Strange and Wonderful Bulbs for Gardens and Containers
Fritillaria or the fritillaries is a genus of bulbous perennials best-known by the popular chequered lily (F. meleagris) and one of the strangest structured plants to grace our gardens, the crown imperial or F. imperialis with its vertical stems and whorls of leaves topped with large pendulous yellow, orange or red bells and another whorl of green bracts.
The other members of the genus, which includes up to about 140 species from the Mediterranean basin, Eurasia, southwest Asia, and western North America, offer a mix of forms and colours always with pendulous bells.
Like the crown imperial, the Persian fritillary, F. persica, is also tall with elegant spires of grape purple, pink or green flowers. Some species like F. pallidiflora with its yellow flowers or F. stenanthera with its pink starry flowers are conventionally pretty while others like the green and burgundy coloured F. elwesii or F. hermonis ssp. amana are oddballs that will appeal to more esoteric gardeners.
Fritillaria can be grown in average, well-drained soils in full sun. Some species might appreciate sharper drainage depending on your region and its weather conditions. They can also be grown in pots and can make impressive container specimens.
At Phoenix Perennials, we offer a variety of Fritillaria for pre-ordering through the summer and fall for pick-up or shipping in late September and early October. Should supplies last, we may also have them available potted up in early spring. Here are the species and cultivars that we often offer:
With its pendulous green and burgundy bells Fritillaria elwesii is for sophisticated gardeners who like cool flowers.
Fritillaria hermonis ssp. amana, known as a chequered lily, has unusual and sophisticated yellow green bells etched in red at the edges.
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Argenteovariegata’ is a bold variegated cultivar with green and creamy yellow leaves and bracts, dark stems, and deep orange-red flowers.
Fritillaria michailovskyi is a short species with pendulous burgundy bells with yellow, flared tips. Each stem holds 1-4 flowers.
The nodding yellow flowers of Fritillaria pallidiflora are some of the last of the genus to bloom.
‘Bicolor’ is a rare form of Fritillaria persica with tall spires of pendulous bells in shades of dusky purple and pastel green.
Fritillaria persica ‘Purple Dynamite’ has very shiny, almost metallic, grape purple, bell-shaped flowers on tall spikes becoming purple-black with age.
The dark, elegant, architectural racemes of Fritillaria persica ‘Twin Towers Tribute’ offer larger flowers than the species and two stems per bulb.
Fritillaria sewerzowii is a rare and ethereal species with 10 inch stems sporting grey-green foliage and outward-facing, bells of dark brown and green.
Fritillaria stenanthera is a rare and unusual species for this genus in that it sports pink flowers.
Fritillaria thunbergii is a rare species with linear, bluish green leaves each with a curling tendril and pendulous, pale yellow flowers.