By Nikki Phipps
Don’t be alarmed by its unflattering name. Growing blood lilies in the garden is a great way to add seasonal interest. Blood lily care is relatively basic and when given suitable accommodations, the plant will continue to reward you each year with its unique fuzzy-looking blooms.
Blood Lily Plant Info
The blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus) is a rhizomatous, evergreen perennial that is native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The most distinguishing feature of this plant is its flower-head. Its former name, Haemanthus translates to blood flower, referring to the color.
Although they bloom for only a week or two, when they’re in full flower, the blood lily makes quite a conversation piece in the garden. Topping off each 8- to 10-inch tall plant is a huge spherical orange-red umbel of nearly 200 tiny flowers. Each plant will produce only one of these magnificent flower-heads in a season. This short-lived, yet, spectacular sight takes place in mid to late summer.
The leaves of the blood lily are large and thin, remaining green year round. Once the flower heads have stopped blooming, they form green berries that eventually become scarlet-colored throughout winter. These decorative berries can remain on the plant for up to 2 months, making them ideal for use in centerpieces and other decorative arrangements.
Blood lily plants make good container specimens and are excellent as cut flowers.
How to Grow Blood Lily Flowering Bulbs
Growing blood lilies is not a difficult task. The blood lily enjoys full sun, but its blooms tend to last longer and perform better when given partial or light shade. In fact, this is a useful plant for shady gardens and looks quite at home in large groups beneath trees, where they do not seem to mind competition from tree roots, provided the soil is good.
Blood lily is planted just below the ground in well-drained, humus-rich soil and prefers to be left undisturbed for many years. The blood lily also likes plenty of water during active growth, but doesn’t enjoy water-logged soils, so try not to over water. In rainfall areas, it has no trouble surviving, provided it is in a well-drained area.
Blood Lily Care
Blood lily is fairly hardy in warmer areas and can be over-wintered with a layer of mulch in the garden. In colder regions, however, blood lily care includes digging up and storing the bulbs in fall.
Blood lily can be propagated by seed and offsets. The seeds should be sown as soon as they have ripened, and flowers can be expected within the third season. Offsets should be removed after flowering and replanted immediately.
As part of your blood lily care maintenance, watch out for the Amaryllis lily borer, which can severely damage the whole plant. Slugs and snails can also damage the foliage.
Caution should always be considered when planting blood lily anywhere in the garden or indoors. According to most blood lily plant info, it is highly toxic to both humans and animals. In fact, all nine species of Scadoxus are poisonous. Two species in particular, S. multiflorus and S. cinnabarinus, are known to still be used as an arrow poison in some of the more remote areas of Africa. In Guinea and Nigeria, the bulbs are also used to make a fishing poison. Because of its toxicity, blood lily is resistant to attacks from most animal pests, especially deer and rodents.