Hesperantha (Schizostylis)


Useful, autumn flowering, semi-evergreen bulbous perennials. Ideal for a sunny sheltered site in a moist border or near water.

Family: Iridaceae (iris family)
Botanical Name: Hesperantha / Schizostylis (ski-zo-sti-lis)
Common Names: Kaffir lily, crimson flag lily, scarlet river lily

Foliage: Narrow erect, sword-shaped leaves. Semi-evergreen except in very cold winters.

Flowers: Spikes of six petalled, crocus-shaped flowers, in shades of red and pink.

Flowering Period: Late summer to late autumn (September to November)

Soil: Moist fertile soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun. Best planted in a south facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Clump forming.

Type: Rhizomatous perennial.

Origin: South Africa.

Hardiness: Hardy in warm and coastal regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Hesperantha

Thrives in full sun or light shade, in a rich moisture-retentive soil. Shelter from cold drying winds.

A good choice for adding late-summer colour to herbaceous or mixed borders or by water.

Long lasting as a cut flower in water.

Taking Care of Hesperantha

Water copiously in dry weather. Cut down any untidy growth in winter.

Mulch with organic matter in spring.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest free. Botrytis can affect leaves and buds.

Propagating Hesperantha

Divide established plants every three years or so in the spring.

Varieties of Hesperantha

Rhizomes can be purchased for spring planting but it is more usual to buy pot grown plants.

Hesperantha (Schizostylis) coccinea is the main species sold in the UK which bears spikes of red or pink flowers in succession from early autumn to early winter. Height to 2-3ft (60-90m), spread 1ft (30cm) or more. Popular varieties include:

  • Mrs Hegarty early flowering pale-pink flowers.
  • Viscountess Byng late flowering pink flowers.
  • Sunrise large salmon-pink flowers.
  • Major large deep-pink/red flowers.
  • November Cheer shell pink flowers.