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Fritillaria Imperialis

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Water rarely, about once every 1-2 weeks, keeping the soil dry for a few days before watering again. These plants don’t need too much water because if they are staying in a soil which is too damp, this can easily cause the rot of bulbs.

The pendant, bell-shaped flowers of Crown Imperial are borne in a circle on top of a tall stem. The tuft of leaves protruding above the flowers provides the illusion of a crown. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees. Remove faded flowers to prevent seed formation or if you want to collect the seeds, allow pods to dry on plant, break open and collect seeds. After flowering and complete drying of the leaves, the stems should be cut off just above the ground level.

Propagate Fritillaria by sowing seeds as soon as ripe, in a cold frame, protecting them from frost. Sow the seeds quite thinly to avoid the need to prick out the seedlings. They will germinate in the spring. Once they have germinated, give them an occasional liquid feed to ensure that they do not suffer mineral deficiency. After they die down, at the end of their second growing season, divide up the small bulbs and plant 2 or 3 of them in an 8 cm deep pot. Grow them on for at least another year in light shade in the greenhouse before planting them out while dormant.

Another way of propagation is by division of offsets done in late summer. The larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out in the autumn. You can also try to divide dormant bulbs in autumn but replant them immediately.

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