Fritillaria imperialis var. imperialis is a robust, tall-growing, red-flowering, bulbous perennial that is found in the wild across Central Asia from Eastern Turkey, the Kurdistan region of Iraq and into the Zargros and Elbourz mountain ranges of Iran and across to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir, growing at high elevations. Coming from such high altitudes, it is a very hardy plant and if planted deep enough and given good drainage and a thick mulch, Fritillaria imperialis is perfectly capable of surviving temperatures down to -20 C and even lower with the insulating effect of snowcover.
Fritillaria imperialis var. imperialis - often known in cultivation by the name Rubra Maxima - is a stunning plant with lush foliage and tall straight stems that at maturity can reach in excess of 1.5m although 1m is more usual. Sitting atop them is a gorgeous circular panicle of pendulous, rich orange-red, bell-shaped flowers crowned with a splendid tufty topknot of leaf bracts. Very exotic.
The bulbs should be planted very deep, about 25cm, and to prevent rot need to be laid on their side and given a generous bed of sharp sand and gravel. They prefer an alkaline soil and for best growth limestone chippings should be added to the gravel/sand/soil mix. They appreciate full sun and a regular feeding with a potash-rich fertiliser. Fully hardy - if given excellent drainage - the bulbs are best left undisturbed.
Hardy, exotic, gorgeous flowers ... what more could you want ? Oh yes, a weird musty odour ...
|Synonyms||Fritillaria imperialis, Rubra Maxima, Fritillaria 'Crown Imperial', Fritillaria 'Kaiser's Crown', Fritillaria 'Rubra-maxima', Fritillaria 'Rubra Maxima', Fritillaria aintabensis, Fritillaria corona-imperialis, Fritillaria imperialis var. longipetala, Fritillaria imperialis var. maxima, Fritillaria imperialis var. rubra-maxima, Imperialis comosa, Imperialis coronata, Imperialis superba, Lilium persicum|
|Geographical Origin||Central Asia from Eastern Turkey to Kashmir|
|Cultivation||Full sun. A very well-drained alkaline substrate, placing the bulbs on their side in a thick bed of sharp sand and grit. Feed well in the summer and mulch in the winter|
|Eventual Spread||Clumping and spreading to 1m or more|
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