Plant of the Month
Crinum augustum, ‘Queen Emma,’ Queen Emma lily
‘Queen Emma’s purple leaves make a brilliant contrast to other variegated plants. The starburst growth pattern is quite unique and the lily is big enough to make a dramatic statement in the landscape.
One of the biggest of the crinum lilies, it grows to about 7 to 8 feet in height with an equal spread. The most noticeable feature is the purple foliage. My plant is growing in a good amount of shade and has greenish-purple leaves. Plants growing in sun have much more purple in the leaves.
This vigorous plant seems to be in bloom all the time. Spiderlike blooms open up from purple buds to a pale lilac-white shade. Flowers are 6 inches across and are carried in clusters. Narrow straplike blooms and the sheer size of the plant makes the blooms appear less spectacular. The bloom clusters are lightly fragrant and set viable seed in my unsprayed yard. The huge leaves are long and narrow and easily reach 4 to 5 feet in length. No rust seems to bother the foliage. Compare this to the common white-flowering Asiatic crinum lily that has rust spots on the foliage, which can make leaves unsightly. The rust problem is caused by overwatering or watering in the afternoon or evening.
A tough plant, it tolerates drought and some salt air. It is not a front-line, salt-tolerant plant like the Asiatic white-flowering crinum, but it will do nicely with some protection near the shore. The only possible pest would be the lubber grasshopper, but I have not heard of any damage to the ‘Queen Emma’ lily from this chewing pest.
An improved ‘Queen Emma’ lily is offered by Jesse Durkos Nursery featuring dark red/purple foliage, which does not fade much in part shade.
Origin — Sumatra.
Foliage — Reddish/purple fading to almost green in shady spots.
Growth rate — Moderate.
Nutritional requirements — Low.
Soil requirements — Not fussy.
Salt tolerance — Moderate.
Drought tolerance — Good.
Light requirements — Sun to partial shade.
Propagation — Seed, division.
Major problems — Possible rust or lubber grasshoppers.
Environmental problems — None, but plant is poisonous if eaten.
A useful small book on allergy-causing plants found in Florida has recently come to my attention. This book, Betrock’s Allergenic Plants of Florida, is co-authored by Derek Burch and Irv Betrock and is a must for medical offices. The allergy-sensitive public will also find this book invaluable. It is the first book in a series of Allergenica publications that will become available over time.
The book covers weeds, grasses, trees and shrubs with useful descriptions and color photos of the offending plants. The text often gives the time of year to expect certain allergies to occur. Line drawings and photos help identify the culprits. The book sells for $9.95, plus tax and shipping. It is available on Betrock’s Web site, www.hort world.com and by calling 954-981-2821.
Fertilize: Get out your palm fertilizer and apply to all trees, shrubs, fruit trees, palms and groundcovers in the yard. Fertilize lawns with 16-4-8 fertilizer in March, June and October.
Plant: Annuals and vegetables should be planted starting this month. Many folks report good results from container gardening. Place containers on cement and use sterilized soil to eliminate nematode problems. The bigger the container, the less watering is needed. Try 5- to 7-gallon containers and make sure drain holes are present or punch them out yourself. Tomatoes and peppers are particularly popular crops grown this way.
Irrigation: The dry season resumes in midmonth, so inspect the irrigation system for broken heads, leaks or plants that have overgrown the heads.
Clean up: Look for damage caused by high winds this season. Hurricane season continues through November.
Pests: Look for pests that are still busy chewing up plantings. Army and sod webworm on lawns, cutworm on annuals and vegetables, mites, thrips, scale and mealybug are all active now.
Robert Haehle is an author, freelance writer and horticultural consultant. He lives in Fort Lauderdale.
- Crinum lily
- Crinum Lily
- Crinum Lily Care Must-Knows
- More Varieties for Crinum Lily
- Crinum Species, Giant Spider Lily, Queen Emma Lily
- Crinum Flowers: How To Grow Crinum Lilies
- How to Grow Crinum Lilies
Crinum lilies have graced Southern homesteads with its bold presence for centuries. In cold climates, crinum lilies shine in pots on a patio during summer but need to be overwintered inside. Whether grown in-ground or in a pot, the plants send out fragrant spidery flowers in shades of white, pink, and red in early summer. Flower stalks emerge above 2- to 3-foot-tall arching straplike green leaves. Sometimes plants grow a second flower stalk in late summer.
