Growing Clivia From Seed

Harvesting Seed

Pick the fruit as soon as it starts to change colour or when it turns soft. Open it carefully and remove all the soft pulp as well as the loose fitting membranes that keep the Clivia seeds together. Clean this properly and wash the seeds with an anti fungal solution or a weak solution of dish washing liquid.

Germinating Seeds

If the Clivia seed have not yet sprouted, put a teaspoon full of damp compost in a sealed plastic bag with a few seeds. Place the bag in a warm place or on top of your fridge, near the back where the warm air rises, to speed up sprouting.

Alternatively place clean damp (not wet) coarse sand (river sand is ideal) in a plastic container.

Press seeds 50% into sand making sure that the eye (small dark round spot on seeds where germination will take place) are facing to the side. Don’t plant the seed under the soil surface.

Close the lid and place in warm spot for 1 to 3 weeks until the seed has germinated. Do not water again.

When the seeds have sprouted

Take a pot or seed tray, about 15cm deep and put a layer of small stones or coarse bark chips in the bottom. Fill the container with a slightly acid growing medium, such as equal parts of coarse river sand and finely milled bark or a potting mix available at nurseries. (Clivias are not very fussy).

Firmly press down the mix and water well. Then make small holes, at least 2cm apart, to take the little taproots. Gently press each seed into the medium so that half the seed rests below the surface. Handle the seeds very gently.

Place the pot in a shaded position and keep moist by watering once or twice a week with a fine gentle spray.

Seedlings can be left in the pot for up to two years and at the beginning of the third year can be transplanted into permanent pots (especially the yellow ones) or into the garden. Alternatively they can be moved into well-drained individual black bags or pots after one year, in fresh growing medium adding a small quantity of bone meal. (Use one teaspoonful on each 15cm pot).

How to identify the Yellow seedlings?

When the first leaf of the seedlings is about 2cm tall, you will be able to identify the yellow seedlings by looking at the stem. The stems that are green and show no colouring will produce yellow flowers. Mark these seedlings at this stage. This also applies to genuine peach seedlings.

On the other hand, if the stem has a purplish colour, you know the plant will not produce yellow or peach seedlings, but will be pastel, orange or red flowers. This purplish colour disappears when the seedlings are about two to three years old.


Remember that Clivia do not like direct sun, so they MUST be planted in full shade or dappled sunlight. They flower better in lighter shade. A little early morning sun is acceptable.

Keep your “collector’s quality” plants in pots, which will allow you to move them around easily, they could be brought indoors for display or to show off when in full flower or displayed at a show.


Queen of the Shadows


CLIVIA, Clivia miniata – Possibly the most recognised of the clivias with its orange flowers.

Clivia miniata ‘World Cup x Shirley Hardman Splash’

RED CLIVIA, Clivia miniata ‘Red 6’




  • Clivias will grow in shade, but may become ‘leggy’ if grown in deep shade. They will still flower, but not prolifically.
  • Aim for good light in autumn and spring, but avoid strong sunlight in the summer months.
  • Best grown in fertile, well-drained soil.


There are two basic methods to propagate clivias – using offsets from the parent plant and propagating by seed.

When offsets from a parent plant are removed and potted up, an exact copy of the plant will be created. When propagating from seed, variation from the parent plant may occur.

Propagating from Seed

  1. Approximately 6 – 8 months of flowering, the seed pods will ripen from green to red.
  2. Remove the red seeds and break open the seed pod. Remove the pulpy outer layer.
  3. Rinse the seed in lukewarm water with a drop of dishwashing liquid to remove any excess pulp.
  4. Leave the seed on a paper towel for several days to dry out.
  5. Fill a pot with seed raising mix or good quality potting mix. Use a small pot to keep the seed warm.
  6. If you can see a growing point on the seed, face it downwards and push them slightly into the seed raising mix with the top of the seed still exposed. Place approx. 4 seeds in each pot.
  7. Blend seed raising mix with some sand and sprinkle this over the tops of the seeds to just cover them.
  8. Place plant markers in the pot with details of the clivia seeds used and date of planting.
  9. Gently water in. Peter uses a recycled soft drink bottle with a sprinkler head attached. (You can improvise by putting holes in a soft drink lid.)
  10. In around a month, the seeds will germinate.

Most Read

These landscape lovelies colour up a shady corner and can be divided after spring flowering for lots more plants.

Whether you grow them in beds or pots, clivias are among the most versatile, hardy and beautiful plants you can include in your landscape.

