Crinum lilies are large, perennial plants with strappy leaves and large flowers throughout the year. They work great as an accent plant and also make an incredible mass planting in large spaces. Crinum lilies grow from what are among the largest true bulbs, some weighing over 40-pounds. Over time they grow very large clumps that can be split or divided. This where my Suniday project comes in: taking time to prune crinum lily clumps in our front yard.
On the corner of our house, what was once a single small plant has created a solid wall of crinum lily plants. This plant was here when we moved in, and about once a year I find myself thinning it out and pruning down to a more manageable size. You can also see the browning and spotting on the ends of the leaves. Crinum lily rust is not unusual, nor does it present a huge problem for the plant– clearly this one isn’t slowing down! Often just removing the areas showing damage and all dead leaves will knock the rust down quite a bit.
How to Prune Crinum Lily
I start to prune the crinum lily clump by using my folding saw to remove some of the outer stems completely. I cut them back as low to the ground as possible and because they are so full of liquid they cut really easily (not more than 10 seconds of sawing on each one before they snap off!).
Each stem is quite heavy! The largest stems are almost 5″ in diameter and probably weigh 25 lbs each. They are very fibrous so after I finish cutting each stem I have to clean the accumulated gunk off of my saw. This isn’t the most glamorous job, but it is really rewarding because it doesn’t take very long.
Once most of the stems to be removed are cleared, I start to process of removing the dead leaves from the bases. These have naturally died and withered away at the bases of the plants. They easily pull away from the plant and it looks so much better when they are cleaned up! It doesn’t take very long at all and makes such a difference. I like to use garbage bags to collect these because they have a tendency to blow all over and make a mess.
The final step to prune crinum lilies is to remove the green leaves that have visible crinum rust on the tips. It probably wouldn’t hurt anything to leave them, but while going through the effort to clean these up it makes sense to do it really well and get as much as possible. I still use my folding saw for this; it cuts through really easily and doesn’t leave gnarled edges on the leaves. My advice on this part is to be aggressive. Crinum lilies are very tough plants and will grow back quickly.
The final result is a little dramatic, but it won’t take long for this to fill in well. It is better for the plants to have some airflow through here and I don’t have to worry about the crinum lilies; they are extremely tough plants that will only flourish after this pruning.
For more information on crinum lily, this University of Florida publication provides some really good information. Have you taken the time to prune crinum lily at your house? It is a great way to refresh the plants and give your landscape some room to breath.