Crinum Lilies for the South

Who says you have to give up growing bulbs when you move to the deep south ? There are many options, but the largest growing group of flowering bulb plants are unquestionably the Crinums. There are hundreds of choices, but a great many of them are collector's items, and some have some peculiarities about them. For the "garden varieties", there are a few basic groupings to choose from, based loosely on certain species. One of the most common growers here is the asiaticum group, seen by the thousands in commercial plantings. There are dark-leaved and dark-colored forms in this group. One of the most frequently seen varieties is called 'Queen Emma'. with a reddish color to the leaves, and wine-tinted flowers .  

'Queen Emma'

'Rose City Star'

'Ellen Bosanquet'


'Crinum jagus'
'St. Christopher Lily'

 a semi-aquatic type, probably
C. americanum
Crinums are fairly easy care in the landscape, but as with many fast-growing plants, they appreciate regular watering and almost continuous fertilizing ( think about slow-release fertilizers like Osmocote and Nutricote). In my experience with these plants, I found that keeping the plants a bit potbound made for better flowering. In the ground, the plants needed to be of some size before they flowered. One of the few commonalities in the genus seems to be that the plants are highly attractive to grasshopper attacks. Removing the grasshoppers when they are still young is paramount to success. There are organic repellents containing hot pepper oil or neem oil that can help in repelling grasshoppers, and are worth investigating. Other than grasshoppers, mites are a pest in dry weather, easily resolved with soap or soap / oil sprays.   

There is a broad  range of colors and fragrances, something for every size garden and taste. Some of the species types have impressive displays of flowers, but rather short flower lives. The newer hybrids have a longer flowering season, along with improved flower shape and texture. There is, of course, a society to help you make choices with many bulb crops, the International Bulb Society. There is a great deal of information out there as well as a wide range of plants to choose from. Consider growing a few Crinum lilies in your mixed plantings, and perhaps try a few in large containers.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens