Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Gloriosa Superba : Flame Lily / Gloriosa Lily

What an incredible exotic bloom, for the second season in a row the Gloriosa has prevailed and provided a real showstopping performance. Potted in a slightly peaty mix, once moistened the Gloriosa lily’s thirst is easily satisfied. After the foliage dies down in the autumn I overwinter it in a frost free, relatively dry location. It can tolerate some moisture at this point but it is essential it doesn’t sit in the cold and the wet. It’s dormancy is longer than you might expect but once it pops up, it grows quickly. This year mine sprouted sometime in June and had flowers opening at the start of August. From there a succession of flowers, unfurling in the strangest way. The buds transform from green to red and as they age their colors intensify. If your in luck a pod will form and reward you a treasure of brightly colored seeds. Gloriosa superba is native to Africa and Asia and charms whoever crosses it’s path. Thoughts & Notes: The plant should be considered quite poisonous and caution should be taken when handling it’s fruits / leaves and/or tubers. DO NOT EAT! Propagate from seed or by dividing the tubers. Seeds have a dormancy that has been known to take a while (I’m still waiting).  Tubers are delicate, be careful. The freshly sprouted shoots in the spring are a delicacy to slugs and should be placed somewhere out of their reach. I lost two out of 3 potted specimens, the tubers didn’t recover from the grazing. Once shoots appear in early summer, provide a trellis, they need support. Most of all. Enjoy the show!

6 Responses to Plant Profile 360: Gloriosa superba

  • Vijay says:

    Hello everybody. Gloriosa Superba lives up to its name. but its also TOXIC. See Wikipedia. used in traditional medicine but unsupervised use/ingestion can be fatal to humans and animals. Be Warned. 🙁

  • Keith says:

    I too grow this in a totally unsuitable climate, and think that it’s well worth the effort!

    So much so that I now have a couple of seed grown yellow plants coming along and have just sown seed for the orange variety too.

    As far as winter care goes I store mine completely dry under the stairs.

  • Hoov says:

    I’ve always wanted to try that, and haven’t yet gotten to it–here it is supposed to be easy. You’ve grown it and photographed it beautifully!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.