Haemanthus is a flower that can often be seen on the windowsills of houses, however, few know the “official” name of this tropical culture. In the people it is often called deer tongue or elephant ear. In this houseplant, everything declares non-standard. Everyday home care for this baby is not burdensome, the varietal line is rich, and the fluffy inflorescence is amazing and unusual. Despite the original forms and details, even beginners can take up the cultivation of “deer tongue”. If you know how to care for a Haemanthus, and this is not at all difficult, then everything will be simple with him.
General description with photo
Haemanthus is a bulbous plant from the Amaryllis family. Despite the fact that the name implies a red color (literally – a bloody flower), there are also varieties with white inflorescences. In general, the species diversity is quite high. Among Haemanthus there are evergreen perennials, and representatives of the genus with a pronounced dormant period, accompanied by loss of foliage. The former are more preferable for indoor gardening, since they retain their decorative effect all year round and are more undemanding in care, in particular regarding wintering.
The variety largely determines the external characteristics of the umbrella-type flower. For example, Katarina’s Haemanthus has a rather high pseudostem, up to 15 cm, on which leaves are elongated and slightly wavy along the edge. Next to it, the plant shoots an arrow-peduncle, on which a red bud is formed. The white-flowered variety has wider and smoother leaves with a slight pubescence along the edges. The flower is white, denser, and the peduncle is shorter and thicker. Yellow anthers give the flower a dramatic effect, giving the impression of yellow powder sprinkled over the top.
Flowering time is the second half of summer. In September, in place of flowers, fruits are tied, which ripen by the beginning of winter. When ripe, they turn red, in which case viable seeds can be obtained from them, which, however, quickly lose their germination.
The plant has a significant drawback – during the period of active release of pollen and nectar, they begin to emit an unpleasant odor.
Types of Haemanthus with a photo
Modern biologists have made changes to the systematization of this plant, combining some of its species and bringing them into a separate genus, called Scadoxus. This caused some confusion in floriculture, so today this flower can be found under both names.
It is the most famous representative of the genus, which received the above folk names. This is an evergreen species with high decorative properties. The leaves are wide, muted green, glossy in the center and pubescent with sparse cilia along the edges. Powerful peduncles grow simultaneously with them, at the end of them an umbrella bud opens with very thin stamens and anthers with golden tips. On specialized shelves you can see both the basic variety and numerous variety series and hybrids. The main work of breeders was aimed at increasing the size of spherical buds and their decorative effect. Especially popular today is the variety “Prince Albert” with large orange flowers of saturated color and almost twice the size of the base species.
New Haemanthus hybrids appear frequently and in large numbers, the names of many of them do not tell the consumer anything, so when choosing, you can focus on the description, color and size of the inflorescences.
The species described below refer to plants with winter dormancy, shedding foliage, which is why they are less common as indoor flowers. But they also have their own attractive features that deserve attention.
Haemanthus (skadoxus) pomegranate
The leaves are glossy, leathery, wavy. The balls of inflorescences have a carmine, pomegranate color and very impressive sizes – up to 10 cm in diameter.
The foliage is less developed than in other species, the leaf plates are oval, the peduncle is long, the flowers are red. The main advantage is early flowering, it can open buds as early as April.
Leaf blades have pronounced venation. Peduncles are characteristically tall and thinner than in wintering species, pink or red flowers, large.
A large and very showy species, the leaves of which can grow up to 45 cm. At the very base, dark brown spots are clearly visible on them. The arrows carrying the buds are shortened, the flowers themselves are large, in red tones.
Thin elongated leaves sit on the same long, up to 15 cm, pseudostem. A special effect is given to the plant by huge, up to 2 dm spherical inflorescences of saturated red color. It belongs to late-flowering species, you can see it in all its glory only at the end of summer.
This species can often be found as a garden crop in the southern regions. Differs in long two-row leaves, folded along the central vein, on the same long false petioles. The peduncle is thrown almost half a meter high. The flowers are very large, scarlet-colored.
Regardless of the type and variety, all these flowers are poisonous, so any manipulations with them should be done with gloves!
First of all, you should determine what kind of variety you have to deal with. Evergreen and deciduous Haemanthuses have slightly different care rules, especially in relation to the winter period. But in general, the requirements come down to a cool wintering and a balance of moisture without stagnation in a flower pot.
In general, the culture is photophilous due to its natural growth, but, like many other indoor bulbs, it does not tolerate direct exposure to the midday sun. At the same time, if the location does not have sufficient lighting, the Haemanthus may not bloom. Direct sunlight is dangerous not only with burns, due to their impact, a gradual death of the foliage is observed. First, the tips of the leaves turn pale and wither, then the process spreads to the entire leaf plate. Eastern and western window sills will be the best solution. Also, the problem can be solved with the help of a sheet of transparent tracing paper pasted on the south window.
