Fritillaria imperialis 'Rubra Maxima' AGM
Crown Imperial
Currently unavailable
Type/Hardiness Bulbous perennial, Hardy
Flowering period Late spring
Height 24-36in/60-90cm
Light preference Full sun
Soil preference Fertile, free-draining
Sowing time/depth Autumn, Barely cover
This majestic and very attractive plant produces a cluster of deep, brick-orange, down-pointing, bell-like flowers, above which is a top-knot of small leaves. The stems are thick, straight and clothed in bright green spear-shaped leaves. The plant has a foxy odour which is said to ward off vermin. Our fig tree is underplanted with yellow crown imperials, but these would do just as well - not only do the colours of the flowers contrast well with the green-grey young branches of the fig, but the timing is perfect - just as the fritillaria are dying back, the young fig leaves appear.
Sowing and/or growing instructions
Best sown in autumn as the seeds need a period of cold to aid germination. Better still, in order to break double-dormancy, sow seeds, barely covered, in a pot containing some good-quality, sandy, moist, sterile compost, and seal in a plastic bag. Put in the fridge for 3 months, then bring into warmth (70F/21C) for another 3 months, followed by another 3 months in the fridge. Gently pot on any seedlings as they appear. Grow on in pots of fertile, sandy, free-draining soil, ensuring adequate moisture, in a sheltered position out of direct sun. Takes years to flower from seed. Plant bulbs at 4 times their own depth, preferably on their sides, in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. It is a wise precaution to both stand and surround the bulbs in sharp sand or fine horticultural grit. Plants can be susceptible to lily beetle; pick off and destroy any that appear as soon as possible.
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