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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 which number about sixty.
Blood Lilies in particular may be further divided into two classifications – the evergreen kind or the deciduous variety.
Evergreen Blood Lilies are known for having relatively sizable, succulent leaves and the hardy aspect of thriving all year long. The Deciduous Blood Lilies require a period of rest if the owner wishes to see them bloom the next season.
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.
The term “Haemanthus” means blood flower in botanical books. The African Blood Lily, or the Haemanthus albiflos of the evergreen variety, characterized by a broad, colorful foliage shaped like a tongue and large, egg-shaped bulbs.
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 yellow anthers that are bright and complement the red/white appearance well, giving the look of a fiery fireball!
While Blood Lilies don’t exhibit a notable fragrance, it’s impressive look more than makes up for the lack of scent.
The addition of evergreen leaves make 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
A bright and cheery environment is most optimal for a Blood Lily. Put them in a room with lots of light but beware of putting them in contact with direct sunlight during the summer seasons.
Though the Haemanthus Albiflios can be safely put in protective shade, its leaves will not be as green and can come off as pale-looking.
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.
Haemanthus albiflos in particular can thrive under sunny conditions all year long, and are hardy enough to grow outside in 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 to the summer sun, and your Blood Lily should be fine.
An environment that provides partial shade will be perfect.
It blooms just like any house plant in the late summer or fall, and seemingly lie dormant during the other times of the year.
Inspect the leaves every now and then, and remove 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 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.
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 blooms.
Make sure to water consistently during this time; you may also feed them plant food once in 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.
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Haemanthus Maintenance and Propagation
Don’t worry too much about your African Blood Lily – 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 in which they’ll need to rest before the next blooming season starts.
Beware of mealy bugs which can hide under the Blood Lily’s leaves and into the potted soil; remove them by dabbing a piece of 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.
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 in warm temperature of about 55° degrees Fahrenheit, with maximum temperatures of 65° degrees 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 plant, it is best to buy them from plant nurseries or mail-order bulb companies to ensure the best quality.