Every year we enjoy searching through the catalogues and are nearly always tempted to try something a little different that we have not grown before. In March 2018 we bought three Crinum x powelli ‘Album’ bulbs to see if we could successfully grow these dramatic plants with their large white trumpet flowers.
Although they are classed as fully hardy we thought we would be cautious and plant them in pots at first. This would allow us to move them into the polytunnel in winter to give them some additional protection. Crinum bulbs are simply enormous and so we had to get hold of some suitably large terracotta pots. We planted the bulbs in a mix of ⅔ John Innes No 3 compost and ⅓ perlite. We used perlite (instead of grit) to add extra drainage but also to reduce the overall weight.
The plants grew well in the first year producing a profusion of large strappy leaves but no flowers. We were warned that we might need to be patient (something we find a bit difficult!) and allow them to settle in. Last year however, in early August, we were rewarded with the most wonderful display of large white trumpet flowers. We had up to eight flowers per stem, opening in succession, on tall study stems. They looked wonderful amongst the dahlias and blue agapanthus.
Over winter we have been protecting the pots in our cold polytunnel and I came across them yesterday as I was moving a number of small fruit trees. They look comfortably dormant at the moment but it struck me that it might be timely to read up on how to prepare them for the coming season.
Anna Pavord’s book ‘Bulb’¹ advises 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. Bearing in mind that the books also indicate that they hate root disturbance I think that I will carefully scrap away the top layer of soil and and give them a top dressing of fresh compost ready for the new year.
As the plants grow to 36 inches in height I think I probably need to be better at feeding and watering them next year. I must admit that once the summer is in full swing we don’t always feed plants as much as we probably should. However, I think I must try harder if these Crinums are to have all they need to grow their large leaves, flower profusely and maintain the bulb for the following year.
These are such lovely plants and if you have the space I would certainly recommend that you give them a go.
Hybrid: Crinum x powellii is a hybrid cross between C. moorei and C. bulbispermum
¹ “Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)