Crinum x powellii – exploring something new to flower in late summer

Every year we have fun trying out a number of new things. This year we are trying to grow Crinum, something we have seen in other gardens and the catalogues but have never tried before.

Anna Pavord’s introduction to Crinum in her book ‘Bulb’ creates a lovely image – “Crinums bring a wonderfully dangerous whiff of the tropics to gardens set in more sober, temperate parts of the world” . Sounds enticing doesn’t it!

The bulbs we have purchased (from Sarah Raven) are of Crinum x powelli ‘Album’. This hybrid is a white form with large, wide trumpet like flowers with up to a dozen on each head. They flower in late summer/early autumn.

The books tell us that in the wild crinums grow on the banks of streams or along lake shores. They require full sun but also require moist but well drained, organic rich soil. Although the ones we have chosen are fully hardy and can be planted in the flower beds, many writers indicate that their large strap like leaves make them difficult to integrate into a mixed boarder. Equally they seem to hate root disturbance once they are established and so if we get the placing wrong we are unlikely to be able to move them around later.

We have therefore decided to grow the three bulbs we have bought in three large pots. This will enable us to move them around and place them in different parts of the garden to try them out. At this point we feel they might go well with other South African plants like Agapanthus but time will tell.

Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale
Huge Crinum bulb with 2p piece for scale

The bulbs of these plants are simply enormous and we have had to get hold of some suitably sized pots. We are going to plant the bulbs in a mix of ⅔ John Innes No 3 compost and ⅓ perlite. We are using perlite here, instead of grit, to add extra drainage but also with the aim of reducing the overall weight thereby making them more manageable when we want to move them around. As the plants grow to 36 inches in height these large plants will need feeding and watering regularly to ensure they have all they need to grow the large leaves, flower profusely and maintain the bulb for next year.

We will let you know later in the year how we get on. We may not get flowers in this first year so may have to be patient (not one of my strengths when it comes to gardening!)

Further information

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Hybrid: Crinum x powellii is a hybrid cross between C.moorei and C.bulbispermum

Photography credit – feature image

By Inga Munsinger Cotton from San Antonio, USA (Pink flowers) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Further reading

“Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)


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