Monday, September 20, 2010


The single, nodding, bell-like flowers of the FRITILLARIA, or CROWN IMPERIAL, are one of my favorite spring blooms.  The time to plant is now through fall.  Their clusters can have anywhere from 5-9 upside down 'bells', with a fun tuft of green on top.  They are easy to grow, and the old-fashioned flowers come in yellow, orange, and red.  They grow 2-4 feet tall, and bloom in early spring.  They like full sun or light shade in well-drained soil.  Be careful when purchasing bulbs--they can be fragile and need to be planted immediately.  If allowed to dry out before planting, it may prove fatal to your plant.  Plant them fairly deeply--the tops of the bulbs should be 5-6 inches below the surface of the soil.  Be sure to prepare the soil several inches below where the bulbs will sit, and provide rich and well drained conditions.  A hint when planting:  The crown imperial has kind of an open-crowned top, and this makes the bulb especially susceptible to rot if it gets a lot of moisture in it.  So, when planting, put 2-3 inches of builder's sand (sharp sand) in the bottom of the hole, then set the bulb on top of the sand on its side.  This will prevent loss of bulbs (I know from experience).  The bulbs are rather expensive, so it is worth the time to do this.  They will increase slowly, and you don't need to divide them until they become too crowded.  To do this, after they have bloomed and the foliage has ripened, dig them up and replant immediately where you want them.  The crown imperial can be intolerant of moisture after they bloom during the rest of the season, also, and so when they go dormant, mulch with pea gravel.  Most  mail-order companies have them for about $15-$25 each, but John Scheepers, a company you can go online to order, is offering them for a great price.  I ordered mine this year in a group of 5 for that price ($5.75 each)--that's by far the best deal I've seen this year!  I think you'll like the crown imperial in the middle of your beds.  And, if planted and taken care of properly, you should have them for many years to come!
Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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