Royalty in the Garden : The Crown Imperial
As befits a member of royalty, the Crown Imperial's history can be traced back over many centuries. Originating in the drier regions of Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and into the foothills of the Himalayas, it was introduced to Europe by Clusius (top left), a Flemish doctor and pioneering botanist, who brought it to the Netherlands in the 16th century. In its native habitat this Fritillaria blooms in various shades of orange. Over the years, cultivars have been developed that flower in red and in bright yellow.
Crown Imperials are members of the lily family and grow to a height of about three feet. Leaves are lance-shaped, glossy, and appear at intervals along the stem. Toward the top of the stem a prominent whorl of five to nine bell-shaped, downward facing flowers appears, topped by a crown of small leaves that looks somewhat like the top of a pineapple.
Soil Condition is Important
Plant, Wait for Spring, and be Dazzled
What's that funky fragrance?
Disclaimer number two: The bulbs are pricey. A number of online and catalog bulb sellers carry Crown Imperial, but it pays to check the price closely. My survey of Internet offerings yielded the following results: One bulb may range in price from $9.95 to as low as $4.00. The lower prices are for a quantity of five. Most sites don't list bulb size, so it's important to ask before you buy. Interestingly, the the $4.00 bulb (when purchasing 5 bulbs) is offered by Colorblends, a reputable source. It was also the only source that mentioned bulb size (baseball). For other sources, consult our DG PlantScout. When you consider the beauty Crown Imperials bring to your garden and the fact that they effectively repel varmints, the price is well worth it.
When the Blossoms are Gone
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