Despite its reputation for being the home of the largest desert on Earth, Africa has 45,000 plant species, including some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic flowers.
The continent’s diverse climate includes not only desert and arid areas, but also vast regions of tropical climate and rainforest. As a result of the various conditions, several popular African flowers have made their way across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to our homes and gardens.
These varieties range from common to exotic, and all are beautiful in their own way. Let’s explore the most popular African flowers you might see stateside.
Amaryllis Belladonna / Belladonna Lily
Commonly referred to as the belladonna lily, these native African flowers are such a pretty shade of pink that the paint brand Benjamin Moore has even named a color after them!
The fragrant blooms tend to open later in the season (typically late summer or early fall), and do best when planted in soil, as opposed to pots. At the end of the flowering season, you’ll still have leaves on the stalk for ample greenery. They’re also naturally pest-resistant, so you can rely on these blooms to keep your garden looking pretty without extra chemicals.
Eucomis Comosa / Slender Pineapple Flower Plant
Given the name for both its lovely fragrance and its appearance, the eucomis comosa is one of the hardier perennial plant varieties coming out of Africa. It also has medicinal properties and is often used in traditional medicine.
The flowers bloom in clusters that take on a shape reminiscent of a slim pineapple, hence the name!
Protea Cynaroides / King Protea
With the incredible ability to survive wildfires, the king protea has earned its place as the national flower of South Africa.
During the blooming season, the large flowers form spear-shaped domes that can be 12 inches long with dark green leaves to complement the floral colors. As the leaves mature, they also grow quite large, getting to about 5.5 inches long.
If you’re looking for something that will stand out in a flower arrangement, the king protea will not disappoint.
Clivia Miniata / Yellow Bush Lily
A native of Southern Africa, this lily variety is quite possibly the world’s prettiest houseplant. The blossoms range in color from cream to orange, with instances of pale yellow flowers.
This plant may also surprise you. Though the plant blooms primarily in summer, it can also bloom again intermittently throughout the year. Ideal conditions include loamy soil, which is a blend of clay, silt soil, and sand.
One of the most popular flowers for home gardens, these blooms are perfect for colorful displays either indoors or out. African violets come in a range of colors, including red, white, and purple flowers. For best results, grow in warmer areas with soil conditions that are slightly moist.
Agapanthus Africanus / African Lily
This lily tops the list of one of the most popular and well-known South African flower species. This perennial flowering plant shines in the summer with blooms ranging from varying shades of blues to purple flowers.
Paranomus Longicaulis / Woolly Scepter Plant
Commonly nicknamed an “exploding baked apple,” this plant loves sandy soils and has a thick stem. If you look closely, the shape of the flowers resembles a bottle brush, but don’t attempt using these buds to clean any dishes!
Adenium Multiflorum / Impala Lily
This succulent shrub can grow to the height of a small tree. The flowers of the impala lily form a star shape that grows directly from the branch. As the plant grows and you repot, make sure to do so in relatively dry conditions and remove any dead roots or rotted areas.
Though impala lily flowers are beautiful, you won’t see them much of the year. The blooming season is typically in July, though it can last through mid-September in some regions.
Zantedeschia Aethiopica / Calla Lily
There’s one word to describe this lily variety – gorgeous! They are deceptively easy to grow and look beautiful as part of indoor or outdoor floral arrangements. They come in a variety of colors beyond classic white. You can also find these blooms in orange, pink, rose, yellow, lavender, and even dark maroon.
Geissorhiza Tulbaghensis / Tulbagh Satin Flower
These popular South African flowers thrive in both rock gardens and flowerpots. Because it can bloom in parts of winter, it’s a great choice for gardens that want some color in cooler months. Another advantage is how easy it is for these plants to propagate merely by spreading seeds.
If your black thumb needs some green thumb confidence, this flower is your new best friend. The natural, glossy leaves alone will make you feel like a gardening expert!
