Blood Lily: How To Grow And Care For The Haemanthus

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The Blood Lily or African Blood Lily is part of the Scadoxus multiflorus, formerly Haemanthus multiflorus genus, a group of perennial bulbous plants that number about sixty.

Blood Lilies, in particular, may be further divided into two classifications – the evergreen kind or the deciduous variety. Blood lily plants produce red berries in the fall.  

Blood lily scadoxus multiflorusPin
Spectacular Flower of the Blood Lily Scadoxus multiflorus

This bulbous perennial is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family and is native to tropical or subtropical regions of South Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland), most sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal to Somalia), and Arabian Peninsula (Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen). 

Haemanthus Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Haemanthus
  • Common Name(s): Blood Lily, Fireball lily, Powderpuff lily, Katherine-wheel, Oxtongue Lily, Football lily
  • Synonyms: Scadoxus multiflorus
  • Pronunciation: hae-man-thus
  • Family & Origin: Amaryllidaceae family, native to South Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland), most sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal to Somalia), and Arabian Peninsula (Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen)
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
  • Size: Grows up to 14″ inches tall and wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in late summer or early fall with clusters of red flowers
  • Light: Prefers bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: Medium humidity
  • Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Loamy or sandy soil rich in nutrients
  • Water: Water regularly during the growing season, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize with fertilizer high in phosphorus during the growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs. May also be affected by root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Propagate by leaf cuttings or dividing roots
  • Plant Uses: Used as a houseplant or in outdoor gardens as a border or accent plant.

Fireball Lily: A Spectacular Display

This unique plant produces large, spherical flower heads resembling red fireworks or fireballs.

Made up of red, star-shaped florets with yellow-tipped stamens, these flowers explode from the landscape and attract bees, butterflies, and birds. 

Evergreen Blood Lilies are known for having relatively sizable, succulent leaves and the hardy aspect of thriving all year long. It grows up to 14″ inches tall and wide.

In addition to blood lily, other common names are the following:

  • Fireball lily
  • Powderpuff lily
  • Katherine-wheel
  • Oxtongue Lily
  • Football lily

The Deciduous Blood Lilies require a period of rest if the owner wishes to see them bloom the next season.

It prefers medium humidity. The most efficient way to raise the humidity around your tropical plants is with a cool-mist room humidifier.

Our experts predict weather patterns as best they can to set suitable shipping windows for each growing zone. 

This South African genus and its known species can be found in Arabia, Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and Botswana.

On the other hand, the blood lily Scadoxus puniceus species (paintbrush lily) are native mostly to the Cape Town or Eastern Cape provinces in South Africa.

Blood Lily red and green flowers on thick stems, large wavy leavesPin

African Blood Lily: A Unique Plant Species

The term “Haemanthus” means blood flower in botanical books.

The African Blood Lily, or the Haemanthus albiflos of the evergreen variety, is characterized by broad, colorful foliage shaped like a tongue and large, egg-shaped bulbs.

Blood Lily Flower: A Fiery Fireball

The globe-shaped flower heads seem to hover in mid-air, and the leaves that appear later add texture to a planting.

Don’t let the fearsome name fool you. The globe-shaped flower of a Blood Lily can either come in white or in a variety of red, growing in clusters, and appears to have small, flat heads which resemble a tiny paintbrush.

The small bunches are surrounded by either white or dark green bracts, which make them attractive house plants.

The flower’s highlight may very well be its bright yellow anthers that complement the red/white appearance well, looking at a fiery fireball!

Fireball Flower: A Striking Appearance

While the fireball lily does not exhibit a notable fragrance, its impressive look more than makes up for the lack of scent.

The addition of evergreen leaves makes it last all year long, but those without this aspect lose their leaves at the end of the blooming season.

The African blood lily shows off its breathtaking color and bright spathes approximately 3 to 4 months of the year.

African Blood Lily Care: Caring for Scadoxus Multiflorus

Optimal Lighting and Temperature for Blood Lily

A cheery environment with bright, indirect light is most optimal for a Blood Lily. Put them in a room with lots of light but beware of putting them in contact with full sun during the summer seasons.

Though the Haemanthus Albiflios can be safely put in the protective shade, its leaves will not be as green and can come off as pale-looking.

Afternoon shade is especially beneficial to protect these plants from the effects of the hot afternoon sun.

The ideal temperature range for this plant is 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

Moreover, this plant thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Ideal Soil and Watering Conditions for Healthy Fire Lily Growth

Soil Loamy or sandy soil that is rich in nutrients is ideal for the blood lily. 

It quickly provides the plant with all the essential nutrients and ensures healthy growth.  

