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Fritillaria meleagris
  • RHS AGM

snake's head fritillary

F. meleagris is a bulbous perennial to 30cm in height, with lance-shaped, greyish-green leaves and 1-2 nodding, bell-shaped purple flowers, the tepals tessellated with pale pink in a checkerboard fashion. Widely naturalised in Britain, but probably not a true native

Other common names
chequered daffodil
chequered lily
see moredrooping tulip
guinea flower
guinea-hen flower
leper lily
snake heads

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Size
Ultimate height
0.1–0.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
0–0.1 metre
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Pink Purple
Summer
Autumn
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H5
Botanical details
Family
Liliaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Columnar upright
Genus

Fritillaria are bulbous herbaceous perennials with lance-shaped or linear leaves and nodding bell-shaped or bowl-shaped flowers that may be solitary or in racemes or umbels

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe to W Siberia

How to grow

Cultivation

Grows well in most fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soils and prefers cool, moist summers. Handle the fragile bulbs carefully and plant at four times own depth. Suitable for rock garden, raised bed or naturalising in grass

Propagation

Propagate by seed, sown in pots in a cold frame in autumn. Needs exposure to winter cold for germination in spring. Division of offsets can be done in late summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Rock garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Prone to slugs and lily beetle

Diseases

Generally disease free

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