The fritillaries consist of about 100 species of which only one or two are commonly seen in the open garden. These are the snakes-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) and the crown imperial (F. imperialis).
Nearly all the others are also in cultivation but these are mainly grown by alpine specialists who tend to grow them in pots in the alpine house or special bulb frames. A few are grown in the open garden.
They are a very attractive group of bulbs and it is easy to see why some gardeners get besotted with them. The snakes-head, with its hanging, bell-shaped flowers in distinctly mottled shades of white to purple, can be grown in the open border or grown in grass as a meadow plant where their dainty nodding heads look superb.
It prefers a moistish soil. It will generally increase itself from its scattered seed. The crown imperial prefers warmer conditions and is best grown in rich soil in a south-facing border. This is a much taller and stately plant, its only drawback is its somewhat foxy smell. It is not the easiest of plants to grow and may need replacing at intervals.
The other species can be more difficult to grow, but given the right conditions they are fine and worth persevering with as they are among the most delicately beautiful garden plants. Growing them in a container often enables you to give them special care. They should be repotted in fresh compost once they have died down in mid summer.