Right Plant, Right Place
The first time I saw blood lilies, Scadoxus multiflorus, I nearly drove off the road. They were living in pots under an oak tree in a very poor section of one of the poorer towns in southern central Florida, and they were magnificent. There must have been fifty of them blooming in that otherwise barren yard. Now, the oak tree took up the entire front yard of the old, wooden house, and since oak roots are insatiable, it made perfect sense that the bulbs were in pots. I waved hello to the elderly lady sitting on the porch, and drove on, lily lust in my heart. Eventually, I finally got my mitts on an actual blood lily bulb. (If you don’t have a generous neighbor, check out feed stores and local nurseries for this traditional pass-along plant). I took that baby home and plopped it into a nice, cozy flowerbed in the sunny front of my house. Where it came up, bloomed, and died. Hmmm . . . However, as a Master Gardener, I’m convinced I can grow everything, so the next year, I got another one, and this time did some research and learned that blood lilies prefer dry shade (oops). So I planted it under an oak tree, where it came up, bloomed, and disappeared. Okay, I thought, itll be dormant for a while, and then make leaves. (The flower stalks do come up before the leaves.) The next year, when no leaves had appeared, I got another blood lily. THIS time, I put it in a pot, put the pot under the oak tree, and watched it carefully. It bloomed, and after a while a bunch of pretty, green leaves came up, aaand . . . grasshoppers ate the leaves. (That time, I got there before the leaves vanished.) Now for a short digression about grasshopper control. Its pointless to spray them because they just fly away (or hop, if they’re lubbers). However, they are grabbable if you’re quick (an insect net comes in handy, here), and a couple of weeks in the freezer will resolve any lingering grasshopper issues. Very small grasshoppers can be squished with gloved fingers, but the big ones –ew!For those who are athletic, the brisk application of a shoe sole will also work. What about the blood lilies? About every three years I divide them, leaving one plant per pot, and I can tell you that’s why the lilies in that central Florida front yard were in plastic pots, old buckets, wash tubs, and any other thing that holds dirt. It turns out that they multiply like crazy! You only need to start with one to end up with a passel of flowers. They also appreciate a nice oak-leaf mulch over the winter.