Veltheimia bracteata

Common Name: forest lily 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: South Africa
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: December to March
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in evenly moist, well-draining, humusy loams in part shade. Hardy in Zones 9-11. Tolerant of light frost, but it is best to provide a sheltered planting location with overhead canopy cover to further protect plants from frost damage. Avoid excess irrigation when plants are dormant in summer. Where not winter hardy, plant bulbs in late summer (August – September) in containers with a peaty, well-drained soil mixture. Bulbs should be planted shallowly with the tips exposed in large tubs or containers (not smaller than 6” across. Place container in a cool location with minimal watering and light until growth begins. Then place containers in a bright window area with filtered sun. Fertilize and provide consistent moisture during the winter growth and bloom period. After bloom, reduce moisture as the foliage dies back. Plants go dormant in summer. Repot and divide offsets when dormant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Veltheimia bracteata is commonly called forest lily or cape lily in reference to its native habitat in forested and coastal scrub areas of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Each bulb produces a fountain-like basal rosette of broadly strap-shaped glossy green leaves with wavy margins. The leaves can be evergreen in certain climates. In winter to early spring, pink (less frequently greenish-yellow) drooping tubular flowers bloom in dense elongated spikes atop reddish flowering stems rising to 15-24” tall. Flower appearance is suggestive of kniphofia, which has given rise to an additional common name of winter red-hot poker. Attractive to hummingbirds. Synonymous with and formerly called Veltheimia viridifolia.

Genus name honors August Ferdinand von Veltheim (1741-1801) of Brunswick, German patron of botany.

Specific epithet means having bracts.


No serious insect or disease problems. Poorly drained and overly moist soils will lead to rot.


Accent planting or mass in shade gardens and shady borders. Houseplant or greenhouse plant where not hardy.