Crinum asiaticum [KRY-num a-see-AT-ee-kum] is a tender perennial plant and member of the Amaryllidaceae family along with the other Crinum lily varieties.
Native to India’s Indian Ocean islands, China, tropical Asia, Australia, and Pacific islands.
Common names include:
- Asiatic Poison Lily
- Seashore Crinum
- Bawang Hutan
- Giant Crinum
- Seashore Lily
- Poison Bulb
- White Crinum
- Spider Lily
- Grand Crinum
- Giant Crinum
Some other Crinum species include:
- Crinum pedunculatum – Commonly known as swamp lily.
- Crinum procerum – Purple-burgundy leaves in a beautiful display.
Crinum Asiaticum Care
Size & Growth
Spider Lily can attain a height and breadth of 4′ – 6′ feet.
The leaves are evergreen and strap-shaped.
They grow to be about 4″ – 5″ inches long.
They grow in a dense basal clump which spreads with wild abandon under the right conditions.
Flowering & Fragrance
Crinum is a seasonal bloomer producing umbels of large showy, fragrant Lily-like blossoms.
The flowers are about 4″ inches wide and 4″ inches long.
The most active bloom time is summer through autumn, but in very warm locations they may bloom year-round.
The blooms are typically white flowers, but occasionally they’re found tinged or striped with shades of red or purple.
Individual flowers each have six petals and six long, prominent stamens sporting red filaments.
The flowers bloom in large clusters 4″ – 6″ inches long atop a tall, thick succulent stem rising about 6″ inches above the foliage.
Light & Temperature
White Crinum Lily does well planted in light shade to full sun. Too much sun can cause leaf scorch.
The bulbs can survive freezing temperatures, but freezing will kill off the foliage. It will grow back when spring arrives.
You must manage the plant differently depending upon your location.
In areas where it’s winter hardy, the bulbs can stay in the ground year-round. No special care is needed.
In areas where it’s on the cusp of winter hardiness, you must take care to plant it in a sheltered setting with southern exposure and mulch it heavily through the winter.
In areas where the plant is not winter hardy, it’s best to either use it as a container plant or dig the bulbs up and bring them indoors to be overwintered.
This plant is winter hardy in United States hardiness zones 10 through 11 (USDA Zone).
Watering & Feeding
Crinum can tolerate short periods of drought but still requires consistent watering.
Water and fertilize generously throughout the plants’ active growing season.
Reduce watering during the cooler months in areas where the plant continues to grow through the winter.
Withhold water during the winter in areas where the foliage dies back, and the bulbs go dormant.
Soil & Transplanting
This tropical plant appreciates fertile, organically rich, consistently moist soil with organic matter.
When keeping Crinum Lilies as potted plants, use containers only a couple of inches larger than the bulbs.
This plant grows well when kept pot bound.
When planting, do not bury the bulbs completely.
Instead, set them in the soil with the neck of the bulb exposed.
Be sure to bring potted plants indoors before the first frost and do not return them to the outdoor setting until after all danger of frost has passed.
Grooming & Maintenance
Deadhead blooms during the spring and summer if you wish to prevent unwanted spread.
Tidy up any dead foliage throughout the growing season.
Cut back foliage in advance of cold winter months.
In cold areas, mulch heavily during winter to protect the bulbs.
Other Crinums of Interest:
How To Propagate White Crinum Lily
Crinum form bulbils (tubers) at the base of the flower head.
These are not seeds, but plant them to grow new plants.
If left to its own devices, the bulbils grow heavy, causing the stem to topple to the ground.
Within a couple of weeks, the bulbil takes root and grows.
New plants may start with variegated leaves and then color up to solid green as they mature.
To propagate or share plants, wait until this process is well underway and then dig up and divide the new plants.
This is much easier than attempting to divide mature plants.
Crinum bulbs grow to be incredibly large.
The underground bulbs weigh between 10 – 25 pounds once matured.
Crinum Lily Pests or Disease Problems
This plant may be bothered by snails and grasshoppers chewing on the leaves.
The plant is also susceptible to anthracnose disease.
Is Crinum Toxic Or Poisonous?
All parts of Crinum Lilies are quite toxic, and you should take care to choose a planting location not accessible to children and pets.
The entire plant contains a variety of alkaloids like Lycorine and Tazettine.
When pruning or handling the plant, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves.
Wash up promptly when your task is complete.
Even though this plant is quite toxic, they’ve been used as medicinal plants in folk medicine where they’re native.
Those medicinal uses included a poultice of the heated and pounded fresh leaves to treat contusions, sprains, fractures, osteodynia, and rheumatism.
Are Crinum Lilies Invasive?
It’s winter hardy in subtropical areas worldwide, and it’s very popular as a garden plant.
Because of this it’s become naturalized in places far-flung from its native southeastern Asia.
Although the plant is not listed as invasive, it’s generously naturalized in subtropical areas of California, Louisiana, and Florida.
Oddly, it’s considered critically endangered in its native region of Singapore.
Suggested Uses for Spider Lily
Crinum Lily has many uses in the landscape. It’s especially well-suited for moist locations such as along the edges of ponds.
Makes a very good border plant or good mass planting in large open areas.
As container plants, they’re attractive and easy care, but you must keep in mind moving them from place-to-place may be a bit of a chore due to the very large size of the bulbs.