flowers a-z: g is for gloriosa lily

The tender and delicate gloriosa lily was an irresistible choice for this Flowers A–Z post. Gloriosa have a range of native climates — from tropical Africa to Southeastern Asia — but as with so many flowers in this modern age, they have become fairly widely cultivated. In the wild, they can grow into a stubborn perennial vine that takes over other plantings. Gloriosa come in “hot” colors — vivid reds, oranges and yellows — and typically have a “decorated” edging of yellow or green. The gloriosa lily happens to be the national flower of Zimbabwe and also happens to be incredibly toxic! Apparently, the roots have the highest concentration of the poisonous alkaloids — 0.10 ounce of the root can be fatal to an adult! Incredibly, despite this, the flower is used for medicinal purposes in Africa and India. If you work with gloriosa at home, be aware that contact with the skin can cause some irritation, if you are allergy-prone. NOW, ON TO THE GOOD STUFF . . . — Sarah

CLICK HERE for the full post and tips on displaying the Gloriosa after the jump!

I say it often but TRULY, gloriosa is amazing all on its own. Simply cut at a sharp angle and place in a vase. I like an opaque vase in white, or a bright color that allows the color to pop and makes the individual blooms easier to examine up close.

Gloriosa will commonly come from your florist in a grouping of five short stems sealed in a plastic bag. This keeps the lilies moist and open. Recut the coffee-stirrer sized stems at an angle with sharp clippers or a knife and dunk in water. Over time, the petals fold over backward on themselves, creating a darling little umbrella.

Mind the pollen — gloriosa are lilies, after all, and the powdery pollen at the end of the stamens will stain your fingers and clothes.

Adorable — three stems of gloriosa in a vintage milk-glass bud vase.

Or create a more substantial arrangement in a small milk-glass urn.

Start with some fresh geranium (another “g!”) — this will provide a nice structure in which to house the fragile lilies. Clean any excess foliage that will sit below the water line, and cut the geranium so the leaves sit just above the neck of the vase.

I added some royal purple hyacinth for a bit of color contrast. I love orange and purple together. In this arrangement, you can use just a few flowers (only five hyacinth here) and still make great impact.

Add five to seven gloriosa and shut the front door. You are DONE. Isn’t that the sweetest?

A modern take on gloriosa? Sure. Select a sleek, narrow vase with angles.

You don’t even need a lot of greenery for this look. Just start by clustering and balancing the blooms.

Allow the lilies to rest just above the neck of the vase.

Add some hyacinth or any other brightly hued flower.

If you want to conserve flowers and/or add texture, use a gathering of geraniums or a similarly bushy green.

Add more gloriosa and introduce something space-age like these bullet allium (bright yellow craspedia “billy balls” would also be great for this look). This architectural (yet simple!) arrangement reminds me of a city skyline.

I like the whimsy of three allium poking up above the other florals.

Three different concepts to try with the lovely gloriosa!

Thanks again for reading, and meet me back here in two weeks when “h” will be for . . .


Thanks, all! Although I can lean toward the big, showy floral pieces, sometimes it is nice to arrange simply with interesting blooms. You don’t always have to Gild the Lily! HA!

Rita Drysdall

I’ve been battling with the gloriosa lily in my garden, it is very stubborn to remove. It is a declared weed in Brisbane Australia and surrounding areas. There are big fines if they are found growing in gardens. Removal warnings advise to wear gloves to touch it. Glorious colour though.


i didn’t know there was such as thing as a gloriosa lily. i love lily’s though so am happy to have seen this post – and the colour on these lilies is exquisite!

Eva @ Four Leaf Clover

Absolutely beautiful. The flowers a-z posts must be my very favorite here on Design*Sponge. I wish I knew this much about flowers, but it’s great to have this lovely way of finding out. Thank you!


It’s well, uh, glorious!!! Thanks for sharing, as I am always looking for new and unique flowers to plant in my garden. Although after reading Rita’s comment, I may just refrain and try to find them cut, so give as a bouquet. Love learning something new!


These flowers are so lovely and dainty. I especially love the vases and containers! Can you tell me where they are from?