Haemanthus albiflos

White Paintbrush, White Blood Lily, Elephant's Tongue

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This is a fascinating species as it has large handsome, thick​ leaves with an unusual flower in the shape of a large paintbrush and red berries as fruit. This species is an endemic species to Southern Africa with its long flowering season makes this species a must have in any temperate garden. As it is easy to grow and does not mind neglect this plant is perfect for any amateur gardener to plant. ZA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape.
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Flowering time

Autumn, Winter

Fruiting time

Winter, Spring


A good indicator to harvest your Haemanthus seeds is​ when they are red, soft and ripe.



Sow seeds when they are bright red and soft, into a sandy mixture at a depth of 1 mm into the soil leaving it partially exposed. Space them 20 cm apart. Be patient as it takes a long time for germination to take place.


Divide the large clumps every 5 to 6 years, collect and plant the offsets with their necks above the soil line, and space them 20 cm apart.

Special features

Attracts useful insects

This species attracts beneficial pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths.

Attracts birds

Nectar drinking sunbirds.

Indoor plant

A very successful indoor plant where it is too tender to be grown outdoors, and thrives on "healthy neglect". It prefers not to be in full sun, and is tolerant of under-watering.

Pot plant

Great potted plant for outdoors in dappled light and indoor plant with bright indirect light. Pots need not be deep as the roots spread out horizontally.

Drought resistant

Very tolerant of under-watering.

Attracts butterflies

Attracts bees

Special features


Southern Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho ​and Swaziland.

Natural climate




Full Shade, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture


Soil type

Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Alkaline, Neutral, Acid

Frost hardiness




Used in traditional medicine to treat chronic coughs.


Can be grown outdoors or indoors in pots or in the soil.




Flower colour

White, Yellow




Pests include the lily borer, and mealybugs. Diseases include soft rot, and anthracnose.


profile iconHaemanthus albiflos
by Graham Duncan, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, with additions by Yvonne Reynolds, June 2002 (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

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