Bush lily is a flowering herbaceous plant. A fan-like construction, strap-shaped leaves (oppositely arranged) arise from an underground stem. They are sometimes serrated, sometimes notched at the tip. A stem pushes through the foliage-bearing clusters of pendant clusters of flowers. They are funnel-shaped, red with tips of yellow and green. In all, 40 to 60 flowers will open, a fantastic floral display that lasts weeks. Marble-sized berries follow flowers, taking nine months to ripen. They contain 1 to 2 seeds per fruit.
The bush lily is much slower growing than its ‘cousin’ Clivia miniata, taking up to 6 years to flower. However, for a while in England, the bush lily was THE botanical craze. Every collector had to have it…until C. miniata came into cultivation and gained popularity. Enjoying a ‘comeback,’ bush lily was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
A perfect plant for shade gardens, the leaves grow upright in shaded conditions, horizontal in higher light conditions. The shallow root system tends to erode, add a layer of mulch, and compost every year. It requires little water. Pests are slugs and snails attacking new growth.
Bush lily is listed as vulnerable in the wild. Populations have declined 30% over the last 120 years due to harvesting for medicinal, magical, and horticultural purposes. Development and loss of habitat have also led to population decline. Native to the Eastern Cape Province area of South Africa, bush lily grows from sea level to 900 feet. Near the ocean, it thrives in sandy soil with rocky outcrops under the cover of bush vegetation. Further upland it is found in the understory of evergreen forests near river banks.
- Container plant
- Cut flower
- Indoor plant
- Toxic to animals and humans
High Risk Traits:
- Able to grow in regions with subtropical climates
- Naturalized in Spain and possibly elsewhere
- All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested
- Reproduces by seeds and vegetatively by rhizomes and suckers
- Seeds dispersed by birds and intentionally by people
- Resprouts after fire and possibly cutting
Low Risk Traits:
- Despite naturalization, no negative impacts documented in introduced range
- Unarmed (no spines, thorns or burrs)
- Predominantly self-incompatible