crinum lily with old-fashioned summer phlox.
It was love at
first sight that day in Brookhaven, Miss., when I came across the
grand crinum lily, Crinum asiaticum, I fell in love even though it
wasn’t blooming. The tree-like structure of the stem or stalk and
the large exotic foliage sold me with its texture before I had even
experienced the beauty of the white blooms or tantalizing fragrance.
this crinum is not cold hardy north of zone 8 but as an Internet
search will attest, gardeners in colder regions find they make
excellent choices for containers that are given winter protection
indoors. We all have plants we protect in the winter so why not a
In our cottage
garden we have these in close proximity to the old-fashioned purple
summer phlox in one area and Black & Blue anise sage in another.
The past two years’ winter temperatures have defoliated them but
they bounce back quickly with the arrival of spring.
gardeners don’t realize is that there is a native crinum lily,
Crinum americanum that is just as beautiful and fragrant with its
glistening white blooms Though it possesses rare beauty and is native
as far north as North Carolina and Arkansas it really could use a
Madison Avenue public relations firm as it is most often referred to
as Florida swamp lily or bog lily.
certainly do not have to have a swamp or a bog to grow this native
that is cold hardy to zone 7. It does like sun and fertile moist soil,
and it, too, should be considered worthy for those tropical poolside
containers. At the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens we are growing
these at our water garden in partnership with the native cardinal
flower, Lobelia cardinalis.
Jenks Farmer a
well-known nurseryman from South Carolina and I, have been paired
together on programs at various Master Gardener events and symposiums.
I can tell you he is a Crinum Guru and will testify that he has
selections that will thrive even in zone 5.
expert is Tony Avent with Plant Delights Nursery. He, too, has crinum
lilies, species and incredible hybrids that will lead you to become
forever hooked on these bulbs that possess some of the most
picturesque flowers in the world of gardening.
Your crinum lily
has the potential of being in your garden for a very long time. These
are the plants that still be-creating memories for many years after
you are gone. With this kind of longevity, coupled with the fact that
crinums resent being moved, it pays to prepare your soil right.
Soil must be
organically rich and well-drained, two prerequisites for crinums, so
incorporate 3 to 4 inches of organic matter into your planting bed.
These are large bulbs that should be planted a minimum of 6 inches
deep. Space your bulbs 2 to 3 feet apart depending on your zone and
species. For instance, Crinum asiaticum would need much larger
spacing. If you are buying potted nursery plants then dig your hole
two to three times as wide as the container, planting with the top of
the rootballl even with the soil surface. If you are trying more
tender varieties, keep in mind your home’s protected microclimates,
normally the southern exposure, and apply extra mulch going into
As I alluded
above, I really like crinums best in mixed flower borders. Their leaf
texture and bloom allow them to work in the tropical, cottage or
perennial garden to absolute perfection. In the tropical garden
combine them with bananas and elephant ears. In the cottage garden use
them with daylilies, Asian lilies and irises.
Both the Grand
crinum lily, Crinum asiaticum and Florida swamp lily, Crinum
americanum, have tropical looking white flowers. For color and more
cold-hardiness you may want to try the wine colored Bradley, the rosy
Elizabeth Traub, and Ellen Bousanquet, which is reddish-purple.
are the long-term investments of the plant world. Once you start
growing them you will not only be glad you did but more than likely
you’ll start searching for more.