Swamp Lily – Crinum Asiaticum


I had a 4 foot lily this summer, healthy and deep green suddenly it went yellowish and started wither up. I just pulled it from it’s pot and cut it back to about 8 inches. I’m going to let it soak over night and replant it in new dirt tomorrow. Any idea what happened and do you think it will survive. Thanks, John


Crinum asiaticum, commonly called Poison bulb, Swamp lily, Spider lily, Mangrove lily, St. John’s lily and Giant or Grand Crinum lily is a member of the Amaryllis family of bulbs and should therefore be treated as “very tender” in our Canadian climate.

It is native to Indian Ocean Islands, Australia, East Asia and some Pacific Islands.  It is hardy to US hardiness zones 9-11 so therefore should be treated as tropical.  This is a plant that grows best in full sun when planted in moist but well draining soil that is rich in organic matter.  It’s only real issues in the garden are with snails & slugs and sometimes the leaves will suffer from leaf scorch if the sun is intense.

This is a plant that is poisonous so be careful and do not ingest any of its parts – leaves, flowers or bulb.  The bulb is particularly toxic but even plant sap can cause skin irritation so be extra cautious when handling.

All the above being said, I am attaching a link that you may find very useful if you want to read further, see link below.  I think you should read Option “C” under the heading Culture, in order to solve your problem.  Your plant may have become affected by the cold and thus has dropped its leaves.  Re potting it and placing it in a light filled location for the winter should see it through till late spring when you’ll be able to replant it outside into a full sun location for the summer.

Crinum asiaticum – Plant Finder (missouribotanicalgarden.org)

Hope this helps.

December 2, 2020