February may be cold, but as soon as the temperatures begin to warm up one of the first signs of spring is the early species crocus.
They will poke their green-and-white spiked foliage out of the ground first, and even thrive when there is snow on the ground.
When the weather warms up a bit more, the bright purple tightly furled tube-shaped flower buds begin to spread open into tiny cups.
The flowers open wide in the sunlight and close in the evening or during cloudy days.
The species crocus, often called the Tommy Crocus or Snow Crocus, have three inner petals that are very pale blue-purple and three outer petals that are bright purple and grow 2-4 inches tall.
Tommy Crocus are not true bulbs but are corms, which naturalize by offsets, tiny corms that grow out of the sides of the original corm.
The corms should be planted in the fall about 3-4 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart into the ground in the garden or into the lawn.
Because they bloom so early they can be planted in large or small drifts in the lawn and when it is time to mow the lawn the flowers will have finished blooming.
Besides the flower garden or lawn, these tiny crocus can be planted in sunny woods, in front of gardens or lining a walkway.
Crocus thrive in the sandy loam soils of the Eastern Shore and will continue to grow and bloom each spring for many years.
The crocus that have been planted for a number of years bloom earlier than newly planted corms, but they will catch up the next year.
All crocus are deer resistant, but squirrels might dig them up and plant them other places or feast on them.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)