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Fritillaria

About Fritillaria imperial

Everything about this regal member of the lily family is enormous. Fritillaria imperial bulbs can be the size of tennis balls. The plant's thick stalks can reach 4' tall and produce lance-shaped leaves up to 6" long. Each stem is topped by an "imperial crown" of several nodding, 2-3" flowers and, above them, a crest of leaflike bracts that resembles the Fritillaria of a pineapple. Any Fritillaria imperial variety makes a stylish focal point or border plant in the garden. Although Fritillaria imperialis has a disagreeable scent that belies its elegant appearance, the smell repels bugs and hungry deer and rodents.

When to plant Fritillaria imperial

Fritillaria imperial bulbs should be planted in fall. The strong-growing plants will become crowded every 3-5 years. When they do, it is recommended that, after the leaves have entirely withered away, the bulbs be divided and replanted, also in the fall.

How to plant Fritillaria imperial

Choose a location in about any type of fertile, well-drained soil that receives full sun to partial shade. Bulbs should be planted 6" deep and 12-18" apart because the plants will develop fairly large root systems. Plant bulbs on their sides to prevent water from collecting in their hollow crown, which results in rotting. Heavy soils can also retain excess water and cause rotting, so add a deep layer of sand at the bottom of the planting holes to improve drainage. Also add humus to enrich the soil.

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