The African Blood Lily and its sister species, the Haemanthus katherinae love the summer temperature, so put them out in the upper 60° degrees Fahrenheit or higher if possible.

Understandably, these plants cannot tolerate and survive frost in winter-like conditions.

Blood Lilies are great as house plants in a conservatory. Other types of Haemanthus species should be potted and placed strategically in shaded windows as the blooming period comes around.

Great accent in a container and an exciting house plant. Also makes a unique addition to cut-flower bouquets. Both are deer and rodent resistant.

Haemanthus albiflos, in particular, can thrive under sunny conditions all year long and are hardy enough to grow outside in the summertime.

This plant is very easy to maintain and doesn’t require much attention.

Just make sure not to put it in extremely hot temperatures or in direct contact with the summer sun, and your Blood Lily should be fine.

An environment that provides partial shade will be perfect.

Fireball Lily Flower Maintenance and Blooming Cycle

It blooms just like any house plant in the late summer or fall and seemingly lies dormant during the other times of the year.

After dormancy, adding fresh soil and watering more frequently will enable the blood lily to bloom again with vigor. 

Inspect the leaves every now and then, and remove the withered ones to keep them looking lovely.

Haemanthus coccineus, also known as powder puff lily, April fool, March flower, and King of Candia, also belongs to the scadoxus genus of the family Amaryllidaceae.

It has two leaves per bulb, and they love rocky slopes and shaded kloofs as habitat. This species needs light soil with good drainage, partial shade, and regular watering.

Put your Blood Lily in a pot with a good mixture of sand and rich potting soil. Since they are very hardy, regular repotting isn’t necessary unless in emergencies.

This mixture will allow the soil to stay moist while offering excellent drainage, which is important for a healthy plant.

Remember that these plants grow much better blooms if they are left in peace.

Water your Blood Lily sparingly at first as they become active and start to grow, gradually increasing the liquid intake as they grow in size and bloom.

Make sure to water consistently during this time; you may also feed them plant food once every two weeks.

In winter, only water when the soil and plant appear too dry; don’t water when the leaves wither and start to fall.

Paint Brush Lily Care: Fertilizing and Winter Storage Tips

A fertilizer high in phosphorus during the growing season works well for these plants and supports blooming. When the blood lily begins to die off, stop fertilizing. Fertilize again once its dormant period is over.

NOTE: For winter storage, keep bulbs between 50° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit. Pack bulbs in a container with peat moss. In spring, plant bulbs outdoors in the ground or in pots when all danger of frost passes.

You may also like: Caring For The Bottle Brush Plant

Haemanthus Fire Ball Plant: Maintenance and Propagation

Don’t worry too much about your African Blood Lily flower – it has a very long lifespan as long as you don’t put them under direct sunlight and leave them out during winter.

The deciduous varieties are different, so they’ll need to rest before the next blooming season starts.

Beware of mealy bugs that can hide under the Blood Lily’s leaves and into the potted soil; remove them by dabbing a cotton ball with alcohol.

As for the well-drained soil, drench it with a systemic insecticide. Spider mites may also appear in cases of warm, dry environments, but misting and wiping the leaves should take of them.

Don’t be afraid of repotting your Starfire Lily if you see the roots crowding so much that they spill out over the pot.

This also means that now is the right time to try and propagate your Blood Lilies by dividing the roots and putting them in their own pot filled with sand and rich potting soil.

There’s another, less traditional way of multiplying your Starfire Lilies. Select a piece of succulent leaf, then place it in a plastic bag and put it on top of a warm window sill.

Observe, and in a few weeks, some tiny plants will appear near where you cut the leaves from. These plants may be delicately removed and prepared for their new home of potting soil and sand.

Fireball Plant Favorites

Haemanthus varieties such as the Haemanthus atharinae and the Haemanthus puniceus are among the favorite Blood Lilies in homes around the world.

It should be noted that they are deciduous and not evergreen, so they should be allowed to rest if owners wish to see them in bright blooms come next summer or fall season.

The leaves, which can grow up to a maximum of 14″ inches, bear a thick, red stem, from which a flower head with masses of paintbrush-like mini-flowers with lovely spathes come out.

The new Blood Lilies should be kept at a warm temperature of about 55° Fahrenheit, with maximum temperatures of 65° Fahrenheit during spring to stimulate flower growth.

At rest, the soil should only be watered if it’s bone dry. Offset bulbs and seeds may be planted in pots at an optimal temperature of 70° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

You may also plant them in small pots and move them to larger ones to accommodate growth.

If you are interested in growing and caring for a Fireball lily plant, buy them from plant nurseries or mail-order bulb companies to ensure the best quality is best.

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