Given the right position they’ll reward you with luxuriant foliage and blooms with a minimum of care.

The standard colour is salmon but they also come in near white, buttery yellow and flame orange. Leaves are emerald green, varying from long and narrow to very broad.

Clivia miniata, the most often seen species, flowers in late winter but C. nobilisand C. caulescenscan bloom a couple of times a year.

TIP Variegated forms are available but are costly and often unstable, reverting to plain green as the plant matures.

A good provider

Clivias are showy but surprisingly low maintenance and are easy to grow from seed or propagate by division.

Over time clivias naturally form an ever-expanding clump in beds, while in pots they can become too crowded to perform well.

After spring flowering, a large garden clump or root-bound container plant can be divided for lots more clivias that can be potted up.

Most clivias set a large number of seeds every year. These take a year to ripen so it’s not unusual to see a plant flowering while holding a ripe seed-head from the previous season.

Selective breeding

Also called kaffir lily, all clivia species originally hail from South Africa and have been much sought after since their discovery by Europeans in about 1815.

They were named for Lady Charlotte Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, who first cultivated them in the UK.

Today the most desirable hybrids come from China, after decades of extensive breeding.

Certain top quality variegated forms can sell for thousands of dollars.

Dividing a clump

To lift a plant from the garden, drive in a spade from the edge at 45°, working your way around until the entire clump comes loose then remove most of the soil from the roots. TIP You may need to break the pot to free a crowded plant.

Step 1. Cut the roots

100mm of rhizome and a leaf set. Remove any soil and damaged roots. Trim the leaves by a third and put in a cool, dry spot until the cuts seal.

Step 2. Add each plant

Add each plant to a pot part-filled with potting mix, hold it upright and backfill around the roots and rhizome, firming the mix down. TIP Use the same method in beds.

Step 3. Position the pots

Position the pots in a shady spot and water in the plants well. Don’t keep clivias too moist while they establish, as this can lead to fungal problems and rot.

How to grow

The roots and leaves of clivias grow from a fleshy rhizome that branches out, creating offsets or pups that in turn shoot new leaves.

Clivias need free-draining soil and don’t like frost but tolerate heavy shade. In cold climates they are often grown as indoor plants.

POSITION in a warm, shady spot with protection from afternoon sun. The dappled light under trees is ideal.

WATER regularly in spring and summer but let them dry out in autumn and winter. Clivias are quite drought-tolerant but won’t survive wet feet, so don’t use pot saucers.

FEED in spring after flowering with an all-purpose fertiliser and give them regular applications of seaweed tonic.

PROPAGATE by division or grow from seed after flowering. Divided plants usually flower in two years while seed-grown plants take four to six.

TIP Wear gloves to handle clivias, as they contain low levels of alkaloids that irritate skin.

Growing from seed

Spring is when clivia seeds are ripe and ready. Sow them in pots and the first leaves should be visible in a month or two. The seeds have a high viability rate so you may be able to grow 20 or more plants a year from a single plant.

Offering tropical foliage, bright blooms and even fruit, these varieties are some of the prettiest indoor plants available. As a bonus, many are super-easy to grow or have air-purifying qualities—so snap up your faves from the garden center and get started!

Emiko Aumann/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Wandering Jew

Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: The stripey purple leaves on this trailing houseplant make for such a pretty pop of color. This plant prefers full sun—the more light it gets, the more purple you’ll see, according to the blog Plants Are the Strangest People. Keep the soil wet for best results.

RELATED: The 15 easiest indoor house plants that won’t die on you

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Phalaenopsis Orchid

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: This classic orchid has long sprays of large white flowers that are well known for their elegant, sophisticated look on coffee or side tables—or anywhere! There are many species of this plant, which favors bright, indirect sunlight and humid conditions, according to Just Add Ice Orchids.

Nakano Masahiro/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Very easy

Why you want it: If you love the splashy, bright look of geraniums in the garden, try one indoors. Varieties like ivy geraniums are easy to grow and have blooms in vibrant colors. These plants favor bright light, the better the light, the more they’ll flower. Don’t overwater, advises Garden Guides, given that geraniums thrive when the soil dries out between waterings.

Gil Guelfucci/Flickr/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: The fragrance that wafts from the white or pink flowers on jasmine plants can be downright intoxicating. The plants are vining, so you can train them into pretty topiaries indoors. According to Life on the Balcony, jasmine prefers bright, filtered light and a bit of humidity—so a bathroom could be just right.

