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Blood lily: a ball of fire in a flower pot

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After bloom, rosettes of textured, glossy, dark green leaves arise atop speckled stalks, making it a fascinating and decorative foliage plant for months to come.

If pollinated, some stems produce small, round, bright orange-red fruits, which contain several seeds that, when planted fresh, can take up to six months to germinate. But thus far, no winged critter has taken it upon itself to pollinate my plants.

Cultural requirements

Here, in my Midwest garden, I grow my blood lilies in containers filled with a good commercial potting mix. However, the blood lily can be grown in the ground in frost-free climates if the conditions are similar to its tropical homeland.

That would mean: bulbs planted just below soil level, with excellent drainage; supplied with plenty of water while in active growth; kept hot and dry in dormancy; and best left undisturbed for many years. Although tolerant of full sun, in the wild blood lilies are often found growing in the shade of small shrubs.

But for most of us, it’s best to grow them in pots. Plant the bulbs with their necks just at or a little above soil level, taking care not to damage the fleshy roots. Fertilize once or twice during active growth with a weak feeding of liquid fertilizer.

My bulbs are only three years old, and this is the first year all five bulbs bloomed, though not all at once. (OK, maybe I’m being picky. But if they could only get their act together and bloom all at once, I’d highly appreciate it.) Literature tells me they should bloom in mid- to late summer, but mine bloom in early June.

Could it be that I have some teenager plants on my hands?

Fall and winter care

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