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Fritillaria Planting Guide

Fun, Fabulous Fritillaria! This group of bulbs tends to show up in formal and botanical gardens more often than in home gardens and that's a shame. From the unusual, highly variable patterns of checkered lilies to the fragrance of yellow fritillary to the wild party hat appearance of the crown imperials, these are fun flowers. Try a few this fall and see what you think come spring. We're betting you'll be back for more.

Success Snapshot


Species dependent; 3-6"




Full to Partial Sun


Species dependent; 4-12"




Zones 4-9

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3" to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Fritillaria require a well drained site and will not thrive in soggy soil.
  2. These bulbs thrive in a variety of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade to dappled shade. Please check the information on each product page for the light preferences of your individual variety. Note: some noses find the smell of crown imperial fritillaria unpleasant; back of the border positions are therefore perfect locations.
  3. Dig holes and plant the bulbs as follows:
    • Yellow fritillaria, checkered lilies and Purple bell fritillaria - 4" deep and 4" apart.
    • Crown Imperials - 5-6" deep and 10-12" apart. Note - these bulbs typically have a hole in the top center where last year's stem grew. This looks odd but is perfectly normal. Plant with the hole facing upwards.
  4. These bulbs are rounded, with small points or slight indentations on top, depending on type. This is the side that that should be placed facing up. Or, if your bulbs have small roots still attached, use those to determine which side is the bottom.
  5. After planting, water well, gently soaking the soil. Roots will form in the fall. Foliage and flowers will form in the spring.
  6. When in bloom, feel free to cut the shorter fritillaria flowers for striking bouquets. Cutting the stems of Crown Imperials often means taking 1/2 to 2/3 of the stalk and this can negatively impact the following spring's flower production.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate. Fritillaria like dry sites when they are dormant.
  8. By early to mid summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage many be removed at this point. Your bulbs will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.
Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns
Fritillaria do best when the bulbs are left undisturbed for long periods of time. For this reason they are not recommended for containers
Note: some people with sensitive skin have an itchy or tingly reaction to handling fritillaria bulbs. If you are unsure, the safest way to go is to wear gloves when planting your bulbs.