Alan O'Leary - An overview of the Haemanthus species

Alan O'Leary. An overview of the Haemanthus species

Haemanthus are a small part of the Amaryllidaceae family, and consist of 22 species widespread throughout South Africa. Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Why grow Haemanthus?

  • They have dense, showy flower heads with colourful bracts.
  • A wide variation in leaf form and texture
  • Attractive ripe berries.
  • Most are easy to grow.
  • Easy to propagate from seed or offsets.
  • Make hybrids between species.


  • Amongst thew first Southern African plants taken to Europe for cultivation. 1600's
  • Early settlers sailing enroute to Australia bought bulbs in Cape Town, eg Haemanthus cocineus, Brunsvigia Josephinae


Growth Cycles
(What grows when)

  • Winter growing (Mediterranean climate)
  • Summer growing
  • Evergreen

Winter growing species

Evergreen species

And now, the Evergreen Species

  • Only three species
  • They're all shade lovers
  • Water in summer
  • Flowers in April-May-June
  • Dryish winter rest
  • Grow well in Adelaide

Summer growing species

And finally, Summer rainfall species

  • Only two species
  • Flower and produce new leaves early summer
  • 50% shade
  • Top third of the bulb exposed
  • They like to be pot bound
  • Keep on the dry side in winter

Various hybrids

So here's a few hybrids to add, however, a final word for beginners…

the best species to start with are…

  • Haemanthus coccineus
  • Haemanthus albiflos
  • Haemanthus humilis
  • Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus hybrids