Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 4
   August 2010
 
   Fritillaries: An Oddball Bulb Family
 



Fritillaries appeal to those who have a soft spot for odd flowers and colors. The genus is part of the lily family and includes more than 100 species, many of which are hardy only in warmish zones. That said, fritillary hardiness is not an ironclad science. The same species can be listed as quite hardy (e.g., to American zone 3/Canadian zone 4), or mildly hardy (e.g., to American zone 6/Canadian zone 7). Cultural requirements vary, but most prefer well-drained soil in full sun, perhaps with a bit of shade during the hottest part of the day.

The most dramatic fritillary is the crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis). You can almost see it growing, emerging with the daffodils but shooting to about 3' tall, crowned with almost square-shaped reddish-orange (or yellow) bells and a topknot of lily-like foliage. Into the spring garden full of innocent pastels erupts this tall, exotic beauty as though it wandered into the wrong party by mistake.

The magnificent crown imperial fritillary (Fritillaria imperialis) in full bloom.
The magnificent crown imperial fritillary (Fritillaria imperialis) in full bloom.

Because it is part of the lily family, the crown imperial is subject to lily beetles, which could be considered a strike against it. However, on the bright side, you can use it as a trap plant for lily beetles and thereby protect later-emerging lilies. Regular search-and-destroy missions I conducted last year on crown imperials resulted in absolutely no lily beetle damage later that summer.

Despite its size, the crown imperial's foliage dies back very quickly, making it an extremely accommodating bulb for the perennial border. In fact, its only drawback for some, though it doesn't bother me, is the bulb's slightly skunk-like scent. This may be why deer and rodents leave it alone.

 
 
           
Previous Page
Go to page:
1
Next Page
 
   Other Articles from this Issue
 
     
 
  • Vacation in the Tropics Right in Your Own Garden
         
     
  • Garden Illumination: The Effects of Artificial Lighting on Plants
         
     
  • Return to Newsletter Home
         
     
        What's New in Gardening
     
    Pulltap Double-Lever Corkscrew

    Pulltap Double-Lever
    Corkscrew
    Folding Fruit Knife

    Folding
    Fruit Knife
    Complete Guide to Masonry & Stonework

    Complete Guide to
    Masonry & Stonework
    Winged Weeder

    Winged
    Weeder™
     
    Hose End Sprayer

    Hose End
    Sprayer
    Stainless Steel Flour Shaker

    Stainless Steel
    Flour Shaker
    Curved Storage Hooks

    Curved
    Storage Hooks
    Folding Potato Masher

    Folding
    Potato Masher

        News & Events  
     
     
         Lee Valley Seminars

       Got a Story?

       Mailing Soon
     
     
        Features
      What Is It?
    Interesting Reads
    Customer Letters
    From the Garden
     
        Subscriber Services
     
     
     
      Subscribe

    Privacy Policy

    Newsletter Archive