Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Bulbs: tropical style

 ulbs are usually found in temperate and semi temperate gardens, but are also available in tropical climates. I will be presenting 2 bulbous plants from my garden. They have been there since i was born and have been treated unkindly by members of the family including me. That is because they seem to be always there, difficult to discard and behave like weeds. I say this because they have the habit of just sprouting anywhere, because there are months of the year when they are gone. I even dig some bulbs to throw away to give space for more favored species.

We only have 2 seasons in the tropics, the dry and the rainy seasons. These plants just suddenly produce flowers when the rains arrive in April or May. After 1-2 weeks of elegant splendour, flowers just wilt when the green leaves appear, which eventually also dry during the dry season.  Then the rest of the household forgot everything about them. Sometimes they are cut and thrown away. However, the remaining bulbs are still alive and will sprout again when the rains come. Now we are so sorry for our behaviors, we will redeem these soonest!

Blood lily or football lily, Scadoxus multiflorus or Haemanthus multiflorus, is a beautiful flowering bulb from tropical Africa. How they came to the Philippines to our garden, i am sorry i don't know. The spectacular flowerhead is a huge spherical umbel consisting of up to 100 flowers. One plant produce only one flowerhead per season.  I read somewhere that it may contain a cardiac glycoside which causes cardiac irregularity and sudden death.  (I seem to be posting poisonous plants, i realized this is my second since the  nipple fruit.

By the way, the vegetative plants at the right hand side are growing in an old iron skillet with holes. Without the flowers, they can also be nice as foliage. Whoever called it "repurpose"? I am sorry i forgot, but i used your term. Thank you.

For cultural practices: please click here
For more photos and cultivars: click here
Another bulb crop present in my garden is the red lily, which we call lirio, Hipeastrum puniceum. Its characteristics are the same as the blood lily, so it suffered the same fate,  but show the same persistence. Maybe they can be later on classified as colonizers too for their persistence. Come rainy season and they will show their elegance.

Now i am contemplating on studying them to be made for indoor plants. Maybe its time to pay back for what i did to them in the past! Aren't they gorgeous? I hope you will not crucify me for my sins, fellow bloggers/plant lovers or phytophiles. Those are the days when i am still young and not yet a horticulturist. Now i know better...blah, blah, blah!

Even singly, in small clumps or as hedges, they seem gorgeous. Phytophiles from temperate climes will love this plant for the vibrant colors of summer. Gardeners from the dessert like  Noelle of azplant Lady, and Kathleen of Hill Country Mysteries  should try planting this bulbs. Or maybe you already have them.



  1. Andrea a hedge of these bulbs sounds wonderful! something I've never seen suggested before.

    Your first plant looks like an allium - I wonder if they are related in some way to each other.

    I never really appreciated the flowers around me when I was younger too. Atleast you still have access to these plants - I grew up with so many that I would love to have in my own garden but I now live in another country from my childhood years.

  2. I have seen bulbs arranged as borders here. Lovely when they bloom. They even put alongside residential street. So homely! ~bangchik

  3. I think the bulbs in a hedge or as a border would be beautiful! You are making me think about some flowering bulbs that I have.

    Enjoy and thanks for the gorgeous pictures.

  4. Hi Andrea, that Haemanthus is amazaing - I've never grown it, but now I surely will..... and thank you for featuring my blog on your sidebar recently. Kind regards, Phil

  5. Gorgeous photographs Andrea..... your blog is a real treat!

  6. Both beautiful flowers and photos Andrea and the first reminds me of our allium, purple they are and with basal leaves. I do love them popping up all over the garden; once they bloom the seeds form upon the scapes and are much larger than the Brassica! LOL They reseed all over the garden unless we cut back the seed head.

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend. ;)

  7. Very handsome flowers, Andrea, and both new to me. Thank you for sharing.

  8. These are wonderful tropical bulbs! I don't know why, but it's nearly impossible to find appropriate bulbs for sale in Florida nurseries and garden centers. At least where I live. I snatch them up every time I see them!

  9. Hi Andrea, gorgeous blooms! And you think they might grow in our zone 8 arid climate? If you mean it, I'll look for them because they're extravagent and wonderful.

    Thanks for mentioning me and Hill Country Mysteries in your post. Lovely surprise on a tough day.

