Haemanthus katharinae

Blood Lily , from South Africa, is the loveliest of the genus Haemanthus, which numbers some 60 species (distributed only in Africa). The most widely cultivated is H. albiflos, with yellowish-white flowers and leathery leaves growing to either side. H. katharinae is quite different. It has a large bulb from which grows a stout stem. The leaves are large, up to 30 cm (12 inch) long, with prominent veins. The flowers, which appear at the same time as the leaves, are blood-red (hence the generic name) and arranged in dense, globose umbels up to 25 cm (10 in) in diameter. The individual flowers have narrow stalks, 3 cm (1 inch) long, pointed perianth segments and very prominent stamens that extend far out from the flower. The cultivar ‘Konig’s Albert’ is well known. It is more robust and has scarlet-red flowers. It was introduced to the market about 1900.

It grows best in a miniature conservatory but also does well in a position further away from the window with sufficient diffused light. Feed regularly during the growing season. During the resting period, from October to March, some leaves drop. Limit watering during this time. Propagate either by bulb offsets or by seeds.

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