How to plant fritillaries imperialis

Commonly known as crown imperials, fritillaries imperialis are tall, robust early spring flowering perennials producing striking bell-shaped flowers topped with a wonderful crown of leaves. Since they do not have a pleasant scent, try mixing with other spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils towards the back of the border — do keep in mind that planting in shady areas or heavy soils will result in poor flowering. They are attractive to pollinating insects.

Take care! Fritillaria bulbs are fragile and need to be handled with care.

Plant 25 to 30 cm deep and approximately 25 cm apart in deep, rich, well-drained, alkaline, loam-based soil in a south facing position — adding plenty of well-rotted manure or leaf mould with added grit to your soil to aid drainage, and allowing around 10 bulbs per square meter. Since they do no like to be disturbed, make sure to plant them where they can be left to naturalise. You can place them on their side which will help them settle in their new home as bulbs will eventually start to pull themselves back over once established. When the shoots start to appear in spring, put a layer of organic matter around the base. Feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed; if you garden organically, liquid seaweed is ideal as it is organic and comes from a sustainable source. In winter, give them a good mulch of chipped bark. Your efforts will be worth it as you will enjoy flowers year on year.

Always unpack and plant on arrival. Always wear gloves when handling them since they can cause skin irritation. All fritillaria parts are poisonous and should not be eaten.

Potential problems, pests and diseases:

Generally disease free, fritillaries can however be affected by:

  • Lily beetles: these pests like to feed on leaves and since fritillaries are part of the lily family, they are prone to their attacks. As soon as you see any signs of these little blighters, pick them off and destroy them.

  • Snails and slugs: these pests enjoy munching on young shoots, stems, leaves and flowers. Watch out for damage!

  • Non-flowering: this issue is usually due to shallow planting, heavy clay or poor sandy soil.
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