African blood lily forms 6-inch umbels or globes
with dozens of red florets.
first time I saw the African blood lily was at a flower
show in Atlanta. I was stunned at its size and beauty,
and I put it on my ever-growing bucket list of must have
flowers. Now thanks to my innovative Horticulture
Coordinator Jamie Burghardt, I along with the throngs of
visitors to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens get to
relish in their beauty every year.
African blood lily is known botanically as Scadoxus
multiflorus, a change from the Haemanthus multiflorus.
It is in the Amaryllis family and is indeed native to
South Africa. A lot of literature suggests perennial
only for zones 9-11, but it is not hard to find long
term trials where it is surviving in zone 7-b with great
is particularly true for the subspecies Katherinae.
Sometimes this is referred to as Katherineís torch
lily. Most think that the common name blood lily somehow
references the vibrant color of the blooms, but it
refers to the bulbs looking as though blood had dripped
on their sides. In addition to blood lily, other common
names are fireball lily, powderpuff lily, and football
expanding patch or clump is now three years old. It has
been surprising to see the dramatic increase in size and
the number of flower stalks in such a short amount of
time, especially from reports that they like to be
rootbound to bloom. Ours are growing on a lakeside
shoreline in our shade garden. They get morning sun and
afternoon shade, and while the soil is not the most
fertile, it does have excellent drainage.
flowers have large 6-inch umbels or softball sized
globes borne on stalks about 12- to 18-inches in height.
Each sphere, if you will, has dozens of red florets with
yellow stamens. This creates one of the showiest floral
displays in the plant world.
African blood lily bulb is planted deep enough so that
the top of the neck is above the soil surface. If you
are like us and buy container-grown plants, then place
in the well-prepared bed with the top of the root ball
even with the surface of the ground. This is one flower
that deserves to be clustered in a group of 5 to 7
spacing 10- to- 12 inches to create a dazzling
landscape partners are only limited by your imagination.
The cluster of fiery, red globes standout against a
backdrop of green foliage. Within proximity of our
cluster, we have large farfugium or giant leopard plants
as well as fatsia.
foliage of the African blood lily though much smaller
does have that texture or similarity with bananas and
even some gingers, so a tropical style garden of coarse
foliage would partner well. Clusters of blood lilies,
however, blooming with the deep-blue spikes of Mystic
Spires salvia and Goldsturm rudbeckia would create a
cottage garden long remembered.
forget at best we are talking a zone 7b plant with the
subspecies Katherinae so you may elect to grow them in
containers. An image search on the internet will show
you scores of dazzling photos proving the concept. If
you are, however, in a colder zone, whether in
containers or the landscape reducing water and moving to
a warm winter location will be mandatory. The bulbs can
be easily dug up and stored in dry peat for the winter
African Blood lily doesnít have to be just a plant you
dream about growing or even that you have to wait until
you move to California or the Deep South. You can get it
growing now and then show off your blooms to your