Fritillaria Meleagris*



The Toronto Botanical Gardens referred me to you with new seeds I bought.

I am in Bailieboro, Ontario (Hardness zone: 5) and was hoping to find the best spot to plant my Fritillaria Meleagris seeds. I am in the country and was wondering if planting a grouping close to the house on the east side for part morning sun is good?

Is there anything that will help make them prosper and spread easily?

Thank you and I look forward to your reply!


The seeds you have purchased are actually small bulbs. Given the right conditions, Fritallaria meleagris will live long and naturalize well. It is my favourite of the small spring bulbs and I’ve been growing them for a number of years. They favour a dappled, light shade but will grow in full sun to part shade and do best when grown in soil with lots of organic material such as well composted manure.

They do need consistent moisture throughout their growing season and the foliage should be allowed to die back naturally after bloom to replenish the bulbs. Because of their small size, the bulbs can dry out so it’s best to purchase and plant Fritallaria meleagris as soon as bulbs come available in the garden centres each fall.

In my case, I have a very sandy soil which drains very quickly so I am not able to provide the constant moisture these plants prefer. I do get repeat bloom but limited spread. So I add some new bulbs, planting them in groups every few years.

The mottled, maroon colouring of Fritallaria meleagris has led to many interesting common names: checkered lily, snake’s head fritillary and guinea-hen flower. You’ll often get a pure white flower in the mix which is particularly beautiful. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.