Gloriosa Superba / Glory Lily
Despite the lofty name, the glory lily’s flowers are not as big as you might expect. However, it’s not necessarily the size that gives this flower its name. The shape of the flowering petals is quite impressive and resembles a flame!
Aloe Succotrina / Mountain Aloe
This aloe variety forms densely clustered rosettes. Native to Cape Town, South Africa, it is suitable for a variety of warmer climates, and it blooms in the winter. In some cases, it can grow 10 feet tall and has very thick leaves.
Gazania Rigens / African Daisy
Nicknamed the “treasure flower” for its jewel-like hues, African daisies can bloom year-round in some locations. The distinctive dark dots that bespeckle the interior petals lend a unique look to any garden.
To complement the bright colors, African daisies have a series of vine-like stems that can meander and create dense foliage. The African daisy is so tough and tolerant that it can be found virtually anywhere, including on beaches and dunes!
Dimorphotheca Tragus / Cape Marigold
When it comes to planting cape marigolds, the more, the merrier. As you bunch these blooms together in flower beds, they form a colorful display and a lush landscape that is sure to brighten anyone’s day.
Native to South Africa, cape marigolds have overlapping stacked petals with sharp, tapered edges, similar to a daisy.
Ammocharis Longifolia / Malgas Lily
Don’t let the delicate look of these tube-shaped flowers fool you. Malgas lilies are exceptionally easy to care for and can thrive in containers.
One of the reasons these traditional African flowers are so popular, besides their stunning looks, is their strong, aromatic fragrance and the fact that they also grow well in the winter months. Bonus points if you’ve got clay or sandy soil!
Leonotis Leonurus / Wild Dagga
From drought to frost, this shrub flower can survive even in the most extreme conditions.
The edible plant belongs to the mint family, and it can be put in teas to treat symptoms such as headaches, fever, and asthma. There’s also evidence that it can help with flue, acne, diabetes, and epilepsy. Some cultures smoke it for a euphoric effect.
We also think there could be some fun cocktail recipes that could use the bright orange colors as a garnish!
Berkheya Purpurea / Purple Berkheya
Resembling a daisy, purple berkheya originates in South Africa and is often seen at higher altitudes. The base of the flower buds is supported by sharp, thistle foliage and a thorn-adorned stem for protection against animals drawn to their sweet fragrance.
Dietes Iridioides / African Iris
The African iris is a true beauty, with bright white petals spotted with contrasting yellow and violet markings toward the center. Tragically, the flowers only bloom for 24 hours, but because the flowers grow in clumps and open up at different times, you’ll still see flowers for weeks at a time.
These exotic plants are also referred to as the fortnight lily to reflect the two-week blooming season.
Streptocarpus Dunnii / Cape Primrose
This red flower also has the nickname “red nodding bells.” Most often, the blooms are bright orange or red, but they can sometimes produce other colors, such as pink, blue, and mauve. A couple of fun facts about cape primrose; first, the plant only produces a single leaf, and second, it takes years before you’ll see any flowers.
Once the plant does flower, it will produce seed pods inside the bulbs, which are shaped like trumpets.
Pelargonium Album / Pilgrim’s Rest
With a subtle apple or mint scent, this flowering plant is a popular choice for ground cover, and it can be blended with other plants or used as a border. It has pale green foliage with white flowers that bloom from early summer through late fall.
Lapeirousia Pyramidalis / Pyramid Cabong
Originating in southern Africa, this plant requires some patience because it might take at least a season before you see any flowers. The wait is well worth it, however. The painted petals are a work of art, ranging in hues from white to lavender with hints of a darker purple.
Plant these flowers in natural settings with plenty of sun for best results. They need plenty of water when first planted but will ultimately thrive in dry weather. They also do exceptionally well in rockery garden environments.
Give the Gift of Africa’s Most Beautiful Blooms
Whether it’s a special occasion or “just because,” nothing says you care about someone quite like flowers! Surprise someone special with a fresh bouquet of African flowers or a traditional African plant from The Bouqs Company’s carefully curated selection.Shop All