Skip to main content

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.

The moral of the story? Put the dang plant where it will be happy!
Check out our Flickr and Instagram sites for pictures of plants in the right place. Find out more about right plant, right place from the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program.
For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at
The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Visit us in person, give us a call, or email us at The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible. An Equal Opportunity Institution.

4 Comments on “Right Plant, Right Place

  1. Hi – I had been lusting after blood lilies for several years (and actually read this post last year.) I was given a pass-along last summer and it died back. It came back this spring with two beautiful blooms. Now I have lots of vegetation (and new sprouts), but no blooms. Is this normal? Also, do all the new sprouts represent new bulbs? I’m thinking I should divide once, they die back – would you agree?
    Thank you! I love these and am so grateful to have received a pass-along.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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