Persian Fritillary - Pack of 5

Persian Fritillary - Pack of 5

The Fritillaria that Thinks it's a Foxglove!


Every garden deserves the majesty and unique beauty of Persian Fritillaries. This striking bulb offers tall, thick stems set with more than two dozen nodding, bell-shaped blooms of charcoal-black with brilliant yellow "tongues." Eager to naturalize where they are happy, these bulbs are a rich addition to the spring garden!

You will notice the aroma of the bulb the minute it arrives. It has a definite musky, skunky scent. This keeps nibbling animals -- including deer, voles, rabbits, and others -- at bay, so we can't complain. The flowers will also smell a bit wild if examined closely, so best not to cut them for a bouquet in a closed room! However, in the back of the border or in a meadow or woodland setting they are nothing but lovely, towering over late-blooming tulips and not-yet-blooming roses with a stately presence!

Persian Fritillaries just look so mysterious, their bright yellow anthers peeking out from the rounded "bell" petals! A mature plant sets up to 30 blooms a season, held in alternating sides along the stem. Very long-lasting, they look like nothing else in the mid- to late-spring garden. And they need almost no maintenance to grow and even naturalize over time!

So, then, we come to the elephant in the room. Why, if Persian Fritillary is so easy to grow and happy to spread, is it so expensive, compared to other bulbs like Daffodils and Tulips? Well, the secret is the length of time it takes the offset bulbs -- the babies -- to mature to blooming size. Several years must be invested, which makes these large bulbs very expensive for commercial growers to produce. Hence the higher price. But if you buy them once and take care where you plant them, you can have a lifetime of naturalized offspring!

Here's how to take care of them: find a site in full sun or light shade, and make sure the soil is enriched, deep, and very well drained. Drainage is the #1 problem for Fritillaria, so add sand or other amendment to make the soil more porous if it is clay-ey or hard.

Next, set the bulbs 6 inches deep, and space them up to a foot apart. Persian Fritillary isn't a lone wolf: it looks best with several friends close by. Keep the soil fairly dry in summer (not a problem for most of us!), and apply a winter mulch if desired. That's really all there is to it!

Persian Fritillary has been grown for countless centuries. As its name suggests, it's native to the Persia-Iran-Turkey region, and had been introduced to Europe by 1573. Gardens have been showing it off ever since! Zones 5-8.