Fritillaria meleagris

Fritillaria meleagris

fritillaria-meleagris-rhrWith the official start of fall, gardeners are thinking about spring and planting their bulbs. Beyond the traditional tulips, daffodils, and crocus, there are many unique spring-blooming bulbs to experiment with in your garden including Fritillaria meleagris.

While Fritillaria meleagris is a member of the lily family, it’s neither a true lily nor daffodil.  photo credit: R. Robert

While Fritillaria meleagris is a member of the lily family, it’s neither a true lily nor daffodil. photo credit: R. Robert

Checkered lily, Guinea hen flower, snake’s head fritillary, snake’s head daffodil….Fritillaria meleagris may be known by many common names, but there’s nothing common about this bulb.   While it is a member of the lily family, it’s neither a true lily nor daffodil.  Nor does it look like a Guinea hen or snake.  With 1-2” long, drooping flowers in shades of purple, (and sometimes white), accented with checkerboard-like markings of dark or lighter purple, a more suitable name for this uncommon spring-bloomers would be snazzy-flower.

fritillaria-meleagris-rhr-white

With 1-2” long, drooping flowers in shades of purple, (and sometimes white), accented with checkerboard-like markings of dark or lighter purple, a more suitable name for this uncommon spring-bloomers would be snazzy-flower. photo credit: R. Robert

Fritillaria meleagris is perfectly suited for damp soils – something that most other bulbs are intolerant of.   The strap-like foliage is only 3-6” long.  If you are bothered by the yellowing foliage after the flowers have faded, consider growing it in a grassy area and wait until the foliage has browned before cutting the grass.

Members of the Scott Associates can pick-up their checkered lily as the bulb dividend at the Fall Celebration on Sunday, October 16. Join today to be able to try this bulb in your garden.

Mary Tipping
mtippin1@swarthmore.edu
1Comment
  • John Schucker
    Posted at 09:20h, 26 September Reply

    These are absolutely charming flowering bulbs which, like other types of fritillaries, never seem to last in my garden, unfortunately. I must disagree with your comment that the blossom does not look snake-like. The shape of the unopened bud can suggest the shape of a snake’s head while the interesting checkered patterns of the purple form can also suggest the patterns found in snake skins. It may take a little imagination to see them this way, but not a great leap.

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