General gardening topics

How to grow fritillaries from planting bulbs to general care

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Fritillaries are bulbs that add bell-shaped flowers to your garden, ranging from bold flowers that demand all attention, down to the more discreet and delicate flowers that are unaware of their beauty. 

Some of the varieties originated in British Meadows made up of mostly the smaller delicate varieties commonly known as snake heads while others come from Eastern Europe such as Fritillaria imperialism which can get as tall as 5ft and look very exotic.

Most will grow very well in the Uk as we have a similar climate such as moist well-drained soil.

Where to Plant

fritillaria imperialis

When you start off with your fritillaries, you have to decide upon where you will grow them. They all do best in well-drained soil with bright sunshine or in moisture retentive soil in mostly partial shaded areas with full sun or partial shade being what needs to be most considered as they will thrive in the same soil well-drained soil regardless of variety. This is based upon the variety you choose which is why you should plan the species of fritillaries you select in accordance with where you want to put them in your garden.

For example, the larger Fritillaria imperialism need full sun while the smaller Fritillaria meleagris will grow in full sun but also partial shade too. With this in mind, you need to check what position the type of fritillaries you are planting need.

Plant bulbs in September to October

Fritillaria meleagris bulbs

Once you have decided upon the type and the location it’s time to start planting. The bulbs should be planted directly in the ground in September or October which is when you usually start to see them for sale in garden centres and nurseries.

Plant bulbs at least 4 times there own depth

If you choose to grow on of the larger bulbs which are pretty impressive in size, they should be planted deeply around 30 centimetres below the surface. As a general rule, for all types, you need to plant them around 4 times the depth of the bulb which is important to get them to flower successfully, one reason they sometimes don’t flower is that they were planted too shallow.

Fritillaria meleagris

You can also buy the smaller varieties already growing in pots often sold with perennial or rockery plants. These can be planted as soon as you buy them at the depth they are in the pot.

Regular Care

After you have planted your fritillaries, you allow really allow the foliage to die down completely before cutting them back.

Mulching and feeding

For the larger varieties that demand all your attention but are well worth the extra effort, you should add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant in springtime as soon as you see the first shoots push their way out of the ground and give them a dose of tomato fertilizer every two weeks until they start to flower.


fritillaria imperialis

Sowing seeds

You can choose to propagate successful plants from your garden in one of two ways. The first is to propagate by seed but this can take around two years from germinating to planting out so takes a lot of patience.

This requires you to sow the seeds under glass in Autumn until they are germinated, you can then prick them out into single small single pots. After that point you have to allow the seedlings to continue growing for 2 years, sometimes moving them and just slightly larger containers, before you plant them in your garden when they are big enough.

Dividing clumps at the end of summer

The second is to wait until a mature plant is in need of division which is usually every 3-4 years but is not usually essential. You can divide clumps at the end of Summer by simply pulling them out of the ground and splitting them off and then adding the newly split bulbils into containers or the ground.

Pests and Problems

Snake Heads

Fritillaries are relatively free from any problems with a couple of exceptions. They are a member of the lily family which means your biggest problem is going to be that of the Lily Beetle which is becoming a problem in the Uk.

Lily beetles are bright red and as soon as you see them on the plant you need to remove them by hand.

You can learn more about lily beetles and how to control them in this guide.

You should also take precautions against snails and slugs by using a slug barrier along the perimeter of your fritillaries or by using beer traps nestled into the ground around your fritillaries.

Learn more about how to control slugs in this guide.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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