Gloriosa superba

Gloriosa Lily
Gloriosa Lily

The Gloriosa Lily with its unusual waxy recurved petals is Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’ also know as the Flame Lily, and Glory Lily.

Beautiful and also poisonous, an interesting combination, it is actually the symbol of the Tamil Tigers, so if you are interested in politics, try a google search for that.

We have seen this wonderful plant labeled as easy to grow, and indeed it can be. In fact in some areas it grows like weed. However in cooler climates it can be a challenge.

Grown as a climbing ornamental and also for its cut flowers, we have even seen the flower used as the basis of a tattoo. It is from South Africa, from wet summers and dry winters, no frosts and freezes.


We go for containers with this one as it is a bit of a sulking type of plant and it really is difficult in cooler climates for us. If we lived in Florida, we would grow them outdoors.

Plant away from areas where livestock might graze as it is toxic.
It likes a cool root run and the ability to climb up into the sun.

Support is essential, and needs to be put in place before you plant as the tubers are easily damaged. Do not be tempted to split the forked tuber into two, thinking you will get more plants, it will probably rot instead.

  • A humus rich well drained but moist soil.
  • Plant the forked tuber at around 3 inches deep.
  • Plant in early spring once the frosts are over, a humus rich deep soil.
  • Water in well with a liquid seaweed fertilizer and wait until new growth appears.
  • Protect new shoots from slugs and snails.

Lifting and Dividing

As with Sandersonia and Littonia you will need to lift In areas with cold wet winters you will need to, lift the Glory Lily tubers in Fall to avoid them rotting.

  • Wait until the foliage has died completely back before attempting this.
  • If you are container growing place the container in a dry spot away from the cold and snow over winter.
  • Bring out or replant in spring. Lift and divide every 3 years and replenish the soil or potting mix with lots of well rotted compost and a little perlite to improve drainage.
  • When lifting be very gentle, dig away from the plant gently working towards the tubers so as not to damage them.

Other Info

Gloriosa Lily Bulbs are available for sale from nurseries from winter – spring