Fritillarias [frit-ill-AIR-eyas] are a large group of spring flowering bulbs, only a few of which have genuine ornamental value in residential landscapes. The Imperial Fritillary (Fritillaria imperialis), also known as the Crown Imperial, is the most handsome of them all. Appropriately named, it lends a regal, formal tone to spring gardens. Typical of hardy bulbs it is long lasting and relatively care free.
Height and Spread of Fritillaria
Imperial fritillary stands from 2 to 3 feet tall. Its straight, stiff flower stem rises bare of foliage several inches above the rosettes of leaves that circle it half way up.
Flowers of Fritillaria
At the top of each imperial fritillary stem clusters of six bell-shaped pendant flowers, crowned with a tuft of green foliage, appear in late April. The individual flowers measure about an inch or so in diameter and may be orange, yellow or red with yellow centers. The blooms last for about 10 days and give off a distinctive musky fragrance.
Foliage of Fritillaria
Imperial fritillary foliage is a glossy dark green. The individual leaves are lance-shaped, up to 6 inches long, and narrow with pointed tips. They are arranged in whorls around the plant stem up about half-way. A tuft of foliage then erupts from the top of the fritillary blossom as a sort of green crest. By mid-summer the foliage dies back and disappears.