Scarborough Lily–Vallota speciosa

Scarborough Lily is native to South Africa, and is a genus of a single species only, V. speciosa. It is closely related to Hippeastrums, with their large and decorative trumpet-shaped flowers.

This is not a difficult plant to grow but it needs a light and sunny position to flower. The small side bulbs which are produced take three to four years to produce flowers.

The scarlet flowers are 8— 10cm (3-4in) in diameter and have decorative yellow-tipped stamens. The flowers are produced in late summer in clusters of 3-8 on a 60cm (2ft) tall stem.

There are two delicately coloured hybrids but these are usually more difficult to obtain. They are V.s. ‘Alba’ which is white and Vs. ‘Delicata’ which is a pale salmon pink.

The strap-like leaves are dark green, often tinged with a deep pinky red at the base. They are 1— 2.5cm (‘/2-1 in) wide and 30-45cm (12-18in) long. Bulbs are of flowering size when they reach about 3.5cm (1½in).Scarborough Lily–Vallota speciosa

Display ideas

A flowering Scarborough Lily placed amongst a green plant display will provide a wonderful splash of colour that contrasts well with the deep greens. Alternatively put three or four plants in a basket and place in a grate to brighten a brick fireplace. Scarborough Lily is a sun-loving plant and will enjoy a spell on a patio in summer warmth, but remember to bring it in well before cold autumn weather sets in.

Growing from bulbs

Buy bulbs that are firm and brown skinned. Plant in late spring or early summer.

1 Use a moist, rich, soil-based potting compost and line a 13cm (Sin) pot with drainage material.

2 Plant the bulb in the centre of the pot, with the top half sticking up above the compost, and firm the compost down around the bulb. Water sparingly at first.

3 After 6-8 weeks when the plant is established water just enough to make the mixture moist. Flowers should appear at the end of summer.

Propagation By division

Scarborough Lily is best left undisturbed for 3-4 years or until the original bulb has divided and the small side bulbs cover the surface of the potting mixture. At this point remove the side bulbs which are attached, divide the plant and repot using a rich, soil-based potting mixture. The side bulbs can be planted separately. Remove carefully and plant in the same way as a new bulb. Place smaller ones in a 8cm (3in) pot and repot each year until they reach flowering size (about the size of a shallot).

Plant Problems

Brown blotches on or yellowing of leaves shows that the plant is not receiving the right growing conditions.

Plant does not flower. This is probably due to lack of light and sunshine. Treatment: Place in a bright and sunny spot.


This is an easy plant to grow but it needs a bright spot such as a sunny windowsill for flowering to occur.

  • Potting: Use a rich soil-based potting mixture and plant new bulbs in spring or early summer. Leave plants undisturbed for 3-4 years, top dressing with the same mixture and added bonemeal each year. Divide and repot when the pot is filled with bulbs and side bulbs.
  • In spring and summer water Scarborough Lily just enough to make the potting mixture moist. In winter water just enough to prevent the mixture from drying out.
  • Feeding: Feed established plants every two weeks in spring and summer with a standard liquid fertilizer. Change this to a high potash fertilizer (tomato type) in late summer. Stop feeding in October and allow to rest.


  • Light: This plant needs bright light and a sunny aspect for flowers to appear.
  • Temperature: Normal room temperatures are fine in spring and summer. In winter, rest in a cooler temperature of 100-13°C (50°-55°F).

When to buy

  • Buy bulbs in spring. If you cannot obtain them locally buy through the catalogue of a specialist nursery.
  • Choose bulbs that are firm to the touch and avoid any that are soft or damaged.
  • Bulbs will last for many years. Each divides into several bulbs and these can be separated to make extra plants. Small side bulbs can also be planted separately.

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