It's a fact we cannot grow tulips, crocus and hyacinths in Central Florida landscapes but it doesn't mean we have to give up bulbs. Gardeners just have to look to the more tropical types like crinum lilies that love the hot humid weather.
Only a few gardeners seem to realize there is a wide selection of crinum lilies available for home planting. Within the genus are deep reds, bright pinks, whites and bicolors. The flowers are bell shaped to spider-like in appearance and most open during the spring and summer months. One species that prefers moist locations, called the swamp lily, is native to Florida and produces clusters of white blossoms.
Crinum lilies are best planted as a group of bulbs to form accents among shrub plantings or to add a burst of color to perennial gardens. Some grow four feet wide and tall so give the bulbs plenty of room. Then follow these tips to enjoy your crinum plantings.
- Plant in full sun to lightly shaded locations.
- Improve sandy soils with organic matter additions.
- Space small varieties one foot apart; large types three feet.
- Plant the bulbs with the neck above ground.
- Crinum lilies are drought tolerant but grow best with weekly waterings.
- Feed once in March, June and September with a slow release fertilizer.
Many crinum lilies are blooming now. One of the most famous, and still popular today, is named Ellen Bosanquet hybridized by husband Louis Bosanquet of Fruitland Park, Florida around 1930. It is a good red with multiple blossoms that resemble amaryllis flowers atop a tall sturdy stem. But it is just one of many you see in local landscapes at this time of the year.