The attractive bulb plant belongs to the genus Fritillaria and comes from the lily family. But with its strong flower stalks, which can reach a height of more than 1 meter, it is considered the largest representative in the genus comprising more than 100 species.

Origin and occurrence

The imperial crown was already known as a handsome garden plant in the ancient Orient. But it is also native to Iran and Pakistan and also finds its habitat in the mountainous regions of Turkey where it blooms even in the barren slopes up to an altitude of 3000 meters. The noble plant reached Central Europe around 1573, where it is still one of the most popular and at the same time stately plants, which is ideal for background planting, in cottage gardens and for planting pots and pots.

The species

The imperial crown as a robust, hardy and perennial plant is available in different types that differ not only in their different color tones, but also in their special beauty. The robust Fritillaria Lutea develops yellow flowers, while the Fritillaria Rubra Maxima has red bell-shaped flowers and the Fritillaria Aurora orange bell-shaped flowers. The Fritillaria Kroon of Kroon is in turn characterized by bright red-orange flowers, which also has two flower wreaths, which are arranged one above the other, as a special feature. In addition to these impressive varieties, which have been bred from the wild form of the imperial crown over time, there are also rare rarities and other species.

  • Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aureomarginata’ – is an absolute rarity that has been in culture since 1665 and is always valued as a very rare treasure. It has a creamy yellow leaf edge and prefers an unrivaled place in the garden where it is cared for and cherished.
  • Fritillaria imperialis ‘Argenteovariegata’ – this variety has been in cultivation since 1771 and has an ivory-white leaf border and orange-red flowers from April. She does not tolerate competition in the garden and wants to be looked after and cherished.
  • Fritillaria imperialis ‘Garland Star’ – particularly large corolla with many orange-colored flower bells and a dark-colored, very stable flower stem, is considered a particularly vigorous variety and is ideal for cottage gardens, but can also set unique accents in small or large groups in the garden. This fascinating plant has already received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Fritillaria persica – Persian imperial crown – is a close relative of the imperial crown with plum-colored, dark, slightly fragrant flower bells, loves only a warm, summer-dry location and a well-drained soil
  • Fritillaria raddeana – dwarf imperial crown – greenish, cream-colored or sulfur-yellow flowers, very persistent, prefers a very dry location, which is why it is ideal for rock gardens.

The site

Imperial crowns are modest plants that do not require any special requirements. And yet some essential points should be observed with this plant:

  • prefer a warm and sunny to partially shaded location
  • In borders, it is advisable to plant the flower in the middle, as it is more effective because of its size
  • goes perfectly with spring flowers of the same color
  • however, other plants should be lower for visual reasons
  • if there are other flowers of the same height, they should have a later flowering period
  • and stand so close together that they cover the dried up inflorescence of the imperial crown

The floor

So that the dreamlike flowers can sprout intensively, the imperial crowns require a very permeable and nutrient-rich soil. If the garden soil is too heavy, it can be loosened up with a little sand.

Watering and fertilizing

The remarkable lily plant does not require extensive care and will decorate the garden impressively for many years if:

  • it is only watered regularly when it is dry for a long period of time
  • However, waterlogging must be avoided at all costs so that the onion cannot rot
  • You can choose to fertilize with a mineral fertilizer such as blue grain or with ripe compost or with manure, if this is available
  • If the first shoot appears from the end of March to the beginning of April, the still young plant a hand’s breadth above the ground, this should also be fertilized so that the high nutrient requirements can be covered
  • this is done by first sprinkling the fertilizer around each plant and then working it lightly into the soil
  • a second fertilization then takes place again after the flowering period in May – June

The ideal planting time

As a rule, the onions of the imperial crown can be planted all year round in frost-free weather. However, so that the lily family can show its noble flower bells as early as next year from April to May, planting should be done as early as possible.

  • therefore the best planting time is August to September
  • because during this period the remaining heat from the soil can be used to form roots
  • the planting depth should be between 25 cm and 30 cm
  • Pay attention to sufficient depth even with larger onions
  • Tip: The three times the strength of the onion is also the optimal planting depth
  • the ideal distance is between 30 cm and 40 cm
  • Imperial crowns can be planted individually or in groups of 5 to 8 or 10 bulbs per square meter
  • Caution! Purchased onions of the imperial crown can only be stored for a short time!

Waterlogging also leads to putrefaction in onions:

  • Fill the planting hole with a layer of gravel of 1 cm to 2 cm or alternatively with a handful of sand
  • Since the flower also prefers permeable soils, sand should be mixed in with heavy clay or loam soils
  • A 1: 1 mix of good compost to which a little clay has been added is also advantageous
Tip: When planting the flower bulb, the upper side, which can be recognized by the reddish buds, always points upwards. In order to avoid waterlogging here too, the onion can also be placed at an angle in the planting hole during autumn planting so that less moisture collects.

Sowing and propagation

Propagating the imperial crown is quite easy because the bulb of the plant divides itself.
Once this process is completed in August, the individual halves can then be easily moved to a new location, depending on how often the brooding onion has split.

The imperial crown can also be propagated by sowing seeds. Because if the seed is ripe in late summer, it is immediately ready to be sown outdoors.

  • because only very fresh seeds can germinate
  • Imperial crowns are also cold germs, which is why the seeds have to be exposed to frost
  • because then the first small plants appear in the following spring


The imperial crown has some special features. So she likes to stay in the same location and does not like transplanting to another place at all. Because the bulb flowers then feel disturbed in their growth and show this with a significantly weaker bloom. If the imperial crown is replanted, it must be taken into account that it can take 1 to 2 years before it shows its beautiful shine. If it is grown from seeds, plants will develop in the next year, but in this case too it will take a few years to flower for the first time.

Cut the imperial crown

When the plant has finished flowering, the flower stalk above the leaves should be removed immediately. The remainder remains, however, until this has also completely yellowed and can be removed around the end of July. In this way, the bulb plant can gather new strength for the coming season and then beautify the home gardens in all its splendor. But it is also an advantage to leave a 10 cm long stem when pruning, so that the imperial crown can also be recognized when working in autumn and is not accidentally removed.


The delightful lily plant is hardy and can therefore remain in the ground to overwinter during the cold season.


Just like the lilies, the imperial crown is not infrequently infested with the lily cockerel. This 6 mm to 8 mm pest is a beetle with a varnished exterior. From the end of March it begins to feed on the leaves before the yellow-gray larvae appear in spring, which are often covered with slimy droppings and are located on the underside of the leaf. As a countermeasure, regular collection of the beetles and larvae on the one hand and an insect dust such as spruzite dust or hortex on the other hand help. Since the imperial crown is very resilient, diseases rarely occur in this plant.

The imperial crown drives away voles
The attractive plant gives off an unpleasant and extremely pungent odor, which primarily comes from the onion and protects plants such as tulips and crocuses from unwelcome guests. Because, according to the experience of hobby gardeners, the penetrating smell contributes significantly to the fact that vegetarian pests such as moles and voles can be successfully driven out of the home garden.

Toxins in the imperial crown

Even if the lily plant is extremely decorative, the plant contains fritillin and imperialin toxins that are present in high concentrations in the onion. Typical symptoms of poisoning include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Cramps occur and cardiovascular problems (drop in blood pressure) may occur. If the dose is too high, death from cardiac arrest occurs. Therefore, the onions of the imperial crown should always be stored out of the reach of children. But be careful! Imperial crowns are poisonous not only to humans but also to animals such as dogs, cats and birds.

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