Fritillaria Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Fritillaria plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Fritillary, Missionbell, & Crown Imperial: Cultivation & Garden Use

Fritillaria plants reach about 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 inches) in height. They bear bell shaped flowers of yellow, orange, purple, green, or white in the spring.

They make for great edging and border plants.

Some common names for Fritillaria include Fritillary, Toad lily, Missionbell, Snake's head Fritillary, Guinea hen flower, and Crown Imperial.

Fritillaria imperialis

Fritillaria biflora
Photographs: Fritillaria imperialis by bengt-re’s and Fritillaria biflora by mikebaird.

Fritillaria Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Fritillary, Missionbell, Checkered Lily, Crown Imperial, Chocolate Lily, Guinea-hen Flower, Snake’s Head Fritillary, Snake’s Head Lily, Leper Lily, Toad Lily.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb.
Height: 4 to 48 inches (10 to 120 cm).
Native: Northern Hemisphere; temperate.
Family: Liliaceae.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 10.
Flowers: Spring.
Flower Details: White, plum, green, brown, orange, yellow. Bell-shaped.
Foliage: Tufted leaves.
Growing Outside: Usually grown from bulbs as seed grown plants will not bear flowers for about five years.
Bulbs: Small 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm); Large 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). Surrond with coarse sand. Late in summer and early Autumn.
Seeds: Cover. Germination time: Up to one and a half years.
Seed: Method 1: Seeds should first be sown into flats in the autumn. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Bring the flats indoors at the beginning of spring and keep at 55 to 60°F (13 to 16°C). Transplant seedlings towards the end of summer or early autumn.
Seed: Method 2: In the spring, mix seeds in a moist growing medium, then put in flats, wrap in a large plastic bag, then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Next bury the flat as described above. Once seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage; add gravel. Rich soil. Winter mulch. Divide every four to five years to maintain shape. Propagate: by planting bulblets in the autumn.
Miscellaneous: Deer do not like to eat Fritillaria plants.

How to Grow Fritillary and other Fritillaria Plants in the Garden

Fritillaria can be grown from seed or bulbs. The bulbs should be planted outdoors at the end or summer through to the beginning of Autumn.

The Fritillary bulbs should be planted 10 cm / 4 inches (small species) to 20 cm / 8 inches deep, and have the tops surrounded by sand.

If you like a challenge, then Fritillary seeds can be planted indoors in the spring. The Fritillary seeds should be sown into a flat (just cover the seeds), then imbibed by putting the flat into a black plastic bin bag, and placing in the fridge for three weeks.

The flat should then be removed, and sunk into the ground in a shady location.

As soon as the seedlings appear (germination takes from one to one and a half years!), they should be planted at a spacing of about 10 cm / 4 inches (small species) to 25 cm / 10 inches (large species) apart. Locate in a sunny or partially shaded part of the garden, that has good drainage.

Caring for Fritillary in your Garden

Fritillary likes to grow in a rich soil. It will take about five years until the Fritillary will flower.

They should be mulched in the winter. Fritillary will produce bulblets, these may lead to too many plants in close proximity, and therefore they should be controlled by dividing every five years or so.

The Fritillary bulblets can also be used to propagate more plants in the autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Fritillaria genus have?

The Fritillaria genus is home to around 100 to 130 species.

Do members of Fritillaria make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Fritillaria species, with their unique and striking flowers, make interesting additions to gardens.

Which Fritillaria species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Fritillaria meleagris (Snake's Head Fritillary) and Fritillaria imperialis (Crown Imperial) are frequently grown.

Are members of the Fritillaria plant genus fragrant?

Some Fritillaria species, like the Crown Imperial, have a strong fragrance, which some find unpleasant.

What is the perfect location to grow Fritillaria?

Fritillaria grows well in full sun to part shade, with well-drained soil that's dry in summer.

Is Fritillaria invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Presently, Fritillaria is not known to be invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Fritillaria plants from my garden?

To remove Fritillaria, dig up the bulbs when the plant is dormant, ideally in summer after the foliage dies back.


The Fritillaria genus is a group of spring flowering bulbs from the Liliaceae family. These plants, native to the Northern Hemisphere, are renowned for their uniquely patterned and shaped flowers, often bell-like or bowl-shaped.

To grow Fritillaria, plant the bulbs in the fall, 2-3 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart, in a location with full sun to part shade. They prefer fertile, well-drained soil and should be watered regularly. Keep in mind that some varieties, like the Crown Imperial, dislike being moved once planted.

I hope that you found this guide on how to grow Fritillaria plants in your garden. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow Canna Lily, Tricyrtis plant, and Nomocharis plants.