or plowing (20cm) and add compost or manure
  • When using nitrogen fertilizers, they can be applied after planting on the surface
  • Planting can be either in a row or on a ridge
  • Crocus sativus can be planted to a depth of 10-15 cm with a distance of 10 cm between the bulbs
  • Planting density — about 0.6 kg of bulbs per 1 sq.m.
  • Watering is needed during the spring and summer, during the formation of the bulbs
  • In case of frost in the region, it should be planted deeper for better protection from the cold
  • Young bulbs will move upward in 5-6 years, new bulbs will grow in place of old bulbs
  • Control the weed, especially after planting
  • Keep the soil moist, irrigate (water) in September if the soil is dry
  • It is recommended to cover with an agro-cloth to protect against frost or use plastic tunnel greenhouses
  • Manually control weeds if chemicals are not applied
  • Vegetative development occurs in spring. At this time, it is necessary to provide water and additional feeding of the saffron bulb
  • The leaves dry up in May
  • Dig up and replant the bulbs every 5-6 years

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Collecting flowers and separating 3 stigmas from flowers

  • The collection of flowers is done manually, the extraction of 3 stigmas of saffron from the flowers is also done by hand. If all operations are carried out by hand, the production of 1 kg of saffron requires approximately 250-350 man-hours. This comes down to 3-4 grams of dry product per hour
  • It is best to harvest flowers in the early morning, when the flower is still closed, to maintain the best quality
  • For the selection of stigmas from flowers, any table for work is suitable
  • Dry to achieve a marketable (quality) product


  • The threads (stigmas) must be properly dried for storage
  • Drying can be done by placing the pestles on a sieve in a well-ventilated room at 40-60 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes (well-ventilated food dryer, if you use an oven, you need to open the door slightly, you can dry it outside)
  • After drying, the threads are very light and break easily
  • Fresh saffron, even when dried, is completely tasteless. It is recommended to place it in a sealed, tightly closed container, away from light, at least for a month before use or sale. Saffron can be stored for many years under good storage conditions

Commercial issues

  • An approximate estimate of the yield per hectare is 6-10 kg of dry saffron spice
  • Approximate wholesale selling price of ready-made spices — 1500-3000 euros per kg(*)
  • The best way is to plant a little every year to ensure continuous production

At the moment, the countries in which saffron is intensively grown are Iran, India, Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, France, Switzerland, Israel, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Japan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The world production of saffron is estimated at 205 tons per year. Iran grows more than 47,000 hectares of saffron and exports 137 tons per year. The saffron market is not “transparent” and saffron of different origin and quality has different prices. At the moment, the wholesale market price ranges between 1,600 and 2,500 euros per kg.

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For purchasing saffron bulbs or inquiries about growing, please call +380504422275 or +380683279621.