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Talkback: Planting snake's head fritillaries

After seeing these on Gardeners World last week, I would really love to have a go at growing these. They look so pretty and delicate dancing...

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After seeing these on Gardeners World last week, I would really love to have a go at growing these. They look so pretty and delicate dancing about in the breeze. I will be honest, I haven't really given them a lot of thought before, but after seeing them on GW I would love them in my garden.
Hi Kate the first time I saw Snakes head fritillaries they were growing in a clay pan under cover in a Alpine house in some ones garden in Crawley,I had no Idear how small they are.I have seen today my second Painted Lady feeding on Ivy growing on the garden wall in the park.


Sadly the bulbs you see on sale in packets in G/C's are virtually dead. If you want them, either buy them when they are first dug up (Bridgemere often have them and if you go early they are still alive) or buy them already growing and plant out from pots.


It helps to soak bulbs bought now overnight in cold water to rehydrate them but even then success is patchy.  Better, if you can, to buy them in pots next spring and plant them out where you have suitable gaps.


Now I read all this. Yesterday clutching this months GW went into garden and planted some. Wish I'd known about soaking, Makes sense.


Alina W

The other trick is to plant them on their sides so that water doesn't sit in the middle and rot them.

flowering rose

I have  heavy clay soil and i grow these.those pesky red beetles lily beetles have been trying to destroy them but they flower on in spring.I have just planted another variety called vua -vulpis hope its as good.


I have to admit to not knowing abouit the soaking pre planting too.   Have added to mine this autumn, but after all the rain we've had the soil was very wet, not damp! Makes sense as they do like water meadows- think of the ones in Oxford, wonderful sight.

Am lucky though, as have mine in an area of my part shade garden where there is some clay soil. I noticed last spring that they have spread to an adjacent border, which is dryer- definitely didnt plant any there.

Lily beetles are a pest, I just try & catch & stamp on as many as poss. Some years worse than others. J.

Alina W

Mine thrive and spread happily at the edge of my rockery, which is fairly dry.

Muvs Dashwood

I saw some packets of fritillarie seeds at the GC this week. Would be cheaper if you wanted a lot but I don't know how successful they would be.

Alina W

I've never tried sowing the seeds, but they seem to self-seed readily where the soil suits them.


Oh! Lily beetle! didn't think they would succumb. Is it some sort of provda or something that helps controll them?

Alina W

The only thing that you can do is use a systemic insecticide, or keep checking.

I bought & planted 40 bulbs in autumn 1993 in a damp,shady front garden,in the grass. Only 12 came up and flowered but had 44 flowers by 1997. Flower counts then went 32,32,42.52,63,58,87,113,120,154,118,197 in 2009. then 175 & 139 by this year. I have dug up quite a lot forcustomers gardens ( I am a pro gardener) but they self-seed readily. I have also sown seed sowed when ripe into seed trays and covered with grit. Left out all winter and came up like cress. THink they took 4 years or so before getting to flowering size.


Kate Bradbury

Hi everyone, thanks for your comments. That's a great tip about soaking the bulbs before planting them, obelixx.

Regarding lily beetle, I've heard that if you lay newspaper beneath the plants and knock the adults off the flowers, you can gather them up easily and dispose of them. If you don't use newspaper they can quickly disappear. A systemic pesticide will kill lily beetle, but the chemicals will also be taken into the pollen and nectar of the flowers and be collected by bees, which doesn't kill them outright but can cause problems for them back at the nest. I've not had lily beetle on my fritillaries yet but it's only a matter of time!




My garden has fritillaries and the lily beetle has been a bit of a problem in recent years.  I plant mine in the green like you do with snowdrops.  I pot up the bigger bulbs as I have had some lovely surprises with them - two headed and even three-headed flowers and pure white large flowers.  I will post a picture on the forum.

Woodgreen wonderboy

Bought some bulbs at Malvern Autumn Flower Show, where stuff is always good value and lots of choice. Planted in individual small pots, and most have come up. Didn't soak first. Now sitting in Alpine house to flower, after which I will plant in wildflower grass area to add to those already there. Will probably repeat the exercise next Autumn. One of Nature's most beautiful small and natural plants.

flowering rose

if you go to the donkey sanctuary at sidmouth and walk to the beach through the fields ,you will see a field of lovely fritillaries,at least the last time i went in spring it was a wonderful sight.

Head for North Meadow at Cricklade, near Swindon, if you get the chance. Two million fritillaries! Mid-April.