Fire Lily Cyrtanthus elatus

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
Scarborough lily


The plant known as the flame lily has an appealing and vibrant appearance. It bears a striking cluster of tubular flowers, which are most commonly bright red, but can also be found in shades of orange or yellow. These flowers often have a slight bend to them, resembling trumpets, and they emerge from the top of the stalk, which adds a dramatic flair to its look. The blooms are particularly eye-catching due to the contrast they create with the green foliage. The flame lily's leaves are strap-shaped with a glossy texture that can have a leathery feel. It's important to note that while being ornamental, this plant is known for its resilience and the ease with which it can be cultivated, often prized in gardens for its fiery, lively coloring and graceful form.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Vallota, Scarborough Lily, Fire Lily, George Lily, August Lily, Winter Lily.

    • Common names

      Vallota speciosa, Cyrtanthus purpureus, Cyrtanthus speciosus, Cyrtanthus angustifolius, Vallota purpurea, Vallota miniata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Cyrtanthus elatus, commonly known as the fire lily, is not widely considered to be toxic to humans. There is little evidence or documented cases of toxicity resulting from ingestion of this plant by humans. Therefore, no specific symptoms or consequences of poisoning can be provided with certainty. However, as with many plants, individual reactions can vary and it is generally advisable to avoid ingesting plants not known to be safe.

    • To pets

      The fire lily, or Cyrtanthus elatus, is also not documented to be a major toxic threat to pets such as cats and dogs. There is a lack of evidence indicating significant toxicity in pets following ingestion of this particular plant. Nonetheless, it is typically recommended to prevent pets from eating ornamental plants as they may cause gastrointestinal upset or other unpredictable reactions in some animals.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Spread

      0.5-1 feet (15-30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      South Africa


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal - Cyrtanthus elatus, commonly known as the Fire Lily, adds vibrant color and exotic beauty to gardens with its striking red flowers.
    • Attracts Wildlife - The plant's blooms can attract pollinators such as birds and butterflies, enhancing biodiversity in the area.
    • Easy to Grow - Fire Lilies are known for being low maintenance and easy to care for, making them suitable for gardeners of all skill levels.
    • Container Gardening - They are well-suited for container gardening, allowing people with limited space to enjoy their beauty.
    • Drought Tolerant - Once established, Cyrtanthus elatus is relatively drought-tolerant, making it ideal for water-conserving landscapes.
    • Seasonal Interest - With its seasonal blooms, the Fire Lily provides periodic interest throughout its flowering season.
    • Cut Flowers - The flowers of the Fire Lily can be used in cut flower arrangements, adding a touch of elegance to home décor.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Cyrtanthus elatus, commonly known as the Fire Lily, can be used as a natural pest repellent when its bulbs are crushed and applied to areas where pests are problematic.
    • Its striking flowers can serve as an all-natural dye for fabrics, providing a range of red and orange hues.
    • Bulb extracts can be added to water to create an organic, floral-scented room freshener.
    • The plant's sturdy stems can be incorporated into floral art and structural garden designs, due to their ability to maintain shape.
    • Fire Lily can be used as an educational tool in botany and horticulture classes to demonstrate plant propagation through offsets.
    • The robust nature of the Fire Lily makes it useful in erosion control on steep slopes and banks in gardens and landscaping projects.
    • The vibrant flowers can be utilized in the craft of potpourri, adding color and a mild scent to the mixture.
    • Its attractive appearance makes it a natural choice for themed gardens, such as fire or volcano-inspired landscapes.
    • The residual plant materials, such as leaves and stems after flowering, can be composted to create a nutrient-rich soil conditioner.
    • Fire Lily can be part of a butterfly garden as its bright flowers attract pollinators, supporting local biodiversity.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Cyrtanthus elatus, commonly known as the Fire Lily, is not traditionally used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Fire Lily is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: Also known as the 'Scarborough Lily', the Cyrtanthus elatus is renowned for its ability to thrive and bloom even in challenging conditions, symbolizing the human capacity to endure and flourish despite adversity.
    • Vibrance: The striking, bright red flowers of the Scarborough Lily represent vibrancy and passion, often associated with strong emotions and an energetic presence.
    • Rarity: Since the Scarborough Lily is not as common as other garden plants, it is sometimes used to symbolize uniqueness or a rare beauty that stands out from the ordinary.
    • Luxury: Owing to its exotic and ornamental appearance, the Scarborough Lily can be symbolic of opulence or a taste for the finer things in life.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    For the Scarlet Flame Lily, water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to the touch, approximately once a week. Ensure that the plant receives about 16 ounces of water at each watering, allowing the water to reach the root zone without leaving the soil waterlogged. During the growing season, the Scarlet Flame Lily may require more frequent watering; however, it is essential to reduce watering in the dormant winter months. Always provide water at the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage to prevent fungal diseases.

  • sunLight

    Scarlet Flame Lily thrives best in bright, indirect sunlight. A spot near a south or west-facing window that receives several hours of sunlight followed by partial shade would be ideal. Avoid direct intense afternoon sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves of the plant. The plant can tolerate some direct morning sun, which is gentler and less detrimental to the foliage.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Scarlet Flame Lily prefers a warm environment with temperatures ranging between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant can tolerate a minimum temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit but should not be subjected to temperatures below this threshold as it can be damaging. Ensure that the plant is kept away from drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations to maintain consistent optimal growth conditions.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune the Scarlet Flame Lily to remove spent flowers and any yellowing leaves to encourage new growth and maintain a tidy appearance. Pruning is best done after the flowering period, typically in late summer or fall. Cut back the foliage by about one-third every two or three years to rejuvenate the plant. The best time for this heavier pruning is immediately after flowering when the plant begins to go dormant.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for the flame lily is a well-draining mix such as one part perlite, one part loam, and two parts peat. This plant prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH, ideally between 6.0 and 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Flame lilies should be repotted every two to three years as they outgrow their pots or when the soil becomes compacted and nutrients are exhausted.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Flame lilies thrive in moderate to high humidity, ideally between 40% to 60%.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light and keep soil moderately moist.

    • Outdoor

      Ensure partial shade and protect from cold; mulch to retain moisture.

    • Hardiness zone

      9-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Cyrtanthus elatus, commonly known as the Scarborough lily, begins its life as a seed that germinates in well-draining soil with adequate warmth and moisture. The seedling emerges with a single leaf and develops a bulb as it matures, which serves as a storage organ for nutrients. Over time, the plant produces a rosette of strappy, evergreen leaves and then enters a period of vegetative growth where the bulb gathers and stores energy. Once mature enough, typically in late summer to autumn, the plant sends up a flower stalk bearing a cluster of tubular red, orange, or yellow flowers, attracting pollinators and resulting in the production of seeds if pollination occurs. After flowering, energy is redirected back to the bulb for the next growth cycle. In some climates, the Scarborough lily may enter a dormancy period during colder temperatures, resuming growth with the return of favorable conditions.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The most popular method for propagating Cyrtanthus elatus, also known as the fire lily, is by division of its bulbs. The best time to do this is after the plant has finished flowering and has begun to go dormant. Carefully dig up the clump of bulbs and gently separate them by hand or using a knife if necessary. Each division should have at least one growth point or shoot. The separated bulbs can then be replanted immediately in well-draining soil at a depth of about 5 to 6 inches (approximately 12.7 to 15.2 centimeters). Water the newly planted bulbs sparingly until new growth indicates they have established. This method is effective because each bulb is already a mature, energy-storing structure that can readily produce a new fire lily plant.