Plant crown imperial lilies, or fritillaria, as specimen plants for their unusual appearance or scatter them throughout the landscape for distinctive interest in full-sun or lightly-shaded spots. The "Imperialis" variety produces red to reddish-orange flowers that hang below a tuft of sword-shaped leaves atop a single stem up to 4 feet tall. The plant emits a musky odor. It prefers moderate conditions and thrives in warmer zones. In colder regions, dig bulbs and overwinter indoors.
Choose "Rubra" for the most true-red flowers of all the crown imperial types. Its stems reach 32 inches to 40 inches tall with vivid red blooms. The plant is vigorous and each bulb should be allowed at least a square foot in which to grow. Plant it alone or with other tall bulbs, such as tulips, or along the back sides of borders.
Plant "Prolifera" for stems of bright orange-red blossoms suspended under canopies of extra thick top-foliage. Named for this particular leaf growth, Prolifera sends out stems of 32 inches to 40 inches tall, each topped by a double-whorl or set of dark green leaves, under which blooms appear in mid-spring..
For large, bright blooms along with colorful, variegated foliage, choose "Aureomarginata." This variety produces 36-inch stems topped with green tufts of leaves edged in gold. Beneath the leafy tops, the plant’s orange-red blooms emerge in mid-spring, producing a striking color combination. Plant this variety as a stand-alone specimen, or in groups, spaced about 12 inches apart.
Select the cultivar "Aurora" for vigorous growth. This variety produces blooms of deep orange-red on stems of 24 inches to 36 inches tall. Within two or three growing seasons, Aurora develops mature bulblets on the roots of the parent plant. Separate these carefully by gently pulling up the plant following the blooming period. Replace the parent plant in the ground, making certain to re-cover its roots. Save the bulblets for fall planting.