Haemanthus humilis Jacq. is represented by many small, varying populations. The species has round or compressed bulbs with even tunics and lax unspotted leaves that range from smooth to densely hairy. Flowers are white to deep pink with stamens well exserted or equal in length to the segments. Flowers are mostly present with the leaves or appear slightly before. There are two subspecies and they can be differentiated based on their inflorescence, number of spathe valves, and stamen exsertions. This species requires summer water and is happy with a dilute amount of fertilizer during growth. It should be grown in part shade. The dormancy period tends to be short and the soil should be kept dry, although the bulbs seem happiest when the soil does not go bone dry.
Haemanthus humilis subsp. hirsutus (Baker) Snijman suggests that the leaves should be hirsute or pubescent, that is not necessarily the case. Leaves can be either entirely pubescent, ciliate along the edges, or completely glabrous, but typically, the adaxial (upper) surface is glabrous and abaxial (back) surface is pubescent. Members within a population of this subspecies are more or less uniform in regards to leaf morphology.
"Umbel stiff, widely obconical to hemisphaerical; spathe valves 7-10; flowers pale pink to white; perianth (15-)16-26 mm long; stamens exserted by 5-15 mm; flowering mostly between November and December; eastern Transvaal, Transvaal highveld, Swaziland, Lesotho and Natal." -- Snijman, A Revision of the Genus Haemanthus L. (Amaryllidaceae), 1984.
The photos below are of a plant grown by Uluwehi Knecht from Balfour, Mpumalanga that has the typical glabrous adaxial and hirsute abaxial leaf surfaces. Photos 1-5 from Nhu Nguyen and photo 6 by Uluwehi Knecht shows the broad leaf span of fully expanded leaves. Note that the leaves are a little tender from several cold nights of light frost.
Haemanthus humilis subsp. humilis is widespread but occurs in isolated and localised populations in specialised habitats, which may explain the great variation between populations. The adaxial (upper) surface may be smooth or pubescent, but the abaxial (back) surface is typically glabrous.
"Umbel loose, hemispherical; spathe valves 4-7(-10); flowers rose-pink to white; perianth 7-16(-18) mm long, tube 1-6(-7) mm long, segments 4-10(-14) mm long; stamens equalling the perianth segments or exserted by up to 5-(8) mm; flowering mostly from late January to February; western Transvaal, Orange Free State, northern and eastern Cape." -- Snijman, A Revision of the Genus Haemanthus L. (Amaryllidaceae) 1984.
Thomas River form -- photos were taken by Cameron McMaster.
Rhodes form -- photos were taken by Cameron McMaster.
'Dwarf' form -- named as such by Cameron McMaster because of the tiny flower heads on stems less than 20 cm in height. It can be found growing near King Williams Town. Photos 1-3 by Cameron McMaster and photos 4-6 by Doug Westfall of a plant in cultivation.
'Dwarf' form 2 -- was received by Doug Westfall as Haemanthus carneus but it was identified as a miniature form of H. humilis because the stamens appear to be exserted, which excludes it from being a white form of H. carneus.
'Giant' form -- named as such by Cameron McMaster because of the spectacular leaves up to 60 cm in diameter and it has an enormous flower head. This form was first discovered when Cameron observed them with binoculars growing on a steep cliff in full shade on the opposite bank of the Great Kei River. Photos by Cameron McMaster show the habitat, the flowers, the leaves, and the fruit.
The photos below were taken by Mary Sue Ittner of plants obtained from Cameron showing the buds and the flower starting to open next to the start of new hairy leaves.
Two other noteworthy variations in the Eastern Cape are an early flowering form from the Graaff Reinet area of the central Karoo. Photo 1 shows this form which has small cerise flowers with bright yellow stamens and is very, very attractive. Photo 2 shows a plant grown from seeds collected from an almost white form with hairy leaves growing in Acacia thicket in the Stutterheim district. This form has stamens the same length as the perianth tube. Photos from Cameron McMaster.
Photo 1 is of a pot of nine month old seedlings grown in Honolulu, Hawai`i by Uluwehi Knecht. Photos 2-3 show the progression of growth of one of these seedlings in year 2 and year 3. The last photo from Doug Westfall shows a dwarf form that he grows that has leaves that are about 1 inch long by about 1/2 in wide.
The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of a deep pink form.