Crinum latifolium [KRY-num, lat-ee-FOH-lee-um] is a member of the family Amaryllidaceae – Amaryllis and genus Crinum hails from subtropical or Mediterranean climates where they flourish and bloom year-round.
These large, showy plants do best in warm climates with plenty of humidity.
When originally brought to North America, they were prized additions to southern plantation gardens.
In areas in the southern United States, quite a few escaped cultivation and ran rampant in bogs and swamps.
For this reason, Crinum lilies are often called southern swamp Lily.
Other common names include:
- Cape Lily
- Spider Lily
- Crinum Lily
- Swamp Lily
- Pink Stripes
- Trumpet Lily
- Cemetery Plant
The reason for the latter is this a set-it-and-forget-it sort of plant one might wish to use as permanent adornment on a gravesite.
Cape Lily may be considered a perennial evergreen or semi-deciduous plant depending upon the hardiness zone where it is planted.
Crinum latifolium Care
Size & Growth
Under optimum conditions, Spider Lily has a moderately quick growth rate and attains a height and spread of 3’ – 5’ feet.
Crinum Lily spreads in large clumps and needs lots of room to grow.
Place plants 4’ – 6’ feet apart in the garden.
Trumpet Lily foliage is coarse and grows in an open, spiral arrangement.
Crinum latifolium wide leaves are linear and grow to a length of more than 3’ feet.
Leaves are typically green, but some varieties have maroon-colored leaves.
Flowering & Fragrance
Flowers grow on tall, stiff, strong spikes.
The blossoms of the more common types of Crinum look something like Easter lilies.
Flowers range in shape from spidery to bell-shaped.
Colors may vary from purest white to deep red arranged in umbels.
There are also a number of bi-colored, striped varieties.
In hardiness zones ten through eleven, the fragrant blossoms appear all year round.
In colder zones, Crinum provides continuous blooming throughout all warm months.
Blooms are most abundant late in the summertime and provide a rampant array of visual and olfactory enjoyment.
If your Swamp Lily does not bloom well in the first couple of years, don’t despair.
It can take some time for them to settle in.
Light & Temperature
Trumpet Lily grows well in partial shade to full sun and can tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions.
This herbaceous perennial is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11, but it will return year after year in climates down to zone 7.
In areas with cold winters, it tends to die back in the winter and then return in the spring.
Watering & Feeding
Cemetery Plant can flourish on extravagant neglect.
The plants’ favorite condition involves warm, humid air and consistently moist, loamy soil; however, it can adapt to all sorts of conditions.
These plants are even resistant to adverse conditions such as extended flooding, yet they are also moderately drought tolerant.
Fertilizer is unnecessary.
Soil & Transplanting
While a wide variety of soils are tolerated, keep in mind the soil should be well-draining and able to retain a consistent level of slight moisture.
As with all plants, well-draining moist soil is preferred.
Even though Spider Lily likes consistent moisture, the plants should not sit in water on a regular, ongoing basis.
When growing Cape Lily from bulbs, plant the bulbs in filtered light or the full sun setting early in the springtime.
Remember these are water-loving plants, so amend the soil with loam and/or and a few water retention pellets to keep the bulbs happy.
Grooming & Maintenance
Grooming and maintenance is simple and involves removing spent blooms and dead leaves.
You will want to divide the plant when it becomes crowded and congested.
This is best accomplished during the winter months.
Always remove the lower leaves as they begin to fail as rotting vegetation around the plants’ feet is sure to cause fungus problems and harbor slugs and snails.
How To Propagate Cape Lily
It’s best to grow Crinum from bulbs, but it’s possible to find potted plants in nurseries.
It is also possible to plant from seed, or take offsets from established bulbs.
Crinum Lily bulbs are among some of the largest of true bulbs.
They can weigh more than 40 pounds.
To propagate these plants, divide the bulbs in the wintertime when the plant is not actively growing.
Just lift a large clump from the ground and remove offshoot bulbs.
Plant these in their containers or locations.
Spider Lily Pest or Disease Problems
This hardy, mostly trouble-free plant is not subject to many diseases.
As with most plants, deficient sunlight, air circulation and/or drainage can cause problems with leaf spot and other fungal diseases.
Crinum may occasionally be plagued by caterpillars, slugs, snails or grasshoppers.
Is Crinum Lily Toxic Or Poisonous?
All parts of Cemetery Plant are toxic and may cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain if ingested.
Is Crinum Invasive?
Although these lilies do reproduce by creating offsets and have escaped captivity in the southern United States, they are not known to be invasive.
Suggested Uses For Swamp Lily
C. latifolium is a good choice for gardens in dry, hot locations and also in warm, humid locations.
It tolerates a wide variety of weather and soil conditions.
Trumpet Lily is a good choice as a low-growing divider hedge.
Plant it around your patio to enjoy the fragrance of the flowers.
When planting, remember to put individual plants 4’ – 6’ feet apart to allow for growth and spread.
Crinum Lily planted in containers become problematic due to the ultimate size of the bulb and the fact these plants like to spread and ramble.
You’ll often see Vietnamese Crinum Latifolium Extract and China, or Chinese medicine, and folk medicines used to treat health problems such as prostate health.
Largely harvested for their bioactive alkaloids in the health care and traditional medicine industry and Chinese traditional medicine water extracts.
Aqueous extracts of Crinum latifolium and its other forms have been used without side effects.
Its use in Traditional Chinese medicine is often for allergy-related issues and the presence of Amaryllidaceae alkaloids in the plant is what helps fight allergy issues.