Fritillaria: Strange and Wonderful Bulbs for Gardens and Containers

Fritillariaor 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. imperialiswith 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. pallidiflorawith its yellow flowers or F. stenantherawith its pink starry flowers are conventionally pretty while others like the green and burgundy coloured F. elwesiior F. hermonisssp. amanaare oddballs that will appeal to more esoteric gardeners.

Fritillariacan 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 Fritillariafor 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 we are offering for fall 2019:

With its pendulous green and burgundy bells Fritillaria elwesiiis for sophisticated gardeners who like cool flowers.

With its pendulous green and burgundy bells Fritillaria elwesiiis for sophisticated gardeners who like cool flowers.

Fritillaria hermonisssp. amana, known as a chequered lily, has unusual and sophisticated yellow green bells etched in red at the edges.

Fritillaria hermonisssp. 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 imperialis’Argenteovariegata’ is a bold variegated cultivar with green and creamy yellow leaves and bracts, dark stems, and deep orange-red flowers.

ritillaria michailovskyi is a short species with pendulous burgundy bells with yellow, flared tips. Each stem holds 1-4 flowers.

ritillaria 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 pallidifloraare some of the last of the genus to bloom.

The nodding yellow flowers of Fritillaria pallidifloraare some of the last of the genus to bloom.

'Bicolor' is a rare form of Fritillaria persicawith tall spires of pendulous bells in shades of dusky purple and pastel green.

‘Bicolor’ is a rare form of Fritillaria persicawith 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.

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.

The dark, elegant, architectural racemes of Fritillaria persica’Twin Towers Tribute’ offer larger flowers than the species and two stems per bulb.

Fritillaria sewerzowiiis a rare and ethereal species with 10 inch stems sporting grey-green foliage and outward-facing, bells of dark brown and green.

Fritillaria sewerzowiiis 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 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.

Fritillaria thunbergii is a rare species with linear, bluish green leaves each with a curling tendril and pendulous, pale yellow flowers.