The Grand Crinum Lily
By Ralph E. Mitchell
A recent program at our yearly Landscape Gardening Series was one on “Lilies and Iris” presented by our own Thomas Becker, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ UF/IFAS Education/Training Specialist. One plant in the lily family that Tom highlighted was a flowering bulb called the Crinum lily. There are many types and cultivars suitable to keep a collector going for years, but one common type that is found throughout landscapes in Charlotte County and across Florida is the one called the Grand Crinum Lily. This is a big plant with an equally big, intricate and stunning flower.
The grand crinum lily is a big plant with green, strap-like leaves at least three-feet long, and four inches wide. This crinum forms a big rosette of leaves growing up to seven-feet across, and up to five feet high. The bulb which forms underground is one of the biggest in nature – some weighing upwards to forty pounds. Perfectly hardy for our area, the grand crinum will grow in both sunny to part-shade sites with well-drained soil. The large plant is suited to mass planting and as an accent plant or specimen. There is a nice mass-planting of grand crinum to the left of the County Administration Center entrance off of Murdock Circle. This gives a nice tropical look to the area with little extra care as this flowering bulb offers moderate drought tolerance.
Beyond the foliage is the much-anticipated flower head. A large stem supports a cluster of white sweet-smelling flowers that open up and flare out into a large, foot-wide, corona of delicate petals intersecting with maroon-colored filaments. Flower heads will occur year-round and will develop large seed pods which often weigh themselves down to the ground. Multiple huge seeds develop and readily sprout. Bulblets from mature plants can be divided during the winter for quick and easy propagation.
Lubber grasshoppers are perhaps the worst insect pest as crinums and others in the lily family are their favored foods. Some leaf spot diseases are also known to develop on occasion. Another name for the grand crinum lily is “poison bulb” – all parts are poisonous. As such, keep this in mind and take precautions if children and pets are present.
Big and beautiful, the grand crinum is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ plant recommended for our area. For more information on all types of flowering bulbs suitable for our section of Florida, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/files/2018/01/Plant-Clinics-Schedule.pdf .
Scheper, J. & Christman, S. (2011) Crinum asiaticum. Floridata.com, Tallahassee, FL.
Gilman, E. F. (2014) Crinum spp. Crinum Lily. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS.