Unforgettable Moments: Digging Up Huge Crinum Bulbs

By Becca Badgett | October 1, 2020
Image by kendoNice
by Becca Badgett
October 1, 2020

Many moments in the garden are unforgettable, and many more that you love but they then slide from your mind. Some of my unforgettable moments involve areas where I gained expertise or did something exactly right.

Others (many others) include embarrassing garden moments and downright failures from doing something wrong. But the one moment that seems to stand out the most in my gardening memory bank goes back to the days of digging up my growing crinum lily plants.

Crinum Lily Bulbs – Warning, They Get Big

Digging the crinum bulbs for a move was definitely an unforgettable garden moment. They’d been planted about 10 years and who knew they would get so huge. There were many babies on them as well. If you want to grow them, be forewarned that crinum bulbs can become sizable, sometimes reaching anywhere from 9-10 inches (20-26 cm.) in diameter. While they may begin smaller, weighing in at a mere 1-2 pounds, those mature crinum bulbs can get up to 20 lbs. (9 kg.) or more.

Crinum bulb – Becca Badgett

While mine didn’t get quite that large, they were still big enough that it made digging them up a rather tedious task. Replanting those crinum lilies in another location allowed them an opportunity to grow even more, which is good since, in addition to their large growth, they stick around for a long time… something else I didn’t consider when I first planted them.

Crinum clump – Becca Badgett

Originally a native to southeast Asia, the plant has adapted well to the American South. Crinums are also known as a cemetery plant, growing in old graveyards and plantations in the Southeast. Estimates lead some to think the flowers may continue to grow for 100 years or longer. In many cases, they live longer than those who planted them. No doubt mine will linger on long after I’m gone – many of my descendants too.

And it’s not just the crinum bulbs that get big. Those I planted in the ground have bloomed on stalks 3 to 5 feet high (.91 to 1.5 m.) with fragrant, bell-shaped blooms in pink or white. They can, however, get up to 6 feet (1.8 m.) in height. When you see the spring blooms and smell the sweet scent, you might be reminded of an unforgettable moment too. The same blooms may cause a loved one to think of you after you’re gone”┬Žlike remembering the growing crinum lily plants in grandma’s garden.

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  • Cindy Boling
    Comment added November 9, 2020Reply

    I found one of these crinum bulbs on my property years ago and never knew what it was. One grew into many and I love them. It's now time for me to divide my monster sized bulbs and share with a friend...so I'm glad I came across this article so I can also share some background with her. BTW the area I found my first blub had a home on it about 80 years ago and there are obvious signs of flower gardens around the property. We also found a Chinese winter honey suckle which I understand are very old fashion and not usually in North Central Texas. we love it too.

  • Sandra D. Guice
    Comment added November 7, 2020Reply

    We have some crinum lilies at our home place in south Mississippi that are over 120 years old.
    Ours are the Milk and Wine lilies. We transplanted some in northeast MS and they are growing fine.

  • PJ
    Comment added October 3, 2020Reply

    I was disappointed that there is not a video of the dig, nor even a single photo of the digger & the bulbs. NOT sharing.

    • elizabeth nosser
      Comment added October 2, 2021Reply

      Me too

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