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A picture of a White Paintbrush

White Paintbrush

Haemanthus albiflos

Also known as

White Blood Lily, Elephant's Tongue, Poeierkwas, Witpoeierkwas (Afr.), Uzaneke (Zulu), Umathunga (Xhosa)

Photo by Shani (All rights reserved)

Full Shade
Easy care
Light watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size








3 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

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A photo of White Paintbrush
A photo of White Paintbrush
A photo of White Paintbrush
A photo of White Paintbrush
A photo of White Paintbrush

White Paintbrush Overview

Haemanthus albiflos is a bulbous, evergreen perennial plant from the Amaryllidaceae family. It is commonly known by the names White Paintbrush and White Blood Lily, amongst others. This species produces shaving brush-like flowers which are greenish-white and produced in the summer. The large paired leaves are evergreen and leathery with fine hairs along their edge, The plant will grow to a height of 30cm. This is a fascinating species as it has large handsome, thick​ leaves with an unusual flower in the shape of a large paintbrush and red berries as fruit. This species is an endemic plant to Southern Africa. With its long flowering season makes this species a must-have in any temperate garden. As it is easy to grow and does not mind neglect, this plant is perfect for any amateur gardener to plant. Grow in dappled, bright light, this plant takes some time to establish. The bulbs should be partially buried, with their tops exposed to allow the roots to spread across the ground surface. Plant in well-draining, airy soil for best results. It may be grown in a container and suits growing indoors as a houseplant. ZA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape.

Common problems with White Paintbrush

Pests include the lily borer, and mealybugs. Diseases include soft rot, and anthracnose.

How to harvest White Paintbrush

A good indicator to harvest your Haemanthus seeds is​ when they are red, soft and ripe.

How to propagate White Paintbrush


Sow seeds when they are bright red and soft, into a sandy mixture at a depth of 1 mm into the soil leaving it partially exposed. Space them 20 cm apart. Be patient as it takes a long time for germination to take place.


Divide the large clumps every 5 to 6 years, collect and plant the offsets with their necks above the soil line, and space them 20 cm apart.

Special features of White Paintbrush

Attracts useful insects

This species attracts beneficial pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths.

Attracts birds

Nectar drinking sunbirds.

Indoor plant

A very successful indoor plant where it is too tender to be grown outdoors, and thrives on "healthy neglect". It prefers not to be in full sun, and is tolerant of under-watering.

Pot plant

Great potted plant for outdoors in dappled light and indoor plant with bright indirect light. Pots need not be deep as the roots spread out horizontally.

Drought resistant

Very tolerant of under-watering.

Attracts butterflies

Attracts bees

Other uses of White Paintbrush


Used in traditional medicine to treat chronic coughs.


Can be grown outdoors or indoors in pots or in the soil.

Other uses



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