Chlidanthus fragrans [klid-an-thuss, FRAY-granz] is an exotic bulbous species from the Amaryllidaceae family and close relative of the daffodil.
It’s native to South America, specifically in Peru and the Andes.
The genus name means “delicate flower” while the species name references the strong citrus scent of the flowers.
The combination of this has earned the plant the common name “perfumed fairy lily.”
Other than its botanical name you may hear it called by its common names including:
- Delicate lily
- Peruvian daffodil – Ismene calathina also goes by the common name.
Chlidanthus Fragrans Care
Size & Growth
When grown in rich and moist soil in a sunny location, delicate lilies are easy to grow.
The stalks can reach a height anywhere between 3” – 20” inches with a tight 3” inch spread.
Narrow and leafless stems appear in early spring, decorated with clusters of large yellow flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
The sweet and deliciously fragrant flowers of the Peruvian lily smell great grown indoors as a house plant.
They also provide color to patios when planted in pots.
Each C. fragrans flower is 3” – 4” inches long and tube-shaped.
In early to late spring, clusters consisting of 3 to 4 funnel-shaped flowers appear on terminal stalks.
The yellow flowers are citrus-scented.
Light & Temperature
C. fragrans plants are hardy to hardiness USDA Zones 9-11.
They are half-hardy to frost and prefer temperatures of cooler regions.
In winter, the plant needs to be stored indoors; it doesn’t tolerate temperatures below 40° – 50° degrees Fahrenheit (4° – 10° C).
As for light needs, the plant prefers full sun and a brighter the location, the better.
Watering and Feeding
These plants prefer moisture but will not tolerate too much water.
When the bulbs are new, water sparingly, keeping the soil sufficiently moist.
As the weather starts to get hotter and drier, increase the amount of water, enough to moisten the soil.
Be careful about giving the plants too much water as it may lead to premature yellowing of the leaves.
Also, stop watering the plants once winter arrives.
Feed the plant every two weeks during the growing season with a standard liquid fertilizer.
Soil & Transplanting
Delicate lilies favor rich soil, which is moisture retentive but has good drainage.
It tolerates slightly acidic and neutral soils but does the best in neutral soil pH.
A humus-rich, well-drained, loamy soil with a neutral pH is the way to go when growing this plant.
As for transplanting, it is not required.
However, you may repot bulbs into individual containers or in flower beds to multiply the plant.
Grooming and Maintenance
Even though it may take its time before producing its blooms, the plant is relatively easy to grow and maintain when planted in a location getting plenty of summer sun.
Since they don’t have bushy foliage, they don’t require any pruning.
From early spring to early summer, you just need to gradually increase the amount of water as new plants develop, avoiding overwatering them.
The growing season starts in late spring; this is when you should feed the plant.
When the weather starts to get colder in the fall, don’t water the plants and bring them indoors to keep them frost-free.
How to Propagate Perfumed Fairy Lily Plants
This delicate lily plant is propagated with seeds and by dividing the offsets.
New plants are grown from the offsets produced by the parent plant.
- Remove the offsets carefully in spring and place them about 3” inches apart or in individual pots.
- Divide the bulbs during the plant’s dormant period in the winter.
- Dig a hole of the same depth as the height of the bulb and space them 3” apart.
Plants propagated by this method may take up to 3 years to reach maturity.
Propagation with seeds is pretty self-explanatory.
- Start by sowing the seeds as soon as they ripen.
- Dig a very small hole about 2 to 4 mm and place one seed in each hole.
- Space the seeds 3” – 4” inches apart and cover the hole.
Plants propagated with seeds may take up to 5 years to mature.
Delicate Lily Pest or Diseases
The Peruvian daffodil is typically free from most pest and disease problems.
However, slug and snail attacks might be an occasional problem.
Visit your local gardening center or nursery to find solutions.
Peruvian Daffodil Uses
The exotic Peruvian bright yellow flowers of the Chlidanthus plants are great for adding a tropical element to your garden.
They are best displayed in sunny locations during bright summers.
Enjoy the heady fragrance of the flowers when planted in containers as a patio centerpiece.
Similarly, add 5-9 bulbs in a pot and place them near a window getting plenty of sunlight in the day.
Plant these shy bloomers along garden borders or flower beds with other flowering plants such as peony, tulips, etc.