Fritillaria imperialisStriking cluster of 3-6 inverted tea-cup-like deep reddish-orange bells, 2-3" long, hangs from a leafy crown atop a tall spike. Large basal whorl of glossy leaves. Also called Fritillary or Mission Bells.
Likes full sun, requires good drainage. Plant the bulb sideways to prevent crown rot. Can be very long-lived if left undisturbed. The skunky odor of the bulbs repels critters. In cultivation since 1500s, native northern India to Iran.
26–30" tall. Mid Spring blooms, Z5-7. 20cm/up bulbs.
Aurora Maxima Crown Imperial
Novelties and Specialties
The Royal General Bulbgrowers Association in Holland (Koninklijke Algemeene Vereeniging voor Bloembollencultuur, or KAVB) puts this large group of diverse flowers into a boring catch-all category: Miscellaneous Bulbs. The expensive catalogs call them specialty or accent bulbs; some call them minor or dwarf bulbs (even though some of the fritillaries are huge!); Louise Beebe Wilder covered most of them in her 1936 classic Adventures with Hardy Bulbs. Whatever you call them, most are uncommonly sweet, delicate, colorful, and completely welcome in spring.