Crinums are a large family, belonging to the amaryllidaceae group so having some botanical connection to the likes of belladonnas and nerines. But despite there being over 130 different crinum species, not a lot make good garden subjects in this country. Sometimes you will see different crinums being grown in the tropics but the common form in this country is C. moorei which is a South African plant. It has big strappy green leaves, largely evergreen so it can get a bit scruffy, and big, strong spikes of scented flowers in shades of pink. It is a very easy plant, tolerant of woodland shade and near total neglect.
This is a variegated form and rather more desirable. It is deciduous which solves the scruffy problems. When the fresh growth comes in mid spring, it lights up a dark area with its bold pale gold and green striping. By mid summer, the variegation has toned down considerably to green which gives a splendid foil for the lovely tall spires of predominantly white scented blooms. These are around 150cm high but so strong, they don’t need staking. They are a wonderful late summer accent plant for shade gardens. The bulbs can reach extremely large proportions and are relatively slow to increase. As with a number of the amaryllis family, the bulbs sit half in the ground with necks exposed. We have never seen this variegated form set seed though the usual green moorei can be grown easily from fresh seed. We have to wait for our plants to form offsets on the bulbs in order to increase them, though enthusiasts could increase them by twin scaling.
First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.