Considered a minor bulb, the fritillaria has several popular species, including the checker lily, or guinea hen flower, and crown imperial. Each provides striking, bell-shaped flowers that enjoy part shade and overwinter in USDA zones 5 through 8. Plant the checker lily in rock gardens or among low ground cover for detail and interest. Enjoy the crown imperial and other tall species with bright flowers as a royal backdrop to your spring and early summer displays.
Choose a location that will receive sun and part shade and has good drainage. Soggy soil will quickly rot your bulbs and destroy your efforts.
Cultivate the soil to a depth of 12 inches, incorporating organic matter deep into the mix. Bulbs, especially those that will return yearly, require nutrients at root level to develop properly.
Take precautions against bulb rot when planting fritillarias. Water can pool in the the flat, ringed texture of the bulb's top, causing rot. Fill in the rings with layers of clean sand and plant the bulbs on their side. The shoots will emerge vertically and prevent moisture buildup.
Plant small fritillaria bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart. Large bulbs require 12 inches between bulbs planted 6 inches deep.
Mulch over the plants after cutting the foliage back for the winter. Always allow fritillaria bulb foliage to die away naturally, as the foliage fuels the bulb with energy for next year's blooms.