George Rose/Contributor/Getty Images News

Ponderosa Lemon

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: Who doesn’t love the aroma and look of a citrus tree? Ponderosa lemon, which produces large, juicy fruits with bumpy peels, is among the varieties that can grow well indoors under the right conditions, according to SFGate Home Guides. Water deeply just a couple of times a week and fertilize each spring, and you’ll have not only a pretty plant but also a source of a common recipe ingredient—not to mention cocktail garnish!

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY. Anna Yu/Photodisc/Getty Images

African Violet

Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: These flowering houseplants are a snap to maintain and bloom with pretty flowers all year long. They come in tons of colors and varieties, from pale pink to white. You’ll have the most success with indirect or filtered light, according to Weekend Gardener—and lay off the overwatering!

DEA/C.DANI/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: For a pretty pop of green anywhere around the house, this is a hardy and quick-growing plant with visually interesting leaves that can have spots or stripes. (It’s also known as “dumb cane” for the effects of its toxic sap—so use caution.) It favors moderate to low light and moderate to heavy watering, according to the blog Houseplant Care Tips.

Rosemary Calvert/The Image Bank/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: You know hibiscus adds a tropical feel to outdoor gardens—but did you know it grows great indoors too? The huge flowers don’t last long, but they’re lovely and come in shades of orange, red, yellow, pink and more. Keep the soil moist but not too wet, advises Garden Guides.

RELATED: The trendiest plant of the year? What to know about the fiddle-leaf fig tree

Juan Pablo Osorio/LatinContent/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Challenging

Why you want it: The flowering version of this plant has pretty red or yellow blooms that conjure lush, tropical gardens. Try one in your home if you can provide bright light and low to moderate watering, according to the Houseplant Care Tips blog.

Chris Burrows/Garden Picture Library/Getty Images

Cape Primrose

Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: The pretty flowers on this plant come in an array of colors and look bright and cheerful on a kitchen windowsill. Find versions of this flowering plant in purple, red, white and more. Cape primrose, also known as streptocarpus, does well in normal to cold room conditions, according toAmateur Gardening. Just be careful not to overwater.

David Q. Cavagnaro/Garden Picture Library/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: Small white flowers complement the purplish leaves on this shamrock-like plant. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch or the plant starts to droop. Oxalis thrive in sunny to partly sunny conditions, according to Home Rehab.

Matthew Ward/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Golden Pothos

Difficulty level: Very easy

Why you want it: Also known as Devil’s Ivy, this vining plant has pretty marbled leaves and a visually interesting yellow hue. It’s easy to grow and has an air-purifying quality. It thrives in bright, filtered light—the yellow patterns on the leaves become more pronounced in brighter light, according to the Flower Shop Network blog.

David Gomez/E+/Getty Images


Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: If you love this pretty flowering plant outdoors, why not give it a shot inside as well? Choose one of the many varieties best suited to your home’s conditions for a splash of pretty color in a window or on a coffee table. Brad’s Begonia World suggests using fluorescent lights to control the conditions; they should run about 14 hours per day if possible. Let the surface of the soil dry slightly between waterings.

Tom Dobbie/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Peace Lily

Difficulty level: Very Easy

Why you want it: One of the prettiest indoor plants is also one of the easiest to grow and maintain (not to mention one of the most widely available). In many varieties, the curved white flowers bloom year round. Bonus: It also has an air-purifying quality. Peace lily can thrive in lower lighting conditions, meaning it can do well almost anywhere around the house, according to the Houseplant Care Tips blog. Water heavily. And keep away from kids and pets, as this plant is toxic.

Chris Burrows/Garden Picture Library/Getty Images

Yellow Goddess Amaryllis

Difficulty level: Easy

Why you want it: Talk about a cheery pop of color! This lovely plant has pretty trumpet-shaped yellow blooms, and a relatively compact size for easy placement around the house. It does well in bright, indirect light according to the blog Cozy Bliss.

Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Flowering Maple

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why you want it: With the right care, you’ll almost always find delicate flowers blooming on this pretty plant. In yellows, pinks, oranges and yellows, they pop from leaves reminiscent of its namesake maple tree. This plant likes filtered sun and evenly moist soil, according to the Garden Helper.

