Veltheimia bracteata

Common Name: forest lily 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: South Africa
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: December to March
Bloom Description: Pinkish purple
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy


This is a winter-flowering bulb that is best grown in large tubs or containers (not smaller than 6” across). In St. Louis, 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. 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. Provide consistent moisture during the bloom period. After bloom, reduce moisture as the foliage dies back. Plants go dormant in summer.

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. In winter to early spring, pinkish-purple (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. 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. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants


Houseplant or greenhouse plant.