Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Lily
Cardiocrinum giganteum

Family: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cardiocrinum (kar-dee-oh-KRY-num) (Info)
Species: giganteum (jy-GAN-tee-um) (Info)

Synonym:Cardiocrinum giganteum var. giganteum
Synonym:Lilium giganteum

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is monocarpic

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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3 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive vihosta On Jun 29, 2012, vihosta from Nanaimo BC
Canada (Zone 8a) wrote:

I live in Nanaimo BC Canada and have two Cardios - one is presently bloooming and the other resting until next year! They seem to share bloom years!
If anyone would like seeds I'll mail you some - no charge - as each bloom yields hundreds and hundreds per pod after flowering~

Neutral growingtools On Apr 30, 2012, growingtools from Nanaimo BC
Canada wrote:

I purchased this plant because of it's beautiful glossy leaves. I didn't know what it was. It died off at the end of the summer, but came back the next year. It grew and grew and grew until it was about 6 feet tall. Then these long tubes began to form at the top. I still didn't know what it was. When these tubes (20 to 25) of them opened, I then realized it was some kind of lily and found I had a lily giganteum.

When it died off at the end of summer, I cut down the main stalk. This month, it has started up again, with 6 or 7 shoots around the old central stalk. I realize now, I should have divided the bulbs, which I assume were under ground, as nothing was visible. However, as they grow so quickly, the new shoots are already 8 or 10 inches tall. I wonder if I can divide at this late stage?

I haven't seen anything like this growing in our area (Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada). It seems very easy to grow, but slugs and snails love to chew it's shiny leaves.

Neutral Jcqln On Jun 6, 2011, Jcqln from Th hague
Netherlands wrote:

I just bought a bulb and took great care planting it on a rotten steak with lots of natural fertiliser on a little heap of well drained soil in full shade, just as the seller told me to. Seeing all those flowering beauties in sun or half shade makes me wonder if I put the bulb on the right place in my small urban peace of blue clay....

Positive spiny1000 On Aug 7, 2010, spiny1000 from Lillestrøm
Norway (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have been growing Cardiocrinum giganteum in Lillestrøm, Norway (outside Oslo) for three years now, and it is really one of my favorite plants in the garden! The climate here is norwegian zone H4, equalling USDA zone 4b I suppose. Last winter we experienced -34 degrees Celsius (-30F) on two days, with -30C for several days.

After reading about the Botanical Garden in Gothenburg, Sweden were growing this species, with a winter covering of 50 centimeter (20 inches) hayballs, I aquired some bulbs from Great Britain, giving them a light but protected situation in the center of our garden, in fluctuating shade from a tree. The bulbs were planted in a raised bed 40 centimeters tall, built of solid blocks of peat, in a soil consisiting of rather old peat, some sand and a very very little part of clay.
I do not consider them difficult, but overwintering in cold climates is the real challenge.
Using a good 30 centimeters / 1ft covering of twigs from pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Fir, showelling up a good snowcover on top during winter has ensured the survival and even flowering of these giants!

The flowers of my plants are whitish with a dark reddish center; this means they are probably not the more tender greenish Yunnan-form.
The main buld dies after flowering. Collect and sow eventual seeds, and there should be at least one, three or more sidebulbs coming up, ensuring future displays. By planting a few bulbs now and then you will ensure flowering every year. Seedlings should take 7 - 8 years at least to flower.

Positive wallaby1 On Nov 24, 2005, wallaby1 from Lincoln
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have personal experience with all this plants dos and don'ts. Do get fresh seed. Don't pay a fortune for a few seeds, as not all are viable. Some have better embryos than others The ones I bought (20 seeds for a fortune) had no real embryo (which is a hard bit in the middle). They were blank or had a brownish mark--no good! Needless to say I planted them (the seller most likely will not tell you they have to be fresh) at the wrong time, waited a year with no results.

I bought a mature bulb, which only grew to a stretched 3 feet, but had good flowers. They will not establish well if mature and will not grow tall. Had plenty of seed, which I took off early Nov. as seed pods split, then sowed some by late November, discarding hundreds.

Sow in a tray of gritty soil/leaf mould/moss peat, cover lightly, and leave in semi-shady to shady spot. No need to fret about watering. Some will start germinating the following winter, in mild spells when it is moist, and some 2 winters later.

Now, this is the funny bit...the seed will only grow a thin, small leaf (and horrors!) will die. It can only grow as much as it's tiny bulb will let it. Each year it will grow only slightly more until 3 to 4 years from germination. As with chicken & egg, the leaf can only grow as big as the bulb will let it, and bulb only as big as food in the leaf!

This year the roots were well developed, 5 years on, and leaves lasted a long time, bulbs still small. I would envision 10 years to flowering, at least. I had 2 offsets from the bulb. It does die, but only as seeds mature. One flowered last year in very hot summer, no rain 2 months, temps high 20's to 30C. Was in the ground 2 years after potting on each year, in summer, slightly shaded spot. Still made 8 feet, 3 largish offsets, 4 a little smaller. Offsets will produce in the latter years each year toward maturity, so early planting advisable.

This year's offset flowering in 5th year looked much larger and lusher. Expected at least 10 ft but flowered early. Very cold summer so possibly thought autumn was coming on. Made around 2 metres. Flowers looked different than 1st offset, much redder throat. Made very good seed, 99% fertile, decided to sow more, have tons of it. Not lifted offsets yet, but expect more than 1st one as had an extra year.

With the 2 lots I will possibly have 1 a year soon, then more if I live long enough! Patience not really needed in my case, time will go anyway, and it did. Little maintenance other than pricking out, which I did only when 2 years from germinating and potting on. The scent is overpowering, vanilla-like. Worth all the waiting. A fleeting glimpse of a rare beauty worth all the little effort! UK zone 8a

Neutral Baa On Jan 9, 2003, Baa wrote:

A large bulbous plant from Southern China and the Himalayas.

Has large, ovate to heart shaped, glossy, deep green basal leaves, also carries smaller stem leaves. Bears tall stalks of white, trumpet shaped flowers that are heavily fragrant.

Flowers June-August

Likes a well-drained but moist, fertile soil in light shade.

This plant begins to die when the flowers are developing on the stalks (monocarpic), no amount of persuading will keep them alive once the seeds have been shed. However, when the flowering bulb dies, it has usually produced several bulbils/offsets around the old bulb which will flower in about 3-4 years from that point.

The plant will naturalise with these offsets but to have a year on year flowering you will first need to introduce several bulbs of differing ages.

It takes 6-8 years on average from seed germination to flowering plant, this is one that needs much patience!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Hoopa, California
San Leandro, California
East Haddam, Connecticut
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Brooklyn, New York
Portland, Oregon
Narberth, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Port Townsend, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Snohomish, Washington

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