Persian lily

Fritillaria persica or Persian lily. This member of the Liliaceae is native to Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Labanon, and Palestine. The species was introduced into gardens as early as 1585!

The Persian lily can produce flowering stems up to 24 inches in height that are covered in up to 30 conical, bell-shaped flowers each up to 3/4-inchlong. Flowers are typically a deep purple color, but can also show as dark greenish brown in color–a natural variation that can change from year-to-year for the same plants.

Fritillaria persica grows best when its large bulb is planted in well-drained soils with full-sun exposure. Given the native range of the species, Persian lily does well in sandy, rocky soils and hot, dry garden areas. Be careful to not plant bulbs in soils that remain wet for too long, as the large (and expensive) bulbs are susceptible to fungal rots.

Persian lily bulbs are somewhat uncommon in the horticultural trade and can be expensive to buy. Fritillaria persica will only bloom from large-sized bulbs, which take many years to produce before they can be sold to gardeners. Also, the scarlet lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) can take a toll on plants by eating flowers, leaves, and stems. Persian lily is often sold under the name Fritillaria persica ‘Adiyaman’, a more free-flowering selection of the natural species that maintains the same plant size and flower colors.

Botanical Name Fritillaria persica
Common Name Persian lily
Family Liliaceae
USDA Zone 5 thru 8
Light Requirement Full Sun to Part Shade
Season(s) of interest spring, summer
Height and Spread 1-3ft x 1-1.5ft (30-90cm x 30-45cm)
Flower Color Deep Purple to Gray
Attracts Wildlife Attracts Pollinators, Rarely Browsed by Mammalian Herbivores
Additional Information Not Native to the US Midwest. Native range: Middle East
Location in Lurie Garden North Dark Plate, Southwest Dark Plate

Average Flowering Time