An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 23, 2008

Suspicion Confirmed

We have a number of display beds at work, and in one of them we have tried to give it a tropical look. Earlier in the month, I noticed this unusual plant blooming, but no one could give me a definitive name. We suspected it may be some variety of Haemanthus. While browsing through this month's bloom day postings, I noticed that Jeff at The Transitional Gardener had a plant that looked just like it, confirming our suspicion. Haemanthus is native to southern Africa, but this particular one is hardy for us in 7b. The foliage is worthy in itself, looking as it should belong somewhere more exotic than Suffolk. We were given this plant by a bulb vendor who was always our temporary neighbor when we had a booth at the Virginia Flower and Garden Show -back when the show actually featured flowers and gardens. We planted the bulb years ago, but I have never noticed the flowers until this year.

By the way, if you happen to visit Jeff's site, make sure you read his latest post, which among other things, concerns naked ladies and butterbeans. It is a good story about plants and our associations with them and should appeal to any gardener, but especially so to Southern ones.


  1. That's an incredible plant, Les--I love the foliage. Does it need special conditions (like wet feet)? And I loved Jeff's posting about the naked ladies--glad to see you direct others that way.

  2. It is beautiful and should be hardy here. I will look for it!

  3. This lovely species is no longer part of the genus Haemanthus. It is a Scadoxus.


  4. Hi, Les--I meant to ask you earlier how you fared last night--I heard the storms were pretty severe where you are. And do you know gardeners in South Texas? I haven't heard much about the effects of Dolly yet.

  5. Cosmo,
    The one thing it does not like is wet feet. The one in our display garden is in filtered sun, and we do not irrigate. Like most S. African plants, I think it is very drought tolerant. BTW we got over 2.5" of rain yesterday in Norfolk with lots of lightening, but no damage.

    Looking for the bulbs next winter/spring may be the best way find them.

    Thanks for the update. I saw several references that put Scadoxus in parentheses behind Haemanthus so I figured the taxonomist were up to something.


  6. Hi Les, I have tagged you for a meme. The instuctions are Here.

    There are tons of Asiatic Lilies blooming here now, yet I still want the things that might be marginally hardy, like the Naked Ladies, Zephyranthes and Oxblood lilies. The Haemanthus is really out of the question.

  7. Thanks, Les, for the "promo" - I'm really enjoying meeting everyone via blogging; that's been the best part of the whole experience. I do now remember reading about the name change from Haemanthus to Scadoxus, but sometimes have adapting to these shifts in nomenclature.

    BTW, I find that most of the South African bulbs (like many plants in general) can take lots of water when they're in full growth, as long as they have great drainage when it's cold. This one may be less hardy than some due to its growth cycle which seems skewed more toward fall than summer - my clone, at least, tends to break dormancy around July 1, and doesn't really want to go dormant until around Christmas (although we usually have a frost before that which makes the decision for it.) It's easy to dig and store the bulbs, though, so it should be growable far north of here.

  8. I was reading this post - and thinking to myself "I have that plant!" but I couldn't dig it up on my blog, and finally found a post where I include an image of it:

    (Sorry, if I were more hip, I'd know how to link it in the comment).

    There was a booth at one of the Charleston Garden Festivals (held each fall) that had these - I believe they were Roberta's Exotics? Or something like that? The foliage is gorgeous, as are the stalks:

  9. Hello Lee,

    Your comment at Gail's blog led me here - when I saw this photo I immediately thought of Pam, and what do you she is!

    I think the post Pam wants to link to is this one.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. I read (Cosmos) that it was your birthday and wanted to say Happy Birthday from one July baby to another!


  11. Thamks to everyone for all of the information. Happy Birthday to you too Gail.