Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Crown Imperial Fritillaria
Fritillaria imperialis

Family: Liliaceae (lil-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Fritillaria (frit-il-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: imperialis (im-peer-ee-AL-is) (Info)

42 members have or want this plant for trade.

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18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

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

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There are a total of 21 photos.
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5 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Feb 27, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This can be a spectacular plant where it's happy. I've seen happy, spectacularly blooming plants in my area. However, I've rarely gotten good bloom, and where I have plants haven't bloomed well the next season.

These do require good drainage, and generally rot without it. I've followed the usual instructions and planted bulbs on their side to keep moisture from accumulating in the center. It hasn't seemed to help.

Both flowers and the plants themselves smell strongly of skunk. Don't place close to sitting areas.

This is also attractive to the recently introduced lily leaf beetle, which has made growing lilies and fritillaria problematic in New England. It's problems with lily leaf beetle that have put an end to my willingness to experiment further with this sometimes spectacular plant.

Negative SueMon On Mar 27, 2012, SueMon from montreal
Canada wrote:

It is not about the plant.
I just do not know why Home Depot sells it in Montreal. (Zone 4). I planted it in last September and I just found out that it is rotten in the earth.

Positive sanchal On Apr 21, 2011, sanchal from Kelowna
Canada wrote:

I started out with 1 bulb 9 years ago and today I have more than 50 in the garden. I have moved them into full sun, partial sun, partial shade and they bloom everytime. Then they show up at different parts of the garden probably because we move soil around so bulblets must move with it. The bloom time varies depending on sun and so I get successive blooming. The plants grow relatively the same height but the blooms are smaller in the afternoon shade part of the garden. I have some near a sprinkler head and many are in no more than 6 inches of soil; some on top of clay. I am in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada Zone 4

Neutral weedsfree On Dec 29, 2009, weedsfree from Magna, UT (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very effective keeping gophers away. Once I moved them the neighbor and I had problems the following spring. The reason why I give it a neutral, is because the odor is strong once they start growing to the end of the bloom period. I think that is why they are so effective. Also because they HATE to be moved. I lost mine once I did.

Positive frgordon2 On Apr 18, 2009, frgordon2 from Easton, MD wrote:

I collected this plant in the Zagros Mountains of Iran in the 1960's for the Royal Horticultural Society and sent the bulbs to Wisley Gardens. In the wild there they grow beneath low growing "gorse" on north-facing slopes in the foothills of the desert-mountain interface, in soil that has high pH and is rocky with total annual precipitation of circa 12 inches almost all of which comes in the form of snow. Extrapolating from their natural habitat I grow them successfully in Eastern Shore Maryland in well drained soil beneath prostrate junipers which allow the stems and leaves to rise up a foot or two into full sun. The orange-red blossoms were used as a source of carpet dye by Persian villagers.

Positive ineedacupoftea On Apr 9, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

The bulb itself has a nice musky-skunky odour of which, I must admit, I have grown fond.

The bulbs are somewhat bowl-shaped and composed of scales. This is a problem when water settles in the bowl and rots the bulb. To prevent this, plant the bulb on its side. A great deal of sun ensures more consistent blooming. Many plants tend to biannually exhaust themselves by overblooming and benefit from organically rich well-drained soil.

As a general rule, the darker the stem, the darker the flower.

Positive nevadagdn On Mar 29, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I suspect this plant may only bloom well every other year. Last year I had spectacular bloom but this year the shoot shows absolutely no sign of buds, even though the plant itself looks very healthy. OTOH, Frits that failed to bloom last year have lovely buds and plenty of them.

I assume that Fritillarias need good drainage (perhaps I read that somewhere), so I put all of mine on a sand berm covered with river rock. The area gets watered twice a week, but it's still so dry that the other plants thriving in this area are: Penstemon palmeri, Agaves, Yuccas, Achillea, ornamental oreganos, species tulips, cacti, Perovskia and Eremurus.

Try to be careful not to bruise or slice into the bulb while planting the bulb or other things nearby, because it smells BAD! And don't even think about cutting for the flowers for the house, because the whole house will have a certain Eau de Pepe le Pew aroma in short order.

Positive tibi001 On Mar 23, 2004, tibi001 from Brecksville, OH wrote:

Should be called "Royal Imperial". This is really the king of lillies. I was told it's rodent repellent.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 7, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very effective in borders. Bulbs multiply. Best to leave them alone once they are planted.

Neutral Lilith On Aug 11, 2001, Lilith from Durham
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

A regal garden monarch. Its elegant circle of red-orange bells is topped by a distinctive coronet of foliage.


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

Clifton, Colorado
Lewiston, Idaho
Palmyra, Illinois
Park Ridge, Illinois
Wilmington, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Kalona, Iowa
Barbourville, Kentucky
Easton, Maryland
Hagerstown, Maryland
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Davison, Michigan
Flushing, Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
Sparks, Nevada
Denville, New Jersey
Brecksville, Ohio
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Troy, Pennsylvania
Bountiful, Utah
Redmond, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Pewaukee, Wisconsin

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