Add Tropical Splendor
are great summer-flowering bulbs that have graced Southern landscapes
for years. They lend a bit of nostalgia and add a delightful tropical
touch to gardens. Their coarse sword-like foliage is lustrous
and statuesque, providing a pleasing contrast to finer textured
The flowers of the more common crinums resemble those of the Easter
lily. Many choices are available, however, and the flowers range
from bell shaped to spiderlike in appearance. Colors range from
deep reds, pinks and whites to bicolors. The white form 'Album'
and the wine-red 'Rubra' are choice garden plants.
This member of the amaryllis family is one of the more cold-hardy
bulbs, and it can be safely planted in the eastern regions of
our mountains. Those living in the far western regions of North
Carolina can grow crinums in containers that can be brought inside
for the winter.
Plant crinums in April and continuing through late October. They
thrive in sunny locations, provided the soil is moist, or in filtered
shade. When looking for plants that grow well in woodland shade
gardens, consider C. moorei.
Newly planted crinums need to settle in for a season or two before
they begin blooming freely. They do not like to be disturbed.
After the first flowering season, apply a high-phosphorus fertilizer
in mid-May each year. Provide plenty of water during the bloom
period if there is a drought. After 4 to 5 years, remove the offsets
and replant to enlarge your collection or to share with a gardening
Many of the crinum cultivars are age-old hybrids. Most are crosses
of C. bulbispermum and C. moorei, such as C. x powellii
and C. x scabrum. Cultivars include white-flowering 'Schmidtii'
and 'White Queen', pink 'Cecil Houdyshel' and 'Roseum', red 'Carnival'
and bicolor 'Milk and Wine'.
Hardy crinums and their related hybrids are prominent members
of the perennial border at the JC
Raulston Arboretum. Tender species like the lovely
purple leaf form, C. procerum 'Splendens', have been planted
in containers for their seasonal beauty.
All Photos by Robert E. Lyons