Gardening 101: Must-knows for perfect planting

May 17, 201304:04

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

Buy Clivia Plants and Clivia Seeds

Preface: The following instructions are not meant to be a scientific treatise on Clivia. There are many great Academics who have written far more on the subject and in much greater depth. If you want to know more technical information or make a study we recommend that you seek out other experts and publications.

We have merely written this section to assist our Customers using simple and straight forward language and instruction.

Thank you for understanding our mission.

Clivias are an evergreen plant grown both for their foliage and their flowers.

This section is primarily for the Clivia Grower who maintains his or her collection in a set of pots.

Before we begin, keep in mind that in warmer parts of the world Clivia can be grown on sides of buildings, in forests or under shade cloth providing approximately 80% of the light is diffused away from the plant. Hard or compacted soils are taboo.

1. Pot Use

Clivia tend to like growing deep into a pot. Once they have grown to seedling size we transplant them from our trays to our clivia pots These should last you until the roots start growing out through the bottom of the pot. We then keep them in 6″ deep pots. Once they grow 8-10 leaves we use 8-10″ pots depending on the size of the root ball. Clivia like to be pot bound. Do not repot until the root ball fills the pot, and then only repot into the next largest size pot. (Maybe 2″ more in diameter)

If your plant won’t fit into a pot-either trim back the roots or use a larger pot. Remember if trimming the roots, apply a fungicide paste (50% fungicide-50% rooting hormone) and do not water for several days allowing the roots to “heal”.

2. Potting Mix

We use a light, airy mix purchasable here that allows water penetration and excellent drainage.

You also want some organic matter in your mix as there are benefits as it breaks down.

Because of these considerations our own mix (highly recommended for your success-you can make it) is composed of:

20% medium coconut chips; 30% fine coconut chips; 10% composted vegetative material only No Manure of any kind.; 20% coarse perlite (sponge rock); 10% agricultural charcoal or Hygroton clay pellets; 10% new zealand (or equal) sphagnum moss. The percentages are estimates. Anything close will do.

Sometimes we will try different materials, or something might get potted in one of my orchid mixes, which has, Clamshells, Lava Rock, sharp builder’s sand, and other items in it depending on plant type.

Over time I have come to use a medium cement mixer tray found in places like Lumber yards, Home Depot etc. for a mixing and holding container.

Keep your mix dry. Only water after potting up.

3. PH

Clivia readily accept a PH of neutral (7.0) to slightly acid 6-6.9. Unless you have hard alkaline water I wouldn’t pay too much attention to PH.

Many people kill both fish and plants by making adjustments to PH too quickly. Make changes slowly over several weeks if you must… and buy a good PH meter-no guessing!

4. Watering (Or how most people kill their plants)

I use a very simple water system. First of all during the late spring, summer and 1/2 way through the winter, I use any 20-20-20 soluable fertilizer I can buy at a reasonable price. (You can use almost any fertilizer as long as the numbers added up =60)

(Note, we have a product my son affectionally calls Barry’s Special Sauce. We have only recently begun making it as a sale item. Use it once per month in the place of one of the fertilizations. Our plants grow really much faster with our mixture.) Everything any houseplant may need is in the “Sauce”

Once during April I use a fertilizer lower in nitrogen and higher in Potassium and the Phosphates to promote flower growth. See Jack’s Feertilizer for example-this is a substitution for the 20-20-20 not in addition.

For three weeks we use 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water (Or 2 weeks Fertilizer, 1 week Sauce, 1 week water only). I make sure the pots drain. No standing water, please.

This procedure is carried out whether watering by hand or using sophisticated dosing systems.

On the fourth week we use only water and nothing else and fully flush any salts out of the plant. (again no standing water left in pot, please).

In Late Winter/Early Spring change your fertilizer over to any good one that has its second number, at least, twice as high as the first. This action will stimulate larger flowers, flower counts and bigger Umbels. Do this until late spring.

If you really want your adult plants to bloom you’ll let them dry out from early winter to a point 2-3 months later. Give them a little drink of water monthly. Not much, just make sure they are staying turbid (not drooping over)

Remember if in doubt don’t fertilize..

4. The cold Period

In order to stimulate your Clivia to both bloom and especially to encourage growth of tall Umbels (Balls of flowers), you must give them a little winter chill. We place our adults into an area that in general remains at 45-60 during a winter day and drops no lower than 40 degrees fahrenheit at night.

Some enthusiasts use higher numbers but we are simply trying to expose what we do to our valued customers.

5. Fertilizing

Covered for the most part under watering as water is the vehicle used for the soluable fertilizers.

