Fritillaria are a genus of about 100 species of bulbs the most commonly grown of which are F. melegaris known as Snake's Head fritillary, illustrated top left and F. imperialis, right.
Fritillaria look really exotic but are in fact relatively easy to grow and fully hardy.
The Snake's head fritillary has a delicate chequered flower in purple or white and it is fully hardy. It will grow both in full sun on well drained soil and also in damp areas in full sun or light shade. Snake's head Fritillaria can be planted in exposed or sheltered areas it is very tolerant of conditions and is spring flowering.
Although it will grow in drier areas, and is sometimes seen planted in wild meadow areas, it is happiest in cooler areas with some shade.
Plant bulbs about 3/4 times their own depth and they are best planted in the Autumn.
The Fritillaria Imperialis, known as Crown Imperial is quite different. Whereas F. melegaris grows to around 30cms (12") the Imperialis grows up to 1.5m (5')Imperialis will not tolerate damp conditions, it likes drier growing conditions with well drained soil. It is a robust plant with large showy flowers. It is a statuesque plant which makes a bold statement.
Also best planted in September/October, the Crown Imperial will flower in spring flowering colours are yellow red and orange. It is easy to grow and requires no real maintenance.
As members of the Lily family they can be prone to Lily beetle attack.