This is a rare species in cultivation but ironically it ranges widely across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel where suitable habitats occur. It is said to be the commonest Crocus in Israel. It has white flowers, slightly flecked with varying amounts of violet on the reverse.
Internally it has a deep golden, to almost orange, throat which shows through the translucent petals to the outside. The gold is enhanced by a finely divided orange style, with up to 15 branches and it is contrasted with stunning black anthers. The flower is very strongly scented of honey, even on dull days.
This is not one for the open garden in the UK, as it can be tender in very severe winters. In Continental Europe and in the UK it may need protection from the most severe of frosts in cold climates. It does not need more than this bare minimum and it dislikes too much heat. On balance an alpine house is best, perhaps a raised bulb frame – unless you wish to take a bit of a gamble on a sunny, raised bed near a south-facing wall, in Cornwall or South Devon. Under glass Crocus hyemalis starts blooming in September here continuing on and off until mid-winter, it’s a Christmas Crocus too but one which then can carry on with sporadic blooms until January or later, thus we include it in both our autumn- and spring-flowering headings.
It likes a fertile, well-drained, loam-based compost such as a John Innes No3 or similar and really that is all that it needs. Then when the leaves yellow withhold water and subsequently give it a dry summer rest after leaf dormancy. For this it is best left in its compost, don’t over-bake it, but then repot in autumn. Early replanting favours early flowering. Feeding when in growth will help the offsets to reach a good size more quickly and it flowers from remarkably small bulbs.