Indoor specimens can be taken out into the street in the warm season, hemantus love fresh air (not drafts!). They can serve as a decoration for balconies, summer terraces, garden plots. But at the same time, two important requirements must be observed – the flowers must be well protected from natural precipitation and direct midday rays. Cold air currents will not do them any good either.
Temperature regime and wintering
Room conditions are excellent for the “deer tongue” throughout the entire active growing season, and starting from late autumn, conditions should be created for it with a cooler temperature, optimally within + 10 … + 15C. This is especially true for species shedding leaves for the winter. For almost all bulbs, cold winter maintenance is the key to forcing flower stalks, its decisive factor. Accordingly, watering is reduced and top dressing is stopped, however, the temperature requirements remain the most important, and it is impossible to compensate for the warm content with the watering regime and other parameters. Caring for the white-flowered Haemanthus in winter does not impose such categorical requirements, but also requires a decrease in temperature.
Watering and humidity
The plant requires very discreet watering, which minimizes the worries of growing it. It does not tolerate stagnant water, it affects its root system more detrimentally than a partial lack of moisture. The signal for watering is the drying up of not only the upper, but also the middle layer of the soil, but in general, you need to look at the condition of the flower, since other indoor factors also matter. For Haemanthus with a winter dormant period, as soon as the process of leaf shedding begins, it is necessary to limit moisture, leaving it at a meager maintenance level. Water throughout the year is used soft and separated from chlorine.
Humidity is not of great importance, it is not necessary to maintain it at a high level. Central heating radiators in this respect are not critical for him, unless they raise the temperature to an unacceptably high level.
Haemanthuses are very fond of cleanliness. Regular dusting of the leaves with a damp sponge greatly improves their well-being.
You need to feed the plant very restrainedly, it does not need shock doses of fertilizers. Recommendations of manufacturers of mineral complexes can be safely halved. Throughout the year, there are two periods when top dressing stops completely:
- from the initial moment of forcing the peduncle until the time when the shoots grow at least 10 cm in length.
- from the end of flowering until the beginning of spring, when the plant begins to awaken.
Otherwise, 1-2 times a month will be enough. The culture is responsive to organic matter and universal complexes of minerals for bulbous plants.
When buying ready-made plants, be sure to check the previous growing conditions, since the developed habits largely determine the further development of the specimen.
All bulbs at a young age require an annual transplant, subsequently the procedure can be performed every 2, maximum 3 years, but provided that the roots do not occupy the entire space of the pot. Buying pots for growth is also not recommended, because cramped conditions stimulate flowering. Transplantation is carried out in February-March. When planting, the bulb does not sink completely, about 1/3 of it should remain above ground level. Therefore, preference should be given to sufficiently wide and shallow bowls. Be sure to take care of good drainage.
The soil should be light, permeable and nutritious. When choosing ready-made soil mixtures, it is recommended to pay attention to those that are intended for amaryllis or just for bulbs. When preparing the soil on their own, they take equal parts of different soils (turf, leaf and from a greenhouse) and add (optionally) bone meal and high-moor peat to them.
Getting new plants of this home flower is quite simple. Lateral processes or children almost 100% take root and give flowering already 3-4 years after planting. But you should not rush to separate them until the volume of young shoots becomes visually excessive for the plant.
The seed method of reproduction is also possible, both purchased and collected by the seed itself. In this case, it is impossible to delay with the sowing of the collected seeds, since they quickly lose their germination capacity. Germination of seeds before planting is a must. Further care is carried out in the traditional way. In this case, you can expect the first flowering in 5-7 years.
Quite promising is the method of leaf cuttings. For this, old and fleshy leaves are selected from below, the pseudo-cuttings of which go to the bottom of the bulb. The leaf is cut into pieces, the sections are processed and dried, it is recommended to treat their lower part with Kornevin. Rooting occurs in a wet sandy-peat substrate. Transplantation can be carried out after the formation of young bulbs. The first flowers will appear in 3-4 years.
Pests and diseases
If the conditions are too hot and dry, the pest resistance of the Haemanthus is sharply reduced. The most common of them are scale insects and spider mites (usually red), attacks by aphids and thrips occur less frequently. If possible, insects are removed from the plant mechanically, after which it is well washed with soapy water and treated with an insecticide with a repeat recommended for them by the manufacturer.
Of the diseases, gray rot is dangerous, which develops due to waterlogging. Manifested by the appearance of necrotic spots. In this case, fungicide treatment can be effective only at a very early stage; in more advanced cases, the flower will have to be destroyed.
Why doesn’t Haemanthus bloom?
The most common reason is the lack of a dormant period, the plant did not rest and did not gain strength for flowering. You can spoil the rest of the Haemanthus by top dressing or excessive watering, but most of all, by keeping it in a room that is too warm. For non-evergreen species, it may be practicable to dig up the bulb in the winter and keep it in slightly damp sawdust in a dark, cool place, such as a cold pantry or cellar. In addition, the reason for the lack of flowering may be too spacious a pot.