Majestic tall lilies, which provide a bold exotic effect to any lightly shaded border or woodland area.

Family: Liliaceae
Botanical Name: Cardiocrinum
Common Names: Giant Lily, Himalayan Lily

Foliage: Dark green, shiny, heart-shaped leaves. Deciduous (dies back after flowering).

Flowers: Large creamy-white trumpet-shaped flowers, marked with purple.

Flowering Period: June-August.

Soil: Deep rich, moist but well drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Light shade. Plant in a north, south, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Upright, tall.

Type: Bulbous perennial.

Origin: Himalayas, China, the Russian Far East and Japan.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Cardiocrinum

Plant in moisture-retentive, deep, humus-rich fertile soil. Best in light shade. Avoid waterlogged conditions. Shelter from strong winds and protect from severe frost and excessive summer heat.

They thrive in at the edge of woodland but can be planted among low growing shrubs, where sufficient shelter and shade is provided.

Plant in October at a depth of 6in (15cm), spacing 3ft (90cm).

Taking Care of Cardiocrinum

Don't be disheartened if Cardiocrinum fails to flower in the second year. The species is monocarpic, which means the main bulb dies after flowering, however any offsets should grow-on again to bloom three to five years later.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to slug damage. Can be affected by a virus.

Propagating Cardiocrinum

The bulb dies after flowering and its offsets can take several years to flower, therefore it is best to buy new bulbs each year if you want a regular show.

They can also be increased from seed sown in deep pans with a little bottom heat. Although seedlings can take up to seven years to reach flowering size.

Varieties of Cardiocrinum

Bulbs are usually available for sale in late autumn.

Cardiocrinum giganteum is an impressive giant of a plant reaching 6-10ft (2-3m) tall, topped with a crown of fragrant white lily-like flowers, in June/July. The 6in (15cm) long creamy-white flowers are streaked with purplish markings on the inside. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Cardiocrinum cordatum is shorter form bearing large fragrant, trumpet-shaped creamy-white flowers, marked with purple. Height to 6ft (2m). Variety 'glehnii' is shorter again, reaching only 3ft (1.2m) or so in height. Available from Edrom Nurseries.