A Flower for Shade: Bush Lily

Bush lilyA lot of balcony gardens don’t get the sun that’s necessary for the more popular flowers and high-light vegetables. But that doesn’t mean flowers can’t be kept on these balconies. Shade-loving plants also produce flowers. A great shade-loving container plant is the bush lily (aka kaffir lily), which has orange, red or yellow flowers that resemble geranium flowers. This flower from southern Africa can grow to about 18 inches tall and live for more than 20 years.


Just like with many container plants you purchase at your local garden shop, you may find that your bush lily is completely root-bound. The bush lily flower's roots are large (as it is a large plant) and will often be root-bound in a smaller plant container. The bush lily plant pictured had been growing in a small container with hardly any dirt, yet it still had beautiful foliage. Its roots had started growing upward because there was no more room. It can be tough getting a root-bound plant out of its without cutting the container away.

Water the bush lily plant well during the spring and summer, when it may surprise you with a beautiful flower offshoot. In autumn and winter, you can water it a bit less. If your bush lily plant is doing well and you want to propagate it, you can cut the plant in half, divide its rhizomes, or cut offsets with a sharp tool. (An offset or divided lant will not flower for several seasons after propagation.) You can also collect seeds from the bush lily’s flowers, but if you grow this plant from seed, the offspring’s flowers may be a different color from the parent’s flowers. It may skip a flowering season or two, but don’t worry. The bush lily plant should bloom eventually.

If you have a sunny balcony and still want to try this plant, it should do well indoors out of the direct sun.

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