Haemanthus multiflorus is widespread throughout tropical Africa from Northern to Southern Africa and is also native to tropical Arabia. The plant grows in grassland and woodland but also in savannah and can spread up to 1200 m of altitude.
Haemanthus multiflorus is a rhizomatous succulent belonging to the Amaryllidaceae botanical family. The plant can reach up to 120 cm in height and 30 cm in diameter. The plant is stemless and produces an ovoid bulb from which emerge the leaves. The leaves are up to 35 cm long, elliptical to lanceolate, inclining, pale green to dark green in color, smooth and flat and fall during the dormant period. The base of the leaves forms a pseudostem up to 60 cm long. Blooming occurs from early summer to late winter and the blossoms borne from the bulb. The flowers appear in dense spherical umbels and are large, star-shaped, numerous and scarlet to pale pink with bright pink to red stamens. Each plant produces up to 200 flowers. The inflorescence is borne on a fleshy, leafless, stem up to 75 cm tall. The fruits are bright orange, large and fleshy berries. This plant is unique for its gorgeous flowering and it is recommended for floral composition for its high ornamental value.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 12° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Members of the genus are known as blood lily and paintbrush lily, for the blood red, intense colour of their flowers. The genus Haemanthus was created in 1753 by Linnaeus. The name is derived from Greek words haima and anthos, meaning “blood flower”.
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