Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fritillaria Meleagris - Snake's Head Fritillaria



One of my favorite springflowering bulbs is Fritillaria Meleagris. Their nodding chequered Purple-brownish elegant flowers are fascinating. For some years I bought bulbs and planted them in the fall. But come spring I never saw any of them? I wondered what I did wrong, until I read that they prefer acidic moist soil. So I mixed plenty of peat moss in the soil where I planted some new bulbs. The next year a few bloomed and the following year even more bloomed in small groups. I love them - only thing I dislike about them is that they seem to attract red lily beetles - I hate those since I try to grow lilies - with not much succes yet. You can see the traces left by beetles munching on the thin leaves in this picure:



I had also noticed another Fritillaria in some gardens around here - Fritillaria persica. The very large orange sized bulbs produce upright 2-3 feet tall flowerstalks with purple-brownish bell-shaped flowers:



I planted the bulbs in the fall, a place with very well drained soil and where they get plenty of sun - as recommended. I saw them shooting in March and looked forward to seeing them blooming. But no - they only produced foot tall stalks, with blind shoots? I wonder why they did not bloom? Perhaps they just need to get settled in and will bloom next year?



13 comments:

Janet said...

Hi Niels, I like the checkered board bloom on the Fritillaria. Snake's Head is such a non-flattering name. I don't have any, but I do like them!

JulenaJo said...

Gorgeous! So many mysteries in the garden. It looks like you're figuring things out though. Lovely photos--thanks for sharing. Good to see you posting again, too. Welcome back!

Jana said...

I didn´t know Fritillaria persica, it looks fantastic! A have seen also its pale-coloured variety - Ivory Bells on the internet, looking like something I´d like to grow. Thanks for sharing and I think you are right, it surely needs more time to bloom.

Jana said...

Non-blloming Fritillarias are also discussed here: http://www.srgc.org.uk/discus/messages/15/13225.html

Phillip said...

I've never grown this and I've been seeing it on other blogs. The flowers are amazing.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Just the name Snake's Head puts me off. They are lovely. They remind me of a Tiffany lamp shade.
Marnie

Sylvia (England) said...

Niels, Lily Beetle is a problem here as well - it seems to get worse each year, they are fairly new insect to the UK. I tried to grow Fritillaria persica without any luck, it just disappeared. With Snake's Head Fritillaria I find buying plants 'in the green' more successful, I have just extended the bed where they are growing so I will add some more and try Fritillaria persica again. Are you going to try some more lilies this year?

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

VW said...

Those checkered frittilarias are so interesting. My dad has a few of both types. I don't think we have lily beetles here. Hopefully not, since I bought the big bag at Costco and should have over 40 oriental lilies coming up this summer - Casa Blanca, Stargazer, Brasilia and Wileke Alberti (probably spelled that last one wrong). My neighbors might get sick of the smell! I'm hoping the lilies will perk up the garden when the english roses slow down a bit in between their heavy early summer and early fall flushes.

Roses and stuff said...

Fritillarias are gorgeous! I didn't know they attracted Lily beetles - blogging is such a pleasant and useful occupation, you learn something new every day!

Niels Plougmann said...

Janet and Marnie: I really don't like the common name either. But the 3 weeks each spring they bloom I enjoy the flowers of these small plants. They really do look a bit like a Tiffany lamp shade.

JulenaJo: Yes so much to learn! I think we learn a lot from our failures and mistakes.

Jana: They really are interesting plants - at least in other peoples gardens. The Albino variety - Ivory Bells seems to have become very popular - my favorite are still this dark black purple variety. Thanks for the links pointing me towards tips to help make them bloom!

Philip - You should try growing some!

Sylvia: Yes I hate those red beetles too - the reason while most stop growing lillies. Their larvae do much damage and look disgusting. But they are fairly easy to get rid of - I spray with natural pyrethrum and kill the adults in soapy water.

Buying the Frittilaries as potted plants may be more expensive than the bulbs, but it is a good tip for better succes. I have decided to do the same with some lillies this year - buy them potted in bloom. I have my eyes set on: Casa Blanca and Black Beauty. I also planted some Lillum Regale Bulbs in the fall. My Stargazers from last year are shooting well this year and hope!!!

VW. I hope you will have better succes with lillies than I had the first year! I also want to grow them because they bloom when whne the roses take a break in between the flushes. I wish you lcuk and enthusiasm!

Katarina: I did knwo that either before I saw the red beetles munching on them. I did not even think the red lilly beetles were out and about in April! Sadly they are and I fear that those growing lilies in areas with many lily beetles better refrain from growing Frittilarias, since it may attract lily beetles to their gardens earlier.

Pomona Belvedere said...

Fritillaria meleagris is one of my favorites: great picture. Something about the checkeredness gets to me; we have a local fritillaria that's also checkered, I look for it every year.

I knew about moist for F. meleagris but not acidic, perhaps I'll get a better yield now I know about acidic soils.

My F. persica have been blind for a few years, I have never gotten a longed-for bloom from them. I thought that was because snow kept dumping off the roof on them, but this year I moved them and it still doesn't look good. Thanks for the link Jana, I will try it.

About lilies: my experience is that they do much better fall-planted. Maybe buying in pots imitates that? Some varieties are much easier than others. Black Beauty, Regale and Regale Album, African Queen, have been trouble-free for me.

catzgarden said...

Niels - Your flowers are fabulous! I don't even mind the work of the red lily beetles - they add a fancy touch to the leaves.

I missed reading your posts while you were gone. You are a gardener, a poet, a gifted photographer - Roses in Gardens is one of my favorite blogs.

Please share the growing season with us - you are a master! I can't wait to see this year's roses....

Kathleen said...

Interesting post and comments Niels. I planted both Fritillaria meleagris & persica last fall with no luck on either. (I did get Fritillaria Imperialis Lutea to bloom even tho a late snow distorted it some)! I've admired the two you posted about for so long, I had to try them also. Buying them as plants sounds like a great idea if I can find them that way. Good luck to you ~ maybe we'll both have a few next season.