F. pontica

Balkans Fritillary

"The flower that on the lonely hillside grows
Expects me there when spring its bloom has given;
And many a tree & bush my wanderings knows,
And e'en the clouds & silent stars of heaven."

-Jones Very


F. pontica is native to Turkey, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria & the Balkans. Five of these Balkans Fritillary bulbs were planted in autumn in a slightly raised roadside garden close to a native Snowberry where it gets full morning sun.

All five popped up in April with crosier-like curls of stems & leaves supporting greeny "missionbell" flowers.

F. ponticaThey start out mostly green with pinkish & peach hues & blushes in mid & late April, lasting through much of May. They have red or orange markings hiding on the inside.

They are endearing blooms, even though not especially showy, easily lost amidst surrounding greenery. They belong at the very front border to have a chance to show themselves off.

There can be as many as three to five stems of flowers per bulb, up to three flowers per stem, eight to fifteen inches tall. The flowers are scented, but not pleasantly so.

Many fritillaries can be delicate for temperate gardens, but Fritillaria pontica is among the easiest, & will naturalize with fair reliability. Other easy ones that do well in our area include Foxes' Grapes (F. uva-vulpis), Cyprian missionbells (F. acmopetala) & Checkered Lilies (F. meleagris). One of the prettiest & showiest is F. michaelowsky which alas is a bit harder to convince to naturalize, though not impossible.

It likes moist rich soil for spring, dryer for summer & winter. Placement near shrubs is a good way to make sure the soil does not stay wet for too long around the frit bulbs, so long as they also get their full share of sunlight.


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