Cardiocrinum giganteum (Liliaceae), known as the giant Himalayan
lily or just giant lily occurs in the Himalayas and may reach a height
of two-three metres with almost 20 cm long fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers
and large heart shaped leaves. In Denmark, Cardiocrinum flowers
for up to two weeks in July depending on the numbers of flowers. The
middle flowers of the raceme open first. The buds have an upright position
in the raceme while the flowers in the beginning are oriented perpendicular
to the axis but later on become hanging. After flowering the fruit stalk
increases in length and bend upwards to a position similar to that of
the buds. The bulb consists of just a few highly succulent bulb scales.
It may obtain a diameter of about 20 cm. The genus has up to five species
depending on, if some of the species are considered belonging to the
genus Lilium or not.
Cardiocrinum does not tolerate standing water around the bulb
or the roots. Therefore, best results are obtained in a well drained
but moisture preserving and nutrient rich soil. The plant should also
be protected against strong winds and full sun to avoid sun burning
of the large leaves. Place the bulb with the top just below the soil
surface and protect it against hard frost during winter. If the soil
is not suitable, dig a hole 1½ spits deep and similar in width.
Mix the top-soil with compost or leaf mould and either a little sand,
leca or crumbled bark for drainage. Cardiocrinum is a nutrient
demanding plant and adding natural manure or ordinary lawn fertilizer
in the spring will pay off. Distance between the bulbs should be about
Garden snails eat the young growing leaves and small holes will turn
into large holes when the leaves are mature. Snails can be kept away
from the young leaves with a ring of garlic-paste around the base of
the plant. It may also be effective to water around the plant with garlic-water.
The lily-beetle (Lilioceris lilii) sometimes attacks Cardiocrinum
but seems to prefer the narrow leaved lilies if such are in the neighbourhood.
In Denmark the beetles appear in early April, i.e. before the first
leave of Cardiocrinum begins to unfold. Although, the shiny red
beetle is beautiful the lily beetle should be controlled manually. Insecticide
like pyrethrum is said to be effective but is not recommended here.
Water voles will eat the bulbs and if you have water voles in the garden
it is probably not worth to try growing Cardiocrinum.
The main bulb will die after flowering but before dying, it will produce
accessory bulbs. These bulbs can be planted in the autumn or next spring
and they will flower within three to four years. If the late summer
is long and warm, the seeds may become ripe and be able to germinate.
However, a seed plant may take up to seven years before flowering. Cardiocrinum
is not particularly well suited for growing in pots if the purpose is
to see it in flower.
The giant lily is not always for sale but search the WEB for Cardiocrinum.
Depending on where you live, you may find both prices and a dealer near
your area. The price depends on the size of the bulb.
...............H. S. Heide-Jørgensen, 2004