How to Grow Crown Imperials (Fritillaria imperialis)

Updated on December 13, 2016
Crown Imperial Aurora
Crown Imperial Aurora | Source

One of the most beautiful spring flowering bulbs to grow are crown imperials, also known as Fritillaria imperialis. If you ever see them for sale, consider buying some for your garden.

Whenever I’m putting together different designs of plant combinations – whether they’re in beds, borders or containers – I always aim to incorporate a focal point.

That’s usually something large, stately and showy – something that stands out above the rest of the display.

When it comes to spring-flowering bulbs, the plants that always satisfy this requirement are the crown imperials.

Fritillaria imperialis, as the common name suggests, is a regal plant, putting on a wonderful display in the late spring that can last for up to four weeks.

It produces whorls of large bell-shaped orange, red or yellow flowers, set beneath a crown of leafy bracts on stems up to 1.2m (4ft) tall. The flowering arrangement gives rise to its other common names – crown on crown or royal crown flower.

Fritillaria Imperial Bulb 'Rubra'
Fritillaria Imperial Bulb 'Rubra' | Source

How to Grow Crown Imperials

Crown imperials grow best in fertile, well-drained soil in a position of good light, although they will tolerate some shade.

When planting, handle the bulbs carefully as the can be quite fragile. Prepare a rather large planting hole, because the bulbs develop a fairly deep root system.

Mix in plenty of well-rotted compost or other planting medium - well-rotted manure is a good choice since crown imperials need a good, rich soil.

Rotting can be a problem in heavy soils, so a 2 – 3 inch (5 – 7.5cm) deep layer of sharp sand or grit in the bottom of the planting hole with reduce the likelihood of this.

Similarly, plant bulbs on their side to prevent water collecting in their hollow crown, which leads to rotting.

As for planting depth, much depends on the soil. Some people recommend planting up to 10 inch (25cm) deep in light soils, and only 4in (10cm) deep in heavy soils. Providing you’ve prepared the soil well, I would suggest you plant at 6in (15cm).

You don’t need a lot of bulbs to make a big splash – usually one to three bulbs will create a great display – but plant more if you want to - and space them 6in (15cm) apart.

Because they are heavy feeders, apply a high potash granular feed when the foliage emerges – I use a rose fertilizer – and mulch around the stems with more organic matter.

Fritillaria Imperial Bulb 'Lutea'
Fritillaria Imperial Bulb 'Lutea' | Source

Failure to flower after the first year is usually due to a lack of potash fertilizer (which is necessary for bloom formation for the following year), or rotting taking place in the crown of the bulb.

Crown imperials also make great pot plants to adorn the patio or greenhouse. For best effect, plant one bulb into a 6 – 8in (15 – 20cm) pot using a good quality compost..

Avoid disturbing the bulbs at any time and only cut down the stems once they have fully turned brown and died back. Although these plants are fairly pest and disease-free you’ll need to watch out for bright red lily beetles, which attack this fritillary as well.

Sidenote

There is one possible downside to crown imperials- the smell. They are supposed to have a bit of a ‘foxy’ whiff to them – although I have never been able to smell it. So, if you have a sensitive nose, they’re maybe not a plant to have too close to the house or patio. However, there is an upside to even this – some people swear that the smell discourages moles, deer, squirrels, rabbits and rodents.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Gardenia Manitou 

        14 months ago

        They performed very well in my grdean this year in zone 3, southern exposure, close to the walls and company of hollyhocks. All expanded from the single bulb to nice clumps. When they were bloooming (magnificent really, when nothing yet blooms here except crocuses), I was worried about the heavy frost and covered them on some nights. However, they did not deter the deer from eating the hollyhocks leaves... my main reason for planting them. They're also frequented by the pesky red lily beetles. I just wonder, now that they are done with the blooming and leaves begin to yellow, should I cut the flower stems, or just wait until they are completely yellow and cut them at the base? Thank you

      • GardenExpert999 profile imageAUTHOR

        GardenExpert999 

        6 years ago from Scotland

        Yes they do, like most if not all plants that grow from bulbs, so in years to come you will have plenty crown imperials in your garden from just one or two bulbs initially.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        6 years ago from the short journey

        What an amazing flower! Do the bulbs multiply well?

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)