Perfumed Fairy Lily – Chlidanthus fragrans

Deliciously scented, funnel-shaped flowers of bright yellow make this a valuable plant to grow as a house plant. It also provides abundant colour in pots on the patio.

Chlidanthus fragrans originated in South America and is the only species of this genus.

The flowers are 8cm (3in) long and tube-shaped, with flaring, petal-like lobes. They grow on stems 15-25cm (6-10in) in length, before the 30cm (12in) long, strap-like leaves appear.

In warmer areas Perfumed Fairy Lily can be grown outdoors but needs protection from frost in winter. Alternatively, bulbs should be lifted and stored in a cool place during the winter.

Varieties

C. ehrenbergii is very similar to C. fragrans but slightly taller.

DisplayPerfumed Fairy Lily - Chlidanthus fragrans

To create a bright splash of colour, plant five to nine bulbs together in a decorative bowl and display in a sunny window or at the centre of a coffee table where the scent can be readily enjoyed. They would also look very effective placed in a fireplace in summer.

Through The Year

March—April

Plant the bulbs with the tops just exposed. Place in a bright position. Give little water at first.

May

Increase the amount of water as plants develop but water moderately. Later, start to feed.

June—September

Plants will flower in June and July, then the leaves will appear.

October—February

Lift plants outside in danger from frost and place these and indoor plants in a cool spot. Do not water.

Propagation

New plants can be produced by using the offsets that are freely produced by the mother plant. Carefully remove these when repotting the bulbs in spring, and plant in a well-draining soil-based compost with added leaf-mould and sharp sand. It will take 3-4 years before plants produce flowers.

Plant Problems

Leaves yellow. This is due to overwatering.

Treatment: Water sparingly at first, then moderately as plants grow.

Plants don’t flower. The position may not be light enough, the plant may have been stored in too warm a place or watered during the rest period, or the bulbs may not have had enough food in the previous year.

Prevention: Take measures to avoid these causes.

PLANT CARE

This is a not a difficult plant to grow, but it needs the brightest possible position to flower.

  • Potting: Use a well-drained, soil-based potting mixture with leaf-mould and some coarse sand, and put a good layer of drainage material in the bottom of the pot. Repot indoor plants in March or April.
  • From April throughout the summer water moderately, allowing some drying out between applications. In winter keep dry.
  • Feeding: Feed every two weeks in the growing season with a standard liquid fertilizer.

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • Light: The plant likes the brightest possible position. Stand in a south-facing window or keep in a conservatory or sunroom until buds appear, then move if required.
  • Temperature: This plant needs storing in a cool place in winter but don’t let the temperature fall below 5°-10°C (40°— 50°F).

The yellow, fragrant flowers of Perfumed Fairy Lily appear in June and July. Bulbs can be grown outdoors in warmer areas or planted in spring to flower indoors.

When to buy

  • Perfumed Fairy Lily is available in spring from garden centres and nurseries. It you cannot find it locally, try specialist bulb growers.
  • Choose bulbs that are firm to the touch. Avoid any that feel soft or are damaged.
  • Given the right conditions, this plant will live for several years.

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