We should mention that we use a solution of Cal-Mag once each month when the plants are in growth. Generally from March to October here in the Northeast. We use the instructions on the can whatever they may be. (You only need this if not using “Barry’s Special Sauce”.)

By using the Cal-Mag supplement we are just assuring ourselves that we are not missing any ingredients our beautiful plants may require.

I Read on that I should use Bat Ear Wax for a media. Why should I use your method?

We have nothing invested in you using our methodology. It works for us. If you want to use regular dirt, potting soil, bat ear wax, etc for your media go for it. Adult Clivia are TOUGH so they will survive your choices most likely.

Just understand theres a difference between survive and thrive, and that difference is sometimes dramatic.

For example this is an offset of Conway’s Hannah we bought from someone in California who plants in dirt. The plant came in and was a nice healthy strap leaf plant.

Only one thing, after a few months here we learned it was not supposed to be strap leaved at all. It had been putting all its strength into survival. Yes the leaves pointed at with the arrows are on the same plant.


From the 2nd pic you can see how its gone from strap leaf to a slightly broader leaf to a severely broader leaf as its grown here. This is the result of a better soil-less mix and the higher fertilization that mix allows us to utilize. This plant is just sitting in our front foyer in our home which we use as an auxiliary cold room. Its getting no special treatment or extra light. (unless you think getting its picture taken near my bare feet and oh so sexy sweatpants is special treatment.)

Other info that is not at all related to this article: If you ever need a picture of dead rust on a clivia you can go ahead and use the leaf in the top of the photo too. Our personal plants got hit by a hailstorm this summer so we are pretty happy to have gotten away with just a little rust and scarring. Some people might cut that off or remove the leaf but we feel that if the leaf is still generating energy for the plant and not contagious theres no reason to remove it.

How to Grow Clivia Plant

The clivia plant, also known as kafir-lily is a beautiful houseplant you can grow relatively easily. The clivia plant has heavy textured green strap-like leaves. The flowers are smooth petaled, with varied colors ranging from brick red to salmon, red and yellow. It is truly a beautiful indoor houseplant.

The clivia plant is a relative to the amaryllis. It grows from thick, tuberous roots rather than a true bulb, though people often refer to the clivia bulb when they talk about these plants. The “bulb” generally grows slowly. It’s seldom listed in the plant bracket so it may not look gorgeous when you first spot it in the garden center. However, it’s a plant that will last you for years, even more than a decade. It’s not surprising to hear some 15 years and older clivia plants people grow in their homes. It doesn’t deteriorate with age: on the contrary, these old plants can still produce beautiful flowers and only increase in beauty.

Another thing you need to know is that these plants have evergreen foliage and their flowers look stunning. You can use clivia plants to add color to your home and they make a very good investment.

Clivia Plant Care Requirements

The first thing you need to know about growing clivia plants is that they require rich potting soil with a bit peat added to the mix. Make sure to never repot your clivia until the fleshy roots have entirely outgrown the pot.

Once it’s established, a cliva plant needs regular food to thrive. You should feed it during its growth period and make sure to provide it with plenty of water. During the growing season, the bulbs require temperatures of about 60 to 80 degrees F. In the winter, tolerable temperatures range between 50 and 55 degrees F.

There are 3 or 4 popular species of clivia plants, as well as several common hybrids. The most popular of them all (and the one that’s most often listed in catalogs) is Clivia miniata. It has its active growth period in early spring to early fall.

During this time (the growing season), your clivia plant will need a lot of warmth, light, water and fertilization. Average home temperatures of about 70 to 75 degrees F and about a ten degree drop at night are the best and will make the plant thrive. These temperatures match the conditions in the plant’s native South Africa.

To make your clivia thrive, it’s best to place it near an east or south window. It will promote good growth.

Image by ouistitis

Resting Your Clivia Plant

In the late fall and early winter you should make your clivia plant rest. Place it in a cool room where temperatures don’t go above 50 degrees F. Since modern homes are generally well-heated during winter, you may have some problem finding a suitable room to rest your clivia. You may use a partially heated porch or glazed-in patio. Another good place is a north wall in a cool basement. While you keep the plant in storage don’t forget to decrease its water supply.

In mid-January bring your clivia to the light. This is when you should give them a good soaking with water. The plant will soon show new center leaves. When the new growth starts, make sure to give your plant a weekly feeding of one fourth strength soluble liquid food. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to determine the right proportions.

Your clivia plