Plant of the Month: Fritillaria

March 17, 2017

With so many beautiful flowers starting to bloom this time of year, it’s hard to choose just one for plant of the month. Fritillaria is just so unique making it perfect for springtime!

Fritillaria is a great option to diversify your bulb collection with its multiple varieties to choose from each having their own unique look. Here is just a small selection of Fritillaria.

Crown Imperial Lily (Fritillaria imperialis)- This one has the biggest blooms but it can also have a somewhat foul smell (think skunk) that many find off-putting. The orangish-red flowers emerge on one single stem and droop down like a bell. On top of the flowers there is a “crown” of green foliage that resembles the top of a pineapple.

Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) Photo Courtesy of Butchart Gardens

Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) Photo Courtesy of Butchart Gardens

Snake’s Head Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)- This Fritillaria is also commonly called the checkered lily. Each stem has one single nodding flower that is a dusty purple color with purplish-brown, white, or gray checkers and veining. Stems are green and have a grass-like appearance.

Snakes Head (Fritillaria meleagris)

Snakes Head (Fritillaria meleagris)

Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis)- A popular Fritillaria, the Chocolate Lily, is native to our region. Like the name states, flowers are brown and are mottled with green or yellow spots. Each bloom has a rounded bell shape and droops downward and sits atop a strong single green stem with whorls of small leaves on it.

Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis) Photo Courtesy of Pacific Horticulture Society

Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis) Photo Courtesy of Pacific Horticulture Society

Persian Lily (Fritillaria persica)- This variety is much bigger than the above growing up to 5 feet in height in the right conditions. Instead of a single flower, the Persian Lily can have up to 30 bell shaped blooms on top of each flower stalk. Along the stem there are greenish-gray leaves. Flowers range from deep purple to a light green.

Persian Lily (Fritillaria persica) Photo Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden

Persian Lily (Fritillaria persica) Photo Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden

Fritillary (Fritillaria raddeana)- Similar in appearance to the Crown Imperial Lily, this one has bell shaped drooping flowers with a pineapple-like tuft of leaves on top of the flowers. The difference between this Fritillaria and the Crown Imperial is that this variety has 10-20 flowers per stem rather than 2-3 and are light lime green in color.

Fritillary (Fritillaria raddeana) Photo Courtesy of Plants Wise

Fritillary (Fritillaria raddeana) Photo Courtesy of Plants Wise

With over 100 different known varieties of Fritillaria, you can really spice up your spring bulb garden with these flowers. Besides the Persian Lily (which likes moist soils but full sun) the above varieties of Fritillary grow well in moist, well drained soils in partial/dappled shade. Fritillaria will also naturalize well and can be divided easily so you can spread it throughout your garden for even more color the following year!

Do you have a favorite springtime bulb in your garden? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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