Growing Checkered Lily


Join Yolanda Vanveen as she shows you how to grow the checkered lily, Fritillaria meleagris. Fritillaria meleagris is a species of flowering plant in the family Liliaceae. Its common names include snake’s head fritillary, snake’s head (the original English name), chess flower, frog-cup, guinea-hen flower, leper lily (because its shape resembled the bell once carried by lepers), Lazarus bell, checkered lily or, in northern Europe, simply fritillary.


The name Fritillaria comes from the latin fritillus meaning dice-box, and (possibly) referring to the chequered pattern on the flowers. The name meleagris means ‘spotted like a guinea fowl.The common name “snake’s head” refers to the somewhat snakelike appearance of the green and brown nodding flower heads.


The flower has a chequered pattern in shades of green and purple, or is sometimes pure white. It flowers from April to May and grows between 15–40 cm (6–16 in) in height. The plant has a button-shaped bulb, about 2 cm in diameter, containing poisonous alkaloids. It grows in grasslands in damp soils and river meadows at altitudes up to 800 m (2,625 ft). The flowers are pollinated by bees.  They are suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Checkered Lilies grow best in climate zones 3-8 and prefer climates with moisture.  They are suitable for growing in a damp meadow or open woodland, and are great for naturalizing in a lawn. Fritillaria meleagris prefers moist soil in full sun to light shade, and cool, damp summers. The best time to plant the bulbs is in the autumn but they can be divided anytime they are not in bloom and replanted.  They are a small bulb but make sure and plant them at least three inches deep so they do not dry out too much.  Water them in the summer and autumn even when they are dormant.


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Hi this is Yolanda Vanveen and we’re learning all about spring blooming flowers. Now one of the most exotic looking flowers in my garden in the spring is my checkered lily. It’s a kind of fritillaria. Come take a look.

Now checkered lilies are called checkered lilies because the flowers have little checkers all over them and if you look real closely it looks just like a checkerboard and I just think they’re fascinating. They’re like a tulip but instead of pointing up, they kind of hang down, they’re pendulous. They are just a small little flower bulb.

When you plant them I like to plant them like a Hershey’s Kiss candy there is a point side and a root side and you plant them about three inches deep and you want to plant them in groups of three or more in a triangle they will multiply real well and you want them to look good the first year. You want to make sure and plant them any time of the year. They are usually sold in the fall.

If you transplant them when they are blooming always be careful and plant them right back again. You don’t want to lose the blooms. They are one of my favorite spring blooming flowers. They are just a really nice addition to my garden. They do great in the shade or even in the sun because they bloom in the spring. I always like to mix them with summer blooming flowers as well so that you can enjoy color in that area through the summer. They are a great addition to your garden.

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Fritillaria meleagris is a fritillary in the family Liliaceae. Its common names include Snake’s Head FritillarySnake’s Head (the original English name), Checkered DaffodilChess FlowerFrog-cupGuinea-hen FlowerLeper Lily (because its shape resembled the bell once carried by lepers), Frog-cup, Lazarus bellCheckered Lily or, in northern Europe, simply Fritillary.

Checkered Lilies flower from March to May . The grow from a flower bulb that contains poisonous alkaloids. It is commonly found growing in grasslands in damp soils and river meadows and can be found at higher altitudes.

They do best in climates with mild seasons and with elevation.  They are a perennial in zones 4-8.  They will grow in full sun or part shade and do well under trees.



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