Crinum Lily

peanut01(7VA)April 9, 2009

I just purchased several jumbo crinum lilies off of ebay. Has anyone in Central VA had any luck wintering these plants outside yet. Have they evolved hardy enough or has the greenhouse effect changed our zone lines? lol

Anyway I was wondering what would be better for these plants.

Option A 1/2 whisky barrel south facing wall left outside through winter

Option B 1/2 whisky barrel south facing wall left in unheated garage through winter

Option C Plant in groung on south facing wall and cover with 6 inches of mulch all around beofre first frost

Option D Dig up and put in garage in dark box until the next season

I spent $95 on the 2 crinums that i received - the bulbs are the size of soccer balls and I also received 4 pups with the 2 crinums so I really want to treat them well and thank anyone for their advise in advance.

Also if anyone has any experience with cannas in VA I could really use some input. I accidentally won 60 lbs of rhizomes off of ebay and have never grown a canna in my life :)

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I'm actually in southeastern VA, so it's a bit warmer here, but I have grown numerous crinums here for years. A lot depends on the species or variety in question - some should be perfectly hardy for you under conditions B-D; I would dismiss option A completely, except perhaps for C. bulbispermum, and even that would be a risk. Option D is going to be extremely difficult, even after one season's growth, and it may also prevent blooming, since these bulbs don't bloom well after being disturbed. Option C will be your best choice, as long as you're starting with a hardy variety to begin with. Some, like C. asiaticum and X 'Empress of India' are not hardy even here with protection, so have to be grown in pots. I wrote a blog entry on crinums last summer which may give you some more useful info -

Cannas are easy, but also will probably need winter protection in the form of a deep mulch in your area. Also, be on the look out for Canna leaf roller, which is a caterpillar that rolls itself up inside the developing foliage and prevents the stems from growing and blooming properly. Cutting stems completely to the ground after they bloom and throwing them in the trash is very helpful in controlling these; cannas are one of the few things I don't add to the compost pile for this reason.

Everything is hardier when planted in the ground, as opposed to in pots, even large ones, so keep that in mind with those as well. Both Cannas and Crinums like as much sun, moisture, and organic matter as they can get, especially during the warm summer months. In winter, however, well drained soil prevents rotting of bulbs and rhizomes when they're dormant. Lots of variables involved, as you can tell.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 4:00AM
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Thanks for the prompt response and thorough answer. I fell more confident after reading your post.

The crinums that I received were Crinum x Bradley (C. scabrum x C. flaccidum) and Crinum x JC Harvey (C. zeylanicum x C. moorei). I ended up planting the Bradley outside on west wall in a raised bed. I planted the 2 JC Harvey pups in 6" pots and the momma bulb in a 20" pot. I received the JC Harvey's in the mail with 4 tiers of foliage already. I will probably put the JC Harvey's in the ground next season after I successfully winter the Bradley. The JC Harvey plants all seemed to perk up after I planted them. The Bradley makes me nervous though since I received it as a bulb with no growth and I have not noticed anything since I put it in the ground. I may just need to relax and wait for the summer to come. My biggest problem is that I have a zone 9 hobby living in a zone 7 town. The coldest it should get here might be 40 degrees at night maybe for the next 3 weeks or so every once in awhile then it is onto the heat of the summer.

Questions: How fast do crinums grow? Can I expect these bulbs to multiply or bloom this year? (they are both about the size of cantaloupes) Pertaining to the crinums that have foliage already... Does this help or hurt my chances or flowering and multiplying this year?(may be dumb question but I am not really sure... i know that some plants take time to establish)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:12PM
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It helps to know the varieties - JC Harvey is generally hardier than Bradley, but both do well here in the ground for me. I do mulch Bradley pretty heavily in the fall, but it's growing pretty well at this point. Where you are, I wouldn't worry yet about Bradley's not showing growth, and it should be fine from here on out.

Having foliage already shouldn't make any difference, and, based on my experience, you may get more blooms the first year after transplanting than the second. That's because the flower buds were formed during the last growing season, before the plants were dug and divided. This year the plants will expend more energy getting established, and may not produce as many buds or offsets as in the future.

Multiplication depends on many things, but Amaryllids (including crinums) tend to divide more if they're planted shallowly, less if planted deeply. For example, I have a clump of "Hannibal's Dwarf" which multiplies like crazy, but almost never blooms. When I can muster the energy I'm going to reset it lower to try to convince it to bloom, rather than offset. Both of your varieties generally produce lots of offsets, so you might expect to see some of that this year, but I'd give them a year or two to put down roots and get established.

I totally understand the "zone denial", and it goes in both directions for me. I lose more cold climate plants (hardy orchids, species peonies) during summer than warm climate plants in the summer, so it makes sense to experiment.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 4:10AM
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Fellow Crinum Enthusiast,
I have been growing crinums in the Burkeville area for several years. Other than the truly tropical ones, most are fine here if you plant the bulbs about 18 inches deep. If starting with little bulbs don't fill the hole in all at once or you might smother the poor thing. Or plant in a pot, grow for a season, overwinter inside, and then plant deeply outside the next year. Mulch helps too. Also a site that receives sun in the winter stays warmer than a shaded site. Crinums also like rich soil, organic fertilizer, and supplemental water is rainfall is slack. I could go on and on, but will stop for now. Let me know if you have further questions.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 3:42PM
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