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How to Grow Blood Lily — Haemanthus

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Haemanthus–commonly called blood lily–is a perennial bulb that produces globe-shaped clusters of flowers that bloom at the top of a leafless stem. Some flower umbels have as any as 100 very small but long tubular flowers, usually blood red colored–thus the common name.

Haemanthus flowers are borne above basal strap-shaped leaves that reach 12 to 18 inches long. Haemanthus flowers bloom in summer and fall; flowers are followed by scarlet berries.

Haemanthus can be planted outdoors in beds and borders in warm-winter regions. It can also be grown as a houseplant.

Haemanthus is a genus of about 20 species of bulbous perennials. Haemanthus is native to grassy and rocky hillsides in South Africa.

Get to know Haemanthus

  • Plant type: Bulbous perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 13-15
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 8 to 18 inches (20-45cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Strap-shaped to lance-shaped mid to dark green basal leaves
  • Flowers: Small flowers in showy umbels
  • Bloom time: Summer to autumn
  • Uses: Beds and borders; houseplant
  • Common name: Blood lily
  • Botanical name: Haemanthus
  • Family name: Amaryllidaceae
  • Origin: South Africa
Blood lily, Haemanthus multiflorus
Blood lily, Haemanthus multiflorus

Where to plant Haemanthus

  • Light outdoors: Grow Haemanthus in full sun or dappled shade.
  • Light indoors: Give Haemanthus bright when buds open to prolong flowering.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Haemanthus in well-drained, moderately feritle, neutral ot alkaline soil.
  • Soil indoors: Plant in a soil-base potting mix with added leaf mod and grit.

When to plant Haemanthus

  • Plant Haemanthus bulbs in autumn or winter.

Planting and spacing Haemanthus

  • Plant bulbs with the necks above the soil surface in autumn or winter.
  • Space Haemanthus to 12 inches (20-30cm) apart.

How to water and feed Haemanthus

  • Water Haemanthus freely when growing. Keep the soil just moist when Haemanthus is dormant.
  • Fertilize Haemanthus with a dilute, balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.

Haemanthus care

  • Haemanthus flowers best when pot-bound; they can remain in the same container for many years.

Growing Haemanthus as a houseplant

  • Grow Haemanthus in a cool room with direct light and average to high humidity.
  • Plant bulbs with the tip just above the sruace of a well-drained, soilless medium, and keep it evenly moist during growth and flowering.
  • Fertilize Haemanthus monthly when the plant is growing or flowering.
  • After the flowers have bloomed, withhold water and allow the foliage to turn brown.
  • Store bulbs over the winter in a pot, and resume watering in ealry spring.

Haemanthus pests and diseases

  • Haemanthus may be atacked by mealybugs and scale insects.
  • Soft rot, anthracnose, and botrytis blight may be a problem for Haemanthus.

Haemanthus propagation

  • Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe.
  • Remove and pot up offsets in early spring.

Haemanthus varieties to grow

  • Haemanthus coccineus. Mid-green , strap-shaped leaves to 18 inches long; up to 100 small red flowers with prominent yellow stamens in umbels.
  • H. multiflorus. Leaves to 12 inches long; tubular blood red flwoers in clusters 6 to 12 inches across on 18-inch stems; up to 100 flowers in a cluster; flowers are followed by scarlet berries.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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