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Haemanthus coccineus

The spectacular Paintbrush Lily - Haemanthus coccineus - bursts forth with an unusual flower cluster that looks like a big, red shaving brush.  This exciting South African bulb is related to Amaryllis and Crinum.  The leaves alone make this plant worth growing.  The oversized, tongue-shaped leaves can reach 20 inches long and 6 inches wide, and usually have attractive red markings underneath.  The flower stems also have these beautiful markings, as you can see here.  This is a choice species that is hard to find.

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus coccineus usually grows in winter and spring, and goes dormant for the summer.  It makes a large, flattened bulb from which 2 fleshy leaves appear (occasionally 3).  The bare flower stalk emerges just before the leaves in late summer, similar to Amaryllis belladonna.  The flower stem grows 6 to 15 inches tall, and usually has reddish, leopard-spot markings along the lower half.  The scarlet-red bracts open to reveal dozens of golden anthers.  Eventually the bulb multiplies into an impressive colony of plants.  But even if you only grow a single plant in a pot, it is a real eye-opener!

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus coccineus is easy to grow if its basic needs are met.  It should be kept below about 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) from early autumn through mid-spring (October to May in the northern hemisphere).  I have read that it can handle 25 degrees F (-4 C), but i would keep it above 35 degrees F (2 C) for best growth.  During the summer dormancy, the bulb should be kept dry, and left in the soil.  It grows well in a pot in a fast-draining soil mix, such as half potting soil and half perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.  Keep the soil regularly watered (but not soggy) during the growing season.  It grows well both in full sun and in filtered sun or morning sun.  The leaves grow the largest in shadier conditions.  In warmer climates, some afternoon shade is a good idea.

Haemanthus coccineus

Haemanthus coccineus

 

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Turquoise Puya

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