Crinums are a trademark planting in old settlements throughout the South where they have been cultivated and swapped for years. They are tough as nails and thrive untended in cemeteries and abandoned home sites for years.
These bulbs are cousins of the amaryllis we grow in our home during winter, producing the same large blooms, but in greater abundance and they are planted in the garden. The plants produce trumpet or spider shaped blooms in pink, white or a striped version referred to as "milk and wine lilies." In addition to being a bold statement the flowers are fragrant.
Crinums are native to tropical Africa and Asia. They will thrive in both arid and wet conditions, but are more cold tolerant when planted in dry soil. They are pretty easy to care for and forgiving of neglect. Plant the bulbs in a spot that receives full sun. Work plenty of compost into the bed and keep the plants evenly moist. They will benefit greatly from an occasional feeding of organic, liquid fertilizer. If you have a lot of shade, try Crinum americanum, Crinum jagus, or Crinum moorei.
You’ll never have to divide your crinums unless you want more. Most bulbs weigh 1 -2 pounds but old bulbs can weigh more than 20 pounds, which makes digging established clumps a major undertaking. Replant divided bulbs immediately so they won’t dry out. It will take them about a year to settle in and several growing seasons before they start blooming well.
You can grow crinums on large pots or tubs. Use a humus rich soil mix with perlite or sand added for drainage. Bury the bulb leaving the top third of the neck above soil level. Fertilize the plants weekly from the time the flower buds form through flowering. After the foliage has dies back in fall, move the pot indoors to a cool, lighted area and water sparingly. When spring arrives, water enough to keep the soil moist at all times and move back outside as soon as the danger of frost is over.