Crinum Lily Care Must-Knows
Crinum lilies thrive for decades with little care as long as they’re in the right location. They grow best in part shade, but tolerate about any amount of light. They feel equally at home in dry, sandy soil and in moist soil at the edge of a pond. (Moist soil is where they’ll bloom best.) Potted plants need a large vessel filled with quality potting mix.
See more houseplants with amazing foliage.
Like other members of the amaryllis family, these huge leafy plants emerge from gigantic pest-resistant bulbs rarely bothered by deer and rodents. Though these tropical bulbs can be planted year-round, spring is the best planting time. Avoid fall and winter to prevent cold damage. Make sure the largest part of the bulb is underground with the thin neck, or growing point, just above the soil surface. For containers, choose one 2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb. (They like to be pot-bound.) During growing season, keep the soil moist and fertilize regularly.
This plant is sometimes hard to find in local nurseries, so check online sources and perennial providers for varieties in a host of colors.
Love tropical plants? Read our tips on how to use them in your garden here.
More Varieties for Crinum Lily
Crinum asiaticum bears clusters of spidery white flowers top a large central stem. The large, dark green leaves may reach 3 feet long on a plant that grows 5 feet tall or more. Zones 8-11
Southern swamp lily
Crinum americanum offers white spiderlike petals that droop from a central stem. This Southeastern native does best in moist or west soil and blooms in late summer. The plant grows 2 feet tall. Zones 9-11
Crinum Species, Giant Spider Lily, Queen Emma Lily
Ponds and Aquatics
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
Sun to Partial Shade
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Where to Grow:
Unknown – Tell us
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Unknown – Tell us
Unknown – Tell us
Late Spring/Early Summer
Unknown – Tell us
Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Huntington Beach, California
Boynton Beach, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida(2 reports)
North Miami Beach, Florida
Orlando, Florida(2 reports)
Plant City, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida(2 reports)
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Sun City Center, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
KAILUA KONA, Hawaii
Wailua Homesteads, Hawaii
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
College Station, Texas
Galveston, Texas(2 reports)
New Caney, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Cabin Creek, West Virginia
Crinum Flowers: How To Grow Crinum Lilies
Crinum lilies (Crinum spp.) are large, heat and moisture loving plants, producing an abundant array of showy flowers in summer. Grown in gardens of southern plantations; many still exist in those areas, overtaken by swamps and bogs. The crinum plant is often referred to as the southern swamp lily, spider lily or as a cemetery plant, indicating it was often used to adorn graveyards of centuries past.
Regaining popularity in the landscape, crinum is usually started from large bulbs, although growing plants can be found in nurseries as well. The crinum plant can also be grown from the large seeds it produces or by offsets called pups.
The crinum plant reaches 3 to 5 feet at maturity and the same around. Foliage is spirally arranged, coarse and open. It is often used for a short, growing hedge where blooms and fragrance can be enjoyed. Locate crinum lilies in groups, spacing plants 4 to 6 feet apart. The coarse, draping foliage may appear unkempt, at which time the crinum plant can be trimmed, removing bottom leaves for a tidier appearance.
How to Grow Crinum Lilies
Plant the large bulbs in full sun or filtered light in early spring. As moisture helps this large plant become established, a few water retention pellets in the soil are useful when planting crinum lilies. A mound of soil around outer edges of the crinum plant helps in directing water to the roots. Bulbs should not sit in water, soil should drain well.
Crinum flowers appear in late summer, offering fragrance and large, showy blooms. They are available in a range of cultivars such as pink-striped ‘Milk and Wine,’ and the white flowering ‘Alba.’
A member of the Amaryllis family, crinum flowers grow on rigid, sturdy spikes (called scapes). In warmer zones, crinum flowers persist for most of the year.
Most information indicates the crinum plant is limited to USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11, where they function as evergreen perennials with long lasting flowers. However, the resilient crinum lily bulbs are known to exist and keep blooming for decades as far north as zone 7. The crinum plant performs as an herbaceous perennial in colder areas, dying to the ground in winter and shooting up with the daffodils and tulips in spring.
Though drought resistant in times of necessity, the crinum lily prefers consistently moist soil unless dormant. Plant a few of the large crinum lily bulbs for showy masses of flowers and fragrance in the landscape.