The imperial fritillary or crown imperial (Fritillary imperialis) is blooming in gardens in northwest Ohio now. The plant comes in various shades of yellows, oranges and reds. The pendulous flowers are about 2" long and are found clustered at the terminal end of stout and leafless stem that towers above the leaves below. Above the flowers are a sheaf of smaller leaves that form a tuft of green as shown in the photo below.
The flowers can have a slight skunk odor so sniff accordingly. The spring bloomers add a unique look to the garden among other spring flowering bulbs. This plant prefers shade to partial shade and a moist and rich soil. If your might be lacking those ideal soil conditions, it is suggested to mix in well-decayed organic matter at the time of planting the bulbs.
In the fall, bulbs should be planted approximately 6" depth and spaces between 8" to 12" apart. Once planted the bulbs can be enjoyed for 5 or more years. As the bulb matures and produces offsets, those can be lift and planted in other areas of the garden.
An occasional leaf spot can be a minor issue, along with rust. If you have the ideal conditions and are not currently enjoying the fritillarias, you may want to add it to the list to plant in the fall for enjoyment next spring.