Haemanthus: Greenhouse Plants
C – cool, minimum of 7°C (45°F) / W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
Family: Amaryllidaceae S and Tropical Africa
I think this is a splendid group of bulbous plants although they are a little hard to come by. Haemanthus albiflos, an evergreen species which forms a good clump of bulbs, is perhaps the most widely grown. It has flowers which by nature of their stamens look like a white paint brush dipped into yellow paint. It is supposed to flower in June but I have found that it will flower at other times. I prefer H. a. ‘Pubescens’ as the leaves are covered with soft hairs. This one flowers in winter. H. coccineus is a deciduous species which produces its naked flowers in the late summer or autumn. These also resemble paint brushes, this time dipped into red paint. When these have faded a pair of leaves or sometimes more is produced from each bulb; these are long and beautiful being up to 60 cm (2 ft) long and 20 cm (8 in) wide. These two species are both from South Africa and can grow well in a cool house. However, the only other two species which turn up regularly in cultivation are more demanding and need a warm house. H. multiflonts is a deciduous species from tropical Africa. It bears the most spectacular head of bright red flowers in spring. As this fades the leaves are produced on a short maroon spotted stem. H. katherinae from Natal is perhaps the showiest of them all. It is almost deciduous but the new growth sometimes begins before the old has completely died down. The flower head is borne at the end of a long stem and is packed with bright red flowers. As the flowers fade red fruits replace them. These contain up to four seeds each of which begins to germinate before the fruit falls off the plant. The flower stem and leaves die down at the end of winter but new shoots will take over and by the end of summer the plant is back in full growth and flower.
I grow all my Haemanthus in clay pots and in well-drained loam-basedwith plenty of sharp sand. Plants tend to flower better when slightly potbound so they do not by any means need potting every year unless you are building bulbs up to flowering size. I allow the surface of the to dry out between waterings whether they are from South or tropical Africa. Obviously deciduous species will not want more than the occasional watering while resting. It pays not to dry them out completely for a long period as their roots will die off rather than rest. This means that when they are watered properly again they do not have to grow a new root system. Seed can be sown by pressing the ripe berries into seed compost. They should not be covered and kept at 18°C (65°F).