Habitat: Subsaharian Africa, Arabian Peninsula
Cultivation: Depends on the species!
Curiosity: For its inflorescence, Scadoxus has been awarded the English nickname of “Blood lily”. This “obscure” aspect is also underlined by the official name of the genus, “Scadoxus”: in fact “Doxus”, in Greek, means “glorious”, while “Sca” means “occult, obscure”.
Scadoxus is a botanical genus of rare perennial plants belonging to the Amarillyllidaceae family, which is the family of daffodils but also of garlic and onions. In fact, Scadoxus are herbaceous plants with bulb or, sometimes, rhizome.
Scadoxuses are almost unknown: if you want to impress someone, getting them a Scadoxus might be the best idea: especially for their flashy blooms that appear at the end of Summer and have the shape of “umbrellas” carrying many flowers, scarlet, pink or orange. These “umbrellas”, with a spectacular diameter of up to 20 centimeters in certain species, are formed on top of a green petiole, sometimes speckled with purple spots, which can reach a meter in height!
For this inflorescence, Scadoxus has been awarded the English nickname of “Blood lily”. This “obscure” aspect is also underlined by the official name of the genus, “Scadoxus”: in fact “Doxus”, in Greek, means “glorious”, while “Sca” means “occult, obscure”.
However, it is not only the inflorescence that makes Scadoxuses so special. The dimensions reached by the leaves and the pseudocaulesis are in fact remarkable: the leaves of certain species in good growing conditions can reach a meter in length with a plant extension in height up to 70 centimeters! The pseudocaule is instead a kind of false stem, formed by the rolling of the leaves especially of the Scadoxus species with rhizome. Also this, like the flower petiole, can be sprinkled with purple spots.
Scadoxuses grow wild in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Also, some species have been introduced in Mexico. Their natural habitat are tropical forests, where these plants grow in the shade and in hot and very humid climates. They can also act as epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow on top of other plants: in tropical forests many herbaceous plants behave in this way: just think of orchids that grow on the armpits of large tree branches. Some species of Scadoxus, usually bulbous ones, also grow in temperate zones.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Scadoxus are rare plants, almost unknown. There are many species of Scadoxus, but the best-known one is surely Scadoxus multiflorus.
TIPS FOR GROWING
In short, the cultivation technique of Scadoxus depends on the species: tropical species do not tolerate temperatures below 10ºC, grow in the shade and require humid and poorly ventilated atmospheres: nebulization could be helpful. Scadoxus should be planted in nutrient-rich soil: even a universal potting soil can do well. Because of their sensitivity to low temperatures, Scadoxus plants give better results as indoor plants, grown in pots.
South African species, in particular S. multiflorus, S. puniceus and S. membranaceous show a better tolerance to cold, resisting up to 5ºC. Also for this reason they are the most widespread in the ornamental gardening world.
In both cases Scadoxus should be helped in winter by placing them in a bright spot: this will help them to resist to cold better. Watering, on the other hand, should be abundant in Summer and reduced in Winter, since an excess of water in the soil in this season favours the development of bulb or rhizome rot.
The Scadoxus can be propagated through the bulb, planting bulbs, or taking the seedlings that develop around the main plant and carefully transplanting them into a new pot.