  10. aloha andrea,

    you have alot of beautiful blooms coming from your garden today, i love both of those bulbs but especially the blood lilly, it looks like an explosion of oranges!

  11. Hi Rosie - Alium flowers are smaller than the Haemanthus, whose diameter is maybe 10 inches. Aliums do not seed here in the tropics as they need a special temperature to bloom. We either import our seeds or use the bulblets for planting.

    The Haemanthus and Hipeastrum look beautiful in hedges. Thanks for your appreciation and kind words.

  12. Bangchik,
    Flower Lady,
    Phil of Greenfingers,

    Thank you so much. Happy gardening!

    Florida Girl - i wish you can see more bulbs there, if only you can come over i will give you lots of them, LOL.

    Kathleen - it is exciting to experiment. I think it is so hardy for your area. Now i am doing some experimenting to have my first bloom inside my condominium ahead of the rains which will trigger blooming in the natural way in our garden.

  13. Very beautiful, especially love the ball shape of blooming of blood lily. These two kinds should be suitable for Florida as well, wonder why I have not seen any... Thanks for sharing!

  14. Thank you for stopping by my blog and for you kind comments. Looks like you have some great pictures of incredibly beautiful flowers here. I'm a terrible gardener, but I make an attempt every year and occasionally I get lucky.

  15. Hello Andrea! I like that Blood Lily. Its pom pom flower shape is so unique. The red lily that I have is the very Christmas looking one... bright red. I must agree with you that the bulbs multiplies pretty fast. But for one bulb to grow flower is slow. So I am happy to see flowers here. Thanks for sharing your wonderful blooms. Enjoy your garden and have a great day!

  16. The flowwers are lovely. Like Stephanie, the flowers of the blood lily reminds me of the pom pom cheer leaders. The colour is so vibrant.

  17. PS: I was just reading about blood lily and found out that the plant is used in the practise of black magic in South Africa where the juice is poured into the eyes of participants during initiation ceremony.

  18. Ami - thanks for stopping by, i am sure it is adapted to Florida climate, if only you are nearer i can give you some.

    Colleen - i am inviting you to see my older posts, i assure you they are much beautiful than the newest post. I am just posting this for being handy. thanks also for the kind comments.

  19. Autumn Belle - much thanks and i am really very happy for you! You know what i mean.

    Stephanie - thanks for the information. That sounds really aweful. Maybe the juice will make the eyes red and demonic looking, and maybe those eyes will not be able to see again. LOL.

  20. I have seen lilies planted as a hedge, but I have not seen such beautiful ones! It is great to see the lovely flowers that bloom on the other side of the world. Thanks for visiting my own blog and for your kind comment. I look forward to learning more about gardens in the Philippines.

  21. I love the blood lilies! I grow them here in north florida and they do very well here. I think I like the foliage as much as the flowers!

  22. Hi Andrea, what a profusion of (bulb) blooms! They're gorgeous! I can well understand about not giving these and other prolific bloomers the respect they deserve. But blogging and seeing pictures like these make me look at them in a new light!:-)

    The red lilies are about to bloom here too but I just have a few. A border...hmmm, I've got plans....!

  23. That blood lily is gorgeous! It reminded me very much of an allium, as Rosie of leavesnbloom mentioned above, except that I've never seen an allium with anything but a purple or blue or white flowerhead. Beautiful!

  24. I can relate what you mean by throwing away those blubs. It happens when there are too many of them and they seemed not to flower very often.
    Or perhaps - never as they only flower once after many years.
    Probably thats why many gardeners in my area would find these blubs in bins or thrown and cast out.
    Regardless, they are a pretty bloom to admire.

  25. Wow! Stunning shots Andrea :):) We too have a football lily at home and have been enjoying its bloom season after season, once every yr.
    Didn't know it was harmful. Thx for sharing some valuable insights.

  26. They are both gorgeous. It is funny that they've been there forever and are hard to get rid of. I know many who would love that kind of problem in their garden-myself included!

  27. Andrea, you are right about those hardy shrubs! They get more beautiful each day :-D (when not infested with pests of course!) Have a wonderful day and happy gardening!

  28. Great pictures! A hedge of these flowers would be so stunning as I imagine glowing with the sun shining on them.

    I sent you another email about the gourd seeds. Just hit reply and we will see if I get this one….


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