Gloriosa Lily Care: Growing Gloriosa Rothschildiana

The Gloriosa rothschildiana, a member of the lily family comes from East Africa and Asia.

It’s the most popular Gloriosa lily and more correctly named Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’ – orange and yellow with beautiful summer flowers.

Other common names of the lily Gloriosa include:

  • Flame lily
  • Fire lily plant
  • Glory lily
  • Superba lily
  • Climbing lily vine
  • Creeping lily
gloriosa flower up close

Apart from tropical Africa, other exciting species of Gloriosa superba lilies come from tropical parts of Asia. In addition, a number of hybrid Gloriosas have been raised in recent years. Also, some of them were naturalized in Australia and Pacific region. Some notable places where these bulbous plants can be found include Queensland, New South Wales, Coff Harbour, and Lord Howe Island.

This “fragile grower” with exotic colored flowers, narrow, waxy-edged petals is a climber needing a trellis or some type of wire or support for the tendrils to cling to.

Gloriosa Lily At A Glance

Size and Growth Rate: Frail, tender climber, yard long stems requiring a trellis or support to attach and cling to. Grows well in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11.

Gloriosa Flowering and Fragrance: The plant earns the name Gloriosa when it begins blooming with 3″ to 4″ inch flowers having no real fragrance and a bloom time approximately 2 to 3 months after planting a mature bulb.

Light and Temperature: Glory lilies require full sun and warm temperatures, but appreciate partial shade from hot mid-day sun. Keep night temperatures above 65° degrees Fahrenheit. Plants thrive with increased humidity around them.

Soil and Transplanting: A light, African Violet-type well-drained soil works well or make your own with a mix of 3 parts peatmoss, 1 part sand and 1 part perlite.

Pruning and Grooming: Generally, Gloriosa Lily requires little pruning or grooming as they are pretty “clean” plants. Do not be afraid to cut off flowers for use indoors as the blooms hold up well after cutting.

Propagation: Small tubers form from the main tuber and can mature with proper care in about a year. Plants respond well to warm temperatures, good water and moisture and ample feeding during the growing season. They can also be grown from seeds.

Winter can at times be a challenge, as tubers can dehydrate during the winter dormancy.

botanical drawing of gloriosa lily superba

Growing And Care Of Gloriosa Lily In Pots

In growing the lily Gloriosa, start off right with what would be considered a plump #1 tuber (about 4″ inches long or more)

February to May

Plant the large tuber about 4″ inches deep, horizontally in a rich well draining soil.

Before planting make sure the soil is moist. When planting, its good to get the trellis or future support in place.

This will mean the plants roots and tender growth will not be disturbed later on.

Keep soil evenly moist, temperatures above 65° degrees Fahrenheit but at a constant temp when starting the tubers.

Be Bold! In a larger pot, plant multiple Gloriosa Lily tubers for an exotic looking display.

May to August

As the Gloriosa superba Lily begins growing in full sun, gently water the lily. Using a “water breaker” will shower the soil gently to not disturb the small, tiny feeder roots.

On bright days some recommend misting the plant, which would be more apt to be done in a sun room for example. If you mist do not spray the blooms as this may cause water spots.

If growing in strong full sun, provide shade during hottest parts of the day.

Provide good humidity for best growing results.

August to February

When flowers stops, slowly reduce watering.

After the top has withered, cut and remove it and prep the tuber for winter storage.

Examine tuber for new “child bulbs”, remove the new tuber to expand your collection.

Store new tubers separately (sand or vermiculite is excellent)from “mother” bulbs. The new smaller bulbs will need a little extra moisture during the winter months.

It is important to keep temperature between 50°-60° degrees Fahrenheit.

In general – No water, unless tubers begin to shrivel, dampen sand slightly. Too much water can cause rot.

Growing In The Ground

Get a plump fire lily “bulb” or tuber, 4″ to 5″ inches long. Order early as Gloriosa Lilies sell out quickly.

The tubers should be sprouted slightly, for quick growth and emergence from the ground.

By purchasing the tubers of Gloriosa lilies (the larger ones) in the spring, and holding them in a moderately cool and dry area, it should be possible to keep them in good condition until May or June each year.

If quick and vigorous growth can be obtained during the warm weeks of summer, it will be possible to have the fire lily bulb bloom in eight to ten weeks after planting, sometimes even sooner.

When the ground is warm, and the weather sunny in early summer, plant the tubers in a sunny location, preferably in a raised bed a few inches high of loamy, sandy, fertile soil.

Lay the tubers flat in a furrow as if they were sweet peas, using only a little commercial garden fertilizer worked into the furrow before planting. Cover about three inches deep, after planting with the sprout pointing up.

The tuberous roots spring from the under side of the sprouted tip, and the new tuber forms in front of the old tuber as the plant matures.

The Gloriosa lily should have wire, stake, trellis or string to climb, which it does by curious tendrils at the tips of the leaves.

The stem will grow four to six or eight feet tall, depending on sunlight, watering, fertility of the soil and strength of the tuber.

Medium to large size tubers will produce 2 – 20 or more flowers in a season, depending on many factors. After planting, the sprout will appear above ground in a few days.

The location should have protection from high wind, hard rains and the hottest sun. Part shade, up to 50 per cent, is satisfactory. The blooms have longer stems under shade, and the flowers are larger.

Gloriosa Lilies Pests and Problems

One of the biggest problems of gloriosa lilies is the tubers dehydrating. This is often caused during the winter months when tubers stay to warm. The other problem can be rot when tubers stay too damp. Check the tuber occasionally for any possible shriveling.

Dry, pale leaves usually mean too much sun (usually mid-day sun). Try moving plant to an area where it will get some shading during the hot mid-day sun.

Curling leaves, check for insects – red spider mites on undersides of leaves.

Plant growth seems stunted – possible a virus, discard plant.

Slimy spots under leaves a gift of the lily beetle. Looks like a lady bug – black underneath and bright red on top. Best control is hunt, pick and step on them!

gloriosa flower arrangement
Lily Glory flower arrangment

Unusual Cut Flowers

The exotic, bright colored flower of the Gloriosa lily plant is long lasting, and in some parts of the world, the “glory Lily” is grown as a cut flower.

Just a few flowers can make for an stunning and unusual arrangement.

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.