This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
The various species of Crinum belong to the most important, the most beautiful and the most popular of Florida garden plants. No plants grow so easily, with so little attention, and no plants are so floriferous and so deliciously fragrant. Some of the species, as C. zeylanicum, C. erubescens and C. Sanderianum, are so common in gardens, that they are little appreciated by people in general. Planted together in masses or in borders and in front of shrubbery, they look extremely beautiful. They grow best in rich, somewhat moist soil, but they are also perfectly at home in the high pineland ridges when well fertilized and cultivated. There is great confusion in the nomenclature of these plants, scarcely half a dozen being correctly named in the various catalogues. The following notes are based on many years' experience with crinums in Florida, and the names represent plants that the author considers to be proper representatives of the species.
C. abyssinicum has white flowers and is attractive, but it does not grow well in the sandy soils of Florida.
Very much like C. augustum in growth and the flowers also much the same, but it is considerably smaller and multiplies rapidly by offsets. Every three or four years it must be replanted in fresh rich ground, and the offsets must then be removed. It is a very beautiful plant, and much more floriferus than the C. augustum, flowering in every month of the year. The perfume of the masses of flowers in spring and summer is so strong that it pervades the entire garden. It does not bear seeds in Florida, but the pollen is fertile and can be used in cross-breeding.
Common along muddy banks of lakes and rivers. A very beautiful pure white, intensely fragrant species and very valuable in hybridizing work. Flower-stem usually 3 feet high, bearing mostly four flowers. Grows well in gardens, particularly in rich moist soil.
A rather small-growing Asiatic species with long slender bulbs and white flowers tinged red on the outside. Rare.
The columnar stem-like bulb, about 12 to 15 inches long, grows mostly above the ground. In planting it should never be set deep in the ground; a few inches is sufficient. The leaves are arranged in a rosette. They are about 3 feet long, very broad near the bulb, gradually narrowing to a sharp point at the end. The color is light bluish green. Flowers almost all the year round, even in winter when the weather is warm, usually 20 flowers in an umbel being borne always a little above the foliage on a strong stem. The flowers are pure white, with linear narrow segments; filaments and stigma purplish red, yellowish white in the lower third. Strangely and deliciously fragrant. A real gem among our garden flowers. Hardy all over the Gulf Coast region, where it forms in time large and impressive clumps of tropical foliage. Bears large pea-green fleshy seeds abundantly. Excellent for raising hybrids.
"Great Mogul" of Barbados. The largest-growing of all our crinums, specimens 4 feet high and 6 to 8 feet in diameter being not uncommon. It needs rich moist soil and a fair amount of good fertilizer. Leaves are very broad, 4 to 5 feet long, narrowing gradually to a sharp point, deeply channeled. It blooms continually for months. Flower-stem an inch in diameter, purplish-red, 4 feet high, bearing a large umbel of glossy purplish crimson flower-buds which are pink inside after opening. Nearly twenty flowers to each umbel, giving a large mass of very beautiful and deliciously fragrant blossoms. This umbel is so large and heavy that it soon bends over and finally lies on the ground. For this reason, it is necessary to tie it to a strong bamboo stake. It is difficult to propagate, as offsets are formed slowly. A plant five years old has formed only two side-shoots. Although it affords good pollen for hybridizing purposes, it does not seed. Hardy in New Orleans.
Very distinct, with beautiful glaucous green leaves and umbels of six to eight rosy red cam-panulate flowers. The flowers are much recurved at their edges. It blooms several times each year. One plant, although eighteen years old, never made a side-shoot. It grows wild in ponds in southern Africa and very likely needs moist soil.
C. Careyanum (offered in the trade as C. virgineum which is really a white-flowering species from Brazil). It also goes under the name of C. grandum. This is a doubtful plant, being perhaps an old English hybrid. It is very distinct from all other crinums, very beautiful and deliciously fragrant and a night-bloomer. Flower-stem 3 feet high, with an umbel of six to eight pure white flowers with a faint red band in the center. The buds are reddish and the stem is purplish grayish green. Bears no seed.