I finally have it! Got my purple crinum (Crinum procerum var. splendens (Queen Emma’s Purple Crinum). The old girl is settling in nicely. It was quite a search as this hardy perennial isn’t always easy to locate. Once located, be prepared to splurge. Rarely is it seen at those big-box store nurseries. But, believe me, the search (and cost) are well worth all the trouble.  

Found mine at Southern Horticulture in St. Augustine, a great source for plants and ideas. Though I didn’t purchase the larger pot size, the one I selected literally hit the ground running, and has almost doubled in size since it was planted about three weeks ago. (That’s not it that you see to the left. That one is in Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Coral Gables.) It is a stunning plant, one to design a garden around, a true specimen bound to demand attention and admiration.

Like all crinums, this one can take just about whatever weather is thrown at it. Drought-tolerant and sun-loving, it will have best foliage color when grown in full sun, though crinums can take a bit of shade. The purple crinum is especially handsome with huge four-foot long leaves, growing in clumps to around six feet in diameter. Upright rigid foliage emerges a rich burgundy with undertones of dark green. In late fall the huge clusters of fragrant white flowers tinged with deep burgundy emerge. 

And like all crinums, the bulbous plant has “contractile” roots that literally winch that sucker down into the ground as it grows. So in other words, don’t expect to easily transplant this or any crinum if you should change your mind about its location. (Might need to consider a stick of dynamite if you do. Just kidding.) It is hardy to 20° F and should be watered regularly until well established. Although this and other crinums are evergreen, expect winter die-back after especially cold weather.

A great place to see criumns, like the purple queen, is Kanapaha Botanical Garden in Gainesville, where there is an extensive crinum garden. Happy hunting for your own purple queen.

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