Crown Imperial Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Fritillaria Imperialis”

Our Guide to Crown Imperial for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Fritillaria Imperialis”
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If you are searching for a beautiful plant to spruce up your garden, Fritillaria Imperialis a.k.a Crown Imperial is exactly what you need! Keep reading to find out more about this easy-going fragrant flower and we promise that by the end of this article you will be charmed by its beauty and low maintenancenature!

Fritillaria imperialis is a peculiar, but beautiful species of flowering plants in the Liliaceae family. This flower goes by several common names in cultivation, such as Crown Imperial, Kaiser’s Crown, or Imperial Fritillary. It is native to a wide range of regions, starting from the Middle East countries through Northern India and the Himalayas.

Crown Imperial plants are very popular ornamentals, coming with numerous interesting varieties to choose from. With a little creativity at play, these flowers can make for gorgeous landscape additions to woodland gardens, borders, garden massing, or seashores. Even if most gardeners treat them as outdoor plants, you can also grow these plants in cute pots and enjoy them in your cosy home.

The cultivars that deserve a place in every gardener’s plant family are ‘Aureomarginata’, ‘Aurora’, ‘Bach’, ‘Beethoven’, ‘Brahms’, ‘Maxima Lutea’, ‘Rubra Maxima’, and ‘The Premier’. If you have not decided yet which one do you want the most, we won’t judge. All varieties are irresistible, so why not choose more than one?

About Fritillaria Imperialis

  • Both the Fritillaria imperialis species and the yellow-bloomer ‘Maxima Lutea’ cultivar have gained the notorious Award of Garden Merit.
  • Their flowers have a distinctive musk-like fragrance and contain large amounts of nectar. Although pleasant for humans, their perfume can repel moles, mice, and other small species of animals.
  • The nectar of their flowers has an important role to play in your garden’s ecosystem as Fritillaria imperialis plants are highly attractive to pollinators. At northern latitudes, a lovely species of birds known as the Eurasian blue tit makes it a rare example of bird pollination.
  • Fritillaria imperialis plants were very important in traditional medicine. Many folks used these plants as a treatment for bronchitis, sore throat, asthma, cough, dysuria, scrofula, hemoptysis, and even gland tumour.
  • Although the roots of Fritillaria Imperialis are poisonous raw, you can consume them cooked in small quantities. Their bulbs serve as a tasteful ingredient to prepare sauces.
  • According to Plants for a Future, they can be pretty toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. For safety purposes, grow Crown Imperial plants in a spot where your beloved pets cannot reach them.
  • Fritillaria imperialis can be the perfect companions to other species of flowering plants including Darwin Hybrid Tulips, Double Early Tulips, Hyacinthus orientalis, Lily-Flowered Tulips, Muscari, or Narcissi.
crown imperial
crown imperial

Fritillaria Imperialis Features: An Overview

  • In general, Fritillaria imperialis plants grow on rocky slopes, along cliffs, and amongst scrubs. They show up at elevations of 3281 to 9843 feet (1000-3000 m) above sea level.
  • They belong to the Fritillaria genus that contains between 130 and 140 species of bulbous flowering plants. The most common species in cultivation are F. acmopetala, F. imperialis, F. meleagris, F. pallidiflora, F. persica, and F. pyrenaica.
  • Fritillaria imperialis plants are herbaceous perennials that can reach from 1 to 3 feet (30-91 cm) in height and up to 1 foot (30 cm) in width. These plants grow at a pretty slow pace.
  • Their foliage is truly spectacular. These plants bear glossy, lance-shaped, and bright green leaves that come along with curly, yellow to reddish-orange margins.
  • Crown Imperial plants usually bloom in mid-spring through late spring. During this period, they produce prominent whorls of downward-facing (pendulous), bell-shaped flowers that will last for two to three weeks.
  • Their blossoms appear at the top of tall, straight, wood-like, and green to red-brown stems. They ‘wear’ a crown of small leaves and can exhibit various shades or mixes of white, orange, yellow, red, and pink.

Growing Fritillaria Imperialis

When it comes to lighting requirements, Fritillaria imperialis plants grow at their best in full sunlight. Make sure you find a spot where your flowers can receive 6 to 8 hours of bright and direct light per day. They can also tolerate partially shaded locations that mimic woodland conditions. However, prolonged shade exposure can result in less vigorous plants and fewer blooms.

In general, Crown Imperial plants are hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9. In regions with cooler climates, you can treat them as annuals or grow them indoors in pots. These flowers will show their eternal gratitude if you mulch them well in autumn to help them withstand colder winter temperatures.

Fritillaria imperialis plants are usually pest and disease-free when you grow them in proper conditions. These flowers need a lot of space to grow, so you should keep 9-12 inches (23-30 cm) space between each bulb to provide good air circulation. By doing this, you have better chances to avoid leaf spots, rust, and other fungal diseases.

Planting Fritillaria Imperialis

In terms of growing medium, Fritillaria imperialis plants are pretty easy-going and can adapt to a wide range of soils. Yet, these plants will be the happiest companions in conditions that simulate their natural habitat. Thus, we recommend planting them on rocky slopes or cliffs with soils that have great drainage. You can also add a layer of sand above the soil to improve drainage.

If you want to grow these beauties in the garden, do not forget about the needed space of 9-12 inches (23-30 cm) between each plant. Moreover, make sure you are planting the Crown Imperial bulbs at 6 to 8 (15-20 cm) inches deep. Before planting, replace the top 8 inches (20 cm) of their soil with 2 inches (5 cm) of compost for optimal growth.

Fritillaria Imperalis Seeds, From Amazon

Fritillaria imperialis plants go dormant in summer. At this very moment, you have to cut their foliage back to the ground and compost it. If you want to keep these plants in shape, you should also divide and replant all the bulbs once every three to five years in fall.

Crown Imperial plants will demand regular fertilizing to remain healthy for as long as possible. Add 2 inches (5 cm) of mulch and 1 inch (2.5 cm) of compost above their growing medium once every year in autumn. This process will help isolate the bulbs and keep invasive weeds at a distance.

Watering Fritillaria Imperialis

Fritillaria imperialis plants are excellent for forgetful growers or beginners due to their ability to tolerate drought. However, these flowers will need a little extra attention when they are actively growing, usually in spring. During this period, you can provide your plants with about one inch (2.5 cm) of water once every week.

Once their active growing season has ended, Crown Imperial plants can thrive without an excessive amount of water. They are susceptible to root rot, so you must avoid over-watering at all costs. It is always better to under-water these flowers than to drown them for a long time.

As a general rule, you should check the soil in-between waterings. When the top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil has dried out completely, this is the perfect time to spoil your Fritillaria imperialis plants with a nice, deep soaking.

Propagating Fritillaria Imperialis

Right now, Fritillaria imperialis plants are, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular buddies out there! If you are the happy owner of these flowers and want even more around, propagating them regularly will be the way to do it. And when they are so fabulous and unique, you cannot possibly go wrong by gifting some of them to your family members or friends!

Luckily, you can propagate Crown Imperial plants through seeds or division with little to no experience in the gardening world required. Now fuel up your inner courage and let’s get to work, gardener!

Fritillaria Imperialis
Fritillaria Imperialis

Once their blooming period has ended, you can collect the seeds from the mother plants. The seeds germinate best if you sow them fresh under glass, usually in autumn. When the germination occurs, let the Fritillaria imperialis seedlings grow in the same container for two years. After this period, you can plant your babies outdoors in the garden or into their own pots.

For faster results, you must divide your established Crown Imperial plants in late summer. First, dig up the plants using a good-quality shovel and remove any extra soil from the roots. In the second step, you can divide the bulbs into as many parts as you wish but make sure each has at least one stem attached. Once you have your small bulbs, you can transplant them in their permanent location and care for them as usual.

In Conclusion

Fritillaria imperialis plants are the missing piece from your spring-blooming collection! Their alluring and exotic presence can hypnotize even the pickiest eyes, so it is almost impossible to resist their natural charm. Plus, with minimal care, they can make for everlasting buddies that will mesmerize your senses with their musk-like perfume. So, which cultivar suits your preferences best?

Do you already have a story with these beauties to tell? Share it with us in the comments!


Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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