Crinum (Swamp lily, River lily, Veld lily)
is a genus of about 180 species of perennial flowering plants of the family Amaryllidaceae, occurring in America, Africa, southern Asia to Australia. Crinums occurs in a wide range of habitats from aquatic to desert. Each species is adapted to its specific habitat, and should be taken into account when considering having one in the garden. The genus name Crinum is derived from Greek word 'Krinon', meaning white lily, as most species in the genus have white or whitish flowers. Crinums work great on the banks of ponds and streams.
Crinum are perennial herbaceous plants with large, tunicated bulbs which produce a pseudostem or a neck made up of sheathing bases of old leaves. The linear to lanceolate leaves are arranged in a rosette or rarely in two opposite rows, sheathing at the base and often dying back in winter. In spring, the previous season's leaves grow out again with a few new leaves in the middle.
The inflorescences with one to many flowers are produced laterally on a long, solid peduncle, umbellate with two spathe valves. Crinums produce fragrant flowers that gently nod atop 1-1.5 m stalk, and come in a range of white, pink, red and dark red, depending on the species and variety. Many crinums have been known to grow for years on old home sites or cemeteries with little or no care.
Crinums grow well in partial shade to full sun, though they will grow just about anywhere, in moist and well-drained soil. They are easy to divide, and are best divided in the winter when they are not actively growing. Dig around the clump, lift it, and then remove several offshoot bulbs. Be careful, as some crinum bulbs can weigh up to 18 kilograms. Be aware that it may take a few years for the plant to reflower. Division is the common method as seeds take a long time to germinate and reach flowering size.
Generally crinums are easy to care for, however they can be affected by bulb mites, red blotch fungus or crinum mosaic potyvirus which causes yellow streaks in the leaves.