Perennial; Bulb; Water plant
Scarlet River Lily
red; pink; February to April; summer autumn
damp sun; water; wildlife flies insects butterflies
thicket; Highveld; subtropical east coast; bushveld savanna;
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Hesperantha coccinea, the Scarlet River Lily, ranges in colour from scarlet to pink and is one of the most beautiful and easily grown flowers for garden water features. It has tall strappy leaves, an identifying feature of the Iris family, growing up to 50 cm tall. The Scarlet River Lily enjoys wet feet, does well in semi-shade to full sun, and large clumps can be seen leaning gracefully over the edges of stream banks at higher altitudes (900 – 1675 m). Flowers appear from February to April, each 6-petelled flower about 65 mm in diameter, with 6 to 14 inflorescences per stem. Flowers are pollinated by the Mountain Pride Butterfly and long-proboscis fly. The frost hardy Scarlet River-lily is an attractive garden plant and cut-flower throughout the UK and Europe. The river lily Hesperantha coccinea is a species from the summer rainfall area and is widely distributed through the eastern provinces of the country. The species name coccinea means 'scarlet' and refers to the bright red flowers produced by this species though colour is dependent on the area in which it grows, and pink and white forms occur in many regions. Until fairly recently this species was known by its old name Schizostylis coccinea. The river lily is fast growing and can be propagated easily from seed or by splitting the clumps. Seeds can be sown during the early months of spring from late August until early November, sown directly in the flower bed or in seed trays; keep well- watered. The best time to split and transplant plants is from January to April.