Worth the Lift?


Finally blooming is the giant crinum bulb I bought at the Chicago Flower show.  (Apologies for the about-to-bloom Casa Blanca lilies leaning into it.  It’s too hot to stake.)

The bulb is giant–so big that they looked at it suspiciously at the Chicago Art Institute when I stopped there after the Flower Show.  Then they invoked some obscure rule involving foodstuffs and agricultural goods, and wouldn’t allow me to check it in the coatroom. I failed to see how actually lugging a 15 pound bulb through the museum, where it’s oniony fumes might discolor some varnish on the masterpieces, was actually preferable.

The bulb is so big that the only pot it fit into was my one fiberglass pot, an Italian pot I bought for a canna corm that grew to the size of an elephant’s paw.

Since I started the crinum going in the house in March, it was quite a job lugging it into the garden.  I had to enlist the husband, something I try to avoid at all costs, given his extreme lack of interest in the garden and the resulting difficulty of pinning him down for 45 seconds of labor.

I like the strap-like leaves, but the spidery maroon and white blooms?  I’m a little disappointed.


I found this photo from the Flower Show. If you look at the poster leaning against the stack of crinum bulbs to the left, you’ll see that my crinum is not as advertised: The blooms on the poster are more lily-like and more purple.  More what I had in mind.

In my household, It’s very Darwinian for houseplants.  They only survive if I can eat something off them, or find their flowers exceptionally pretty.  We’ll see if the crinum gets lugged in or composted, come October.


  1. I’m with you on the Darwinian Garden. There is a certain “proven winners” Sambucus ‘Black Lace” that has sorely disappointed in my steamy Atlanta garden. After 2 years of loving care and careful siting, it has muddy, greenish color and spindly growth. Not worth the real estate it is taking up. A nice Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky” will be it’s replacement come fall.

  2. Advertise it around to your neighbors and gardening pals. “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure”. You never know what you might get in return.

  3. Oh, please don’t let your crinum die….the color you have is actually one of the more expensive ones!!! They are an old southern staple down here in NC, I have a clump that is 3′ in diameter. Save it!!!!

  4. If you’re willing to lug potted crinums in and out (I recommend investing in a good dolly to save your back) then go for the best. Jenks Farmer has a crinum nursery, considers himself a crinophile and carries my preferred variety (partly because of its color and partly because of its fragrance) called Ellen Bosanquet.


    And he’s a stitch as a speaker. Also he used to be the hort/designer for the Riverbanks Zoo and Arboretum in Columbia, SC, which is always worth a visit. But perhaps not in summer 🙂

  5. Michele; Just another confirmation of my belief that the pictures on the tags of daylilies and other lilies are the absolute worst representations of what we’ll actually get. I’ve bought so many daylilies based on tags and been disappointed that you’d think I’d know better.

    To Mr. Hyman; I now hate you for posting that link to Ellen Bosanquet and blowing my fall bulb budget to smithereens.

  6. It’s a spider lily, native to Florida. It’s not a day lily and would never look like that picture from the flower show. It’s great flower, with a heavy perfume…..

  7. I would like to second the recommendation for Jenks and his Lushlife Nurseries. Jenks is a wonderful gardener and designer and a expert on crinums to boot. He’s not going to sell you a crappy specimen that’s going to disappoint. He’s going to give you the best of the best, grown with loving tender care at his farm in Beech Island, SC.

  8. I love the line about pinning the husband down for 45 seconds of labor. So like my ex! He never learned to differentiate weeds from desirable plants so he thus wasn’t “able” to help with the weeding. The only thing he did was mow a 20’x10′ patch of grass

  9. I only muscle my husband into helping if I need something built. He mows and I take care of the rest. It works for us, especially since he doesn’t expect me to work INSIDE the house. 🙂

    He surprised me yesterday, though, by voluntarily weeding — even if it was around his hops instead of my veggies. I did have to force him to use a bucket instead of just leaving the weeds on the lawn, but improvement is improvement!

  10. I bet you can find a family member or friend that hasn’t seen this rant and pawn oops I mean lovingly give this bulb away.

  11. @ Jennifer Petritz, thanks you just saved me $15 or so, I been hankering for Sambucus ‘Black Lace’ and in my heart of hearts I knew it might melt or otherwise get too funky in my steam bath over here in Alabama not far down the road from you there in Hot-Lanta….

    @everybody else, nice comments, I learn as much and more sometimes from the comments as I do the articles though I like them too of course….I got an ‘Ellen Bosanquet’, a ‘Sangria’ and a ‘Milk and Wine’….love them all though still waiting on the Sangria to bloom though I love the foliage while I’m waiting……These things seem to thrive on heat or at least I think so or maybe the heat is just getting to me…….:-)

Comments are closed.