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Crinum Lily

(Dec. 2009)

QuestionI live in Alma, just east of Ft. Smith on I-40.  I've been growing a Crinum americana, which I got from the Florida panhandle, for several years and have had blooms the past two.  It is placed in a slightly sunken bed where I grow Louisiana irises and is rich in organic material and heavily fertilized for the irises. This year a large spherical green seed pod has formed and looks ready to be harvested.  I would like to know how to treat it, to germinate the seed or seeds I assume are inside.


AnswerAlma is already pushing the limit for hardiness for crinum lilies, so I think experimentation is called for with the seeds.  Each seed pod should have 4 -5 seeds inside.  While in the southern part of the US most people could simply let the seeds fall where they drop and germinate on their own outdoors, since we are about to head into winter and you are at its northern limits, I would suggest splitting your seed in half and plant half outdoors and half indoors.  The seed is supposed to be planted while fresh, so lightly cover the seeds outside with mulch and for the inside seeds plant seeds in fresh potting soil.  Plant the seeds at the surface and put the pot and all inside a clear plastic bag.  Put it in a cool room with bright light and see what happens.

QuestionI just got through reading an article in the August 2005 issue of Southern Living, about Crinum Lilies. I never knew the name of these plants, but I have seen them growing in Russellville.  Do you by any chance know where I might be able to purchase some of these bulbs? I know that they are a really old plant in the South and that some of the older bulbs are huge!  I would love to have some of them.


AnswerCrinum lilies are an old-fashioned southern bulb.  A few nurseries may carry the plants, but you will find them sold as a dry bulb at some locations in the spring.  I would plant them in early spring, not now.  Crinums are only considered hardy as far north as central Arkansas--usually zone 7 or 8.  If you can't find a source close to home they are sold via mail order companies.  Plants Delight Nursery in North Carolina, Old House Garden Bulbs in Michigan, and others do carry them.  The plants are a bit homely and can grow quite large, but the fragrant flowers make up for the foliage.


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