Crinum is a half hardy bulb that is often grown as an annual plant. Common names for members Crinum include Cape lily, bengal Lily, Crinum Lily, spider Lily and swamp lily.
Everything about Crinum is extraordinarily large – the 6 inches bulb, the 3 ft tall flower-stalk and the magnificent 7 inches long trumpets in late summer. Crinums produce fragrant flowers that gently nod atop 3- to 5-foot stalks and come in a range of whites and pinks, depending on the species and variety. Crinums have an incredibly sweet scent and a long blooming period. When in bloom feel free to cut flowers for dazzling scented bouquets. This will not hurt the plants.
You will need patience if you begin by planting a bulb – it will take several years before flowering starts. The floral display lasts for 4-5 weeks, after which it needs to rest in a cool room or greenhouse. Crinums are easy to divide, so you can add crinums to other areas of your yard or to pass them along to a neighbor. Be aware that it may take a few years for the plants to reflower. Crinums are best divided in the winter when they are not actively growing. Dig around the clump, lift it, and then remove several offshoot bulbs.
Crinum powellii has pink drooping flowers. There are several hybrids with white, pink or red blooms. Crinum bulbispermum flowers are white outside and deep pink inside.
Secrets of success
Soil. Crinum needs a well drained soil. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Crinum lilies will not thrive in waterlogged soils.
Light. Site your bulbs where they will get full day sun or very light shade. These plants like lots of light and enjoy heat.
Water. Water liberally from spring until flowering stops. Water sparingly in winter.
Repotting. Repot in spring every 3-4 years.
Care after flowering. After flowering has finished for the season, the foliage will gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s show. Do not cut the leaves off. Your bulbs will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. In warmest areas the foliage may stay green until mid spring when it will yellow and die back. When leaves are absent and the bulbs are dormant, withhold water.
Crinum x ‘Ellen Bosanquet’
giant Crinum augustum ‘Queen Emma’