Common name: Crown Imperial

Scientific name: Fritillaria

Type: Bulb

Height: 36-40 inches

Width: 8-12 inches

Blooms: Mid spring

Where to plant: Full sun, Partial Shade

Water requirement: Average

Preparing the soil: Needs well-drained location

Hardy: Zones 4 (up to 7,000 feet)

This is a striking, spring flowering bulb that is planted now in the fall for flowers next spring. Strong stems emerge from the bulbs and are topped by large, hanging bell-shaped flowers that are crowned by a whirl of leaves resembling a crown, hence its name "Crown Imperial." Growing to a height of 3-4 feet, this is a focal point, show-stopper, conversation piece in the spring garden. As if the spectacular flowers weren't enough reason to grow them, the bulb also emits a skunky or musky smell that deters rodents like voles and moles from entering the garden, even when not in bloom. Creating a perimeter planting has been known to discourage rodents from digging into the yard. Plant bulbs in fall, about 10 inches deep in well-drained or fast-draining soil. Place the bulb on its side, which will help keep it from rotting. Best growth in full sun or with some afternoon shade. Foliage dies back in summer and bulb goes dormant until spring. Deer resistant. red (Fritillaria rubra) or yellow (Fritillaria lutea) flowered varieties available.

Julie McIntyre, Summerland Gardens