By Nikki Phipps
Exotic-looking with yellow and red flower petals that curl backward like a flash of brilliant flames, gloriosa lily plants will add unique interest to your garden or indoor setting. Learn more about the care of gloriosa lilies here.
Gloriosa Lily Plants
Gloriosa lilies (Gloriosa superba) consist of 5-6 tender climbing vines, which are natives of South Africa. These vines grow from oddly-shaped tubers that sprout and travel underground. The name Gloriosa comes from the word gloriosus, which means handsome and superba from the word superb, clearly alluding to the beautiful flowers which appear from November to March.
Also, commonly known as climbing lilies, flame lilies, or glory lilies, these beautiful plants are suitable for growing on trellises or in containers (both indoors as houseplants and outdoors). Gloriosa lily plants make lovely fresh-cut flower arrangements as well. If the flowers are cut just before the petals bend back, they will last up to 8 days in an arrangement.
- The species G. rothschildiana has whorled leaves and flowers wavy-edged petals. The crimson flowers edged in bright yellow make the blooms look as if they’re on fire, hence its common name of flame Lily. This gloriosa lily reaches anywhere from 3-6 feet tall.
- G. superbavar ‘Lutea’ has pure yellow flowers with slender petals.
- G. simplex produces orange and yellow flowers that open with a light greenish tinge. The vines reach about 3 feet in length.
How to Grow a Gloriosa Lily Plant
Planting gloriosa lily tubers is easy. Grow gloriosa lilies in well-drained, organic soil in a location that receives full sun or light to medium shade.
Gloriosas prefer warm temperatures ranging from 60º to 75º F. (15-24 C.) but will tolerate temperatures down to 50º F. (10 C.). To extend the blooming period of gloriosas, start the tubers inside in late winter and then transplant them to the garden in spring.
Container-grown gloriosas can accommodate one to three tubers in an 8-inch (or larger) pot. If placing outside in the garden, planting gloriosa tubers should be done in the spring after all frost has passed and approximately 2 inches deep. The tubers should be set horizontally in the holes as well.
Care of Gloriosa Lilies
Gloriosa lily plants can reach heights up to 6 or 8 feet; therefore, support with a trellis or other suitable object is recommended.
Water and fertilize gloriosas while they are in active growth throughout the blooming period. After blooming, gradually stop watering, then dig and store the tubers. They can be left in pots of dry soil until spring, when they should be replanted in fresh soil. In suitable climates, however, they can be left in the ground over winter if sheltered from cold, damp conditions.
Propagating your gloriosa lilies is quite easy. Offsets may be detached or the tubers may be divided during its dormant period. All gloriosa lilies produce large pods of reddish, marble-like seeds in the fall. These can be collected, saved and sown at a later date to reproduce more gloriosa lily plants. The new plants will form tubers in their third season.
A special note of interest for anyone with children or pets, all parts of glorisa lilies are poisonous and potentially fatal if ingested.