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Haemanthus deformis (Dwarf Haemanthus)


Scientific Name

Haemanthus deformis Hook.f.

Common Names

Dwarf Haemanthus, White-flowered Snake Lily, Waterlily Haemanthus


Haemanthus baurii, Haemanthus mackenii

Scientific Classification

Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Haemanthus


Haemanthus deformis is an evergreen bulbous plant with thick, fleshy roots and 2 or 4 broad, grey or greenish-grey leaves that are spreading or lie flat on the ground. The leaves are fleshy and have hairy margins. The mature plant reaches up to 4.8 inches (12 cm) high in flower and produces a single thick, bent, short, hairy flower stem in the center, between the leaf bases. The flower head consists of a dense cluster of erect, white flowers with white filaments, bright yellow anthers, and long, white, protruding styles. The flowers are enclosed by broad, strong white bracts that are distinctly recurved in the upper part. The fruit is a fleshy, dark orange berry containing a few hard, oblong seeds.


USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Paint Brush is an ideal plant for a shady rock garden or for difficult parts of the garden receiving poor light, where it can be left to multiply for many years.

It is one of the easiest of all the Haemanthus species to grow. It requires a dappled shade position and likes to remain undisturbed for many years once established. The soil must be well aerated. A suggested medium is equal parts of well-rotted compost, coarse river sand, and loam. Plant the greenish bulbs with the upper half exposed, and the thick fleshy roots spread out horizontally over the soil.

It also makes an excellent subject for plastic or terracotta containers, and these need not be deep as the roots naturally spread out horizontally. Pots of Paint Brush can be grown very successfully on a shady veranda, and it is also suitable as an indoor plant where it should be placed in a position receiving dappled light but not direct sunlight. Plants like to become pot-bound and mature bulbs flower reliably every year, and only need to be divided every 7 or 8 years when flowering performance starts to diminish. Paint Brush is not hardy and has to be grown under the protection of the cool greenhouse in countries with very cold winter conditions.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for a Paint Brush (Haemanthus albiflos).


Haemanthus deformis is native to South Africa.


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