Home Gardening: How To Grow Saffron In Easy Steps
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Saffron, often referred to as "Kesar" in India, is a treasured spice that holds a special place in Indian kitchens. Its vibrant colour, unique aroma, and distinct flavour enhance the taste and visual appeal of various dishes. Saffron is a key ingredient in traditional recipes like biryanis, sweets, and rich gravies, providing a luxurious touch. Beyond its culinary uses, saffron is valued for its medicinal properties, being rich in antioxidants and known to improve mood and memory.

Saffron is one of the most costly spices in the world, though, because of the labor-intensive process involved in removing the fragile stigmas from Crocus sativus flowers. Due to this, many people find that growing saffron at home is an appealing alternative because it enables them to experience this wonderful spice without having to pay a high price. One can ensure quality and cut expenses by planting saffron and have the delight of harvesting and utilizing fresh saffron in cooking.

How To Grow Saffron At Home

Buying Crocus Corms

Saffron comes from the crocus corm, the bulb of the saffron plant. Purchase fresh crocus corms from a reputable supplier. Ensure the corms are healthy and free from disease for the best results.

Selecting A Location

Choose a location that receives ample sunlight and has well-draining soil. This can be either indoors or outdoors. For outdoor planting, ensure the area is free from pests. Indoors, a sunny windowsill or balcony works well.

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Improving The Soil

Add organic materials like compost, peat, or chopped leaves to the soil. This enhances fertility and provides essential nutrients. Till the soil mixes in these materials thoroughly, ensuring it is loose and well-aerated.

Choosing Containers

If pests are a concern, consider planting saffron in containers. Use planters with a minimum depth of 6-8 inches and ensure they have drainage holes. Line plastic milk crates with weed cloth and duct tape and fill them with topsoil for a makeshift planter.

Planting Time

Plant crocus corms 6-8 weeks before the first frost, typically in October or November. This timing allows the plants to establish before the harsh winter.

Planting Saffron Bulbs

Organise the corms into groups and plant them in clusters rather than rows. Space the corms about 3 inches apart and 3-4 inches deep. If using containers, plant one group of 10-12 corms per container and cover with soil.

Watering the Plants

Water the saffron plants regularly throughout the fall. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Adjust the watering frequency based on soil moisture levels, aiming for once or twice a week initially.

Fertilising Once Per Season

Use old manure, compost, or bone meal as fertiliser. Apply in the first few weeks of autumn in regions with a mild spring. For areas with longer springs, fertilise after blooming. This helps build carbohydrate reserves for the next year.

Continuing Care

Saffron flowers are easy to grow with proper care. Expect blooms 6-8 weeks after planting, though sometimes they may not appear until the following fall.

Harvesting and Storing

Harvest saffron on a sunny day when flowers are fully open. Gently pluck the vibrant red stigmas from each bloom. Dry the stigmas on paper towels for 1-3 days and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Properly stored saffron can last up to five years.

How to Take Care of Saffron Plants


Ensure the saffron crocus plants receive 4-6 hours of direct sunlight during bloom time. Ample light is essential for a good crop.


Choose a spot with at least six hours of bright sunlight daily. Balconies, windowsills, and sunny garden areas are ideal.


Saffron crocus prefers well-draining soil. Sandy, loamy, and humus-rich soils with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0 are best.


Saffron plants are moderately drought-tolerant. Water lightly during dry spells and ensure good drainage to prevent rot. About half-an-inch of water per week is sufficient during growth.


The optimal temperature for saffron blooming is between 17 and 25 degrees Celsius. Higher temperatures can inhibit flowering.


Add organic fertiliser when planting to boost growth. One inch of compost or bone meal can be beneficial.


Protect the plants during harsh winters by mulching with compost or straw. This insulates the corms from extreme cold.


Pruning is not necessary, but dig up the corms when spring leaves yellow and fall off.

Pests And Diseases

Saffron plants are resilient to pests and diseases. Occasionally, they may face issues like rot or mites, and protection from rabbits or gophers may be needed.

Growing saffron at home is a rewarding endeavour, offering fresh, high-quality spice for culinary use. With proper care, saffron crocus plants can thrive and produce the precious stigmas that are so highly valued. Following these guidelines ensures a successful harvest, bringing the joy of fresh saffron to your kitchen.