How To Care And Grow Clivia Plant

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Question: I have a clivia, or kafir-lily, and would like to know something about its culture.

Quick Answer: The clivia plant is an easily grown houseplant. It should be potted in rich potting soil with a little peat added and should not be repotted again until the fleshy roots have entirely outgrown the pot.

Once established Clivias it should be fed regularly during their growth period and should have plenty of water. The bulbs require temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees during the growing season and a lower temperature, 50 to 55 degrees, and less water in the winter.

Growing Clivia

The Clivia, with its heavy textured green strap-like leaves and its array of smooth petaled salmon, brick red or red and yellow flowers, is a distinguished beauty as an indoor houseplant.

The bulb grows slowly and is seldom listed in the inexpensive plant bracket, but it is a plant that will last for years. I have one that’s 15 years old, and still going strong. Each year it increases in beauty and since such a plant can be used as a basic part of the indoor color scheme and is well worth the price.

This amaryllis relative grows from thick tuberous roots rather than a true bulb, and its foliage is evergreen.

Clivia Miniata Most Common

There are three or four species and several hybrids but the one most often listed in catalogs and seen at florists is Clivia miniata. Clivia’s active growth period is during early spring to early fall.

During this time it needs plenty of warmth, light, water and fertilizer. When in growth the average temperature of the home, 70 to 75 degrees in the daytime with the usual ten degree drop at night, seems well suited to this native of South Africa. Light from an east or south window is conducive to its good growth.

Care And Culture Requires Rest

During late fall and early winter clivia plants should be “rested” by placing it in a cool room where temperatures hover around 50 degrees. In the modern home this situation calls for some thought. A partially heated sun porch or glazed-in patio, or the north wall in a cool basement furnish ideal resting conditions. While the plant is in storage decrease its water supply.

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In mid-January bring clivias to the light, give them a thorough soaking with water and it will soon show new center leaves. When growth starts, give plants a weekly feeding of one-fourth strength soluble liquid food. You can determine proportions by reading the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plants should bloom in April, but it may not flower until late June or early July.

Some growers so admire clivia foliage that they keep a plant in the window garden or a planter throughout the year. This won’t hurt the plant but under such treatment it is not likely to produce its annual spring or early summer flower crop.

Potting Clivia

Clivias purchased from catalogs are shipped bare root and often wrapped. These are most often quite large plants requiring a six to eight-inch pot. Place about an inch of drainage material in the pot and use a soil mixture such as you might use for amaryllis bulbs.

If it is planted in an eight-inch pot it will not need replanting for five or six years. As it begins each season’s growth, scrape away an inch of the topsoil, replace it with fresh soil and it will be all set for the year.

Growing Clivias Outdoors

You can summer clivia by plunging the pot in a shady nook in the garden. In some parts of California these plants are used for landscaping. Bring the plant into the house before the first frost.

Transplanting usually deters plants from producing next season’s blooms. Since older plants often have 15 to 20 leaves there may be times when the plant must be transferred to a new pot or when it will have to be divided.

How To Divide

To divide, knock the plant out of the pot. Use a sharp knife to cut away offsets, making sure you cut plenty of root with them. Plant the offsets in five-inch pots of soil and leave them in these pots for at least a year.

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Give them the same treatment you give older plants. Use the knife to cut through sheathed leaves and their attached roots. Plant these divisions as you plant offsets.

When clivia bulbs are grown in warm dry situations… red spider may become an enemy. I always start with Neem oil and then move to Malathion.

You can grow clivia from seeds which can be purchased from specialists or you might like to make your flowering plant produce its own seeds. To do this, remove some of the powdery pollen from one flower and place it on the stigma (tip of elongated appendage in flower center) of another flower.

Plant single seeds in three-inch pots of sterilized sand and loam. Germination is fairly rapid and as the plant matures it can be shifted into a five-inch pot of soil and cared for as a division. Under household culture it may take five to seven years to get clivia to bloom from seeds.

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