Growing Saffron: the Transplant Period
If you are considering growing saffron, this is the ideal time to transplant the bulbs. The best time to plant saffron bulbs is in late summer or early fall, typically late August to early September. This timing allows the bulbs to establish their root system in time for mid-October flowering, so they’ll be ready even when the winter frost arrives.
Choosing the right bulbs is essential. Look for healthy bulbs, with no signs of mold or disease. When it comes to saffron bulbs, size does matter! The larger bulbs (from 3 cm in diameter upwards) guarantee a greater yield of flowers per year, while the smaller bulbs (with a diameter of less than 2.5 cm) do not always flower in the first year.
Saffron requires well-drained soil and full sun. Choose a location with good soil drainage, as saffron bulbs fear stagnant water: in fact, they can rot in flooded soils. Making a small bed of the soil can be a good option to improve drainage.
The bulbs should be planted at a depth of about 10 cm. However, if you want to make a multi-year and not annual cultivation, it is advisable to plant them a little deeper because over time, as they multiply, they tend to “rise” upwards.
Transplanting bulbs is a simple operation. It starts by digging a groove, in which the bulbs will be positioned, at a distance of at least 5-8 centimeters between one bulb and another. The bulbs should be placed with the “tuft” facing upwards. Once all the bulbs have been positioned, proceed to cover the furrow with earth and then move on to the next row. A distance of at least 15 centimeters must be left between one row and the other. The transplant can be done entirely by hand, armed with a spade for digging and holy patience, or machines can be used. As you can see from the photo, I used a potato planter to which the size of the cups in which to insert the bulbs had been reduced, so as not to leave too much space between one bulb and another.
A tip is to mark the 2 ends of each row of bulbs with a flag or a stake: the first shoots appear in conjunction with the start of the flower harvest, so it’s easy to lose the rows!
Another tip to safeguard your saffron plant is to prepare a mulch to cover the rows. It can be a mulch made with straw, or a green mulch with the cover crop method – I talked about it in this article.
Cultivating saffron is a job that gives great satisfaction; I hope this information can be useful to you. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below!
Born in Romagna, now living in Piacenza. I am the owner and co-founder with my husband of Zafferano Emiliano. Follow our site to get the latest news about our Saffron cultivation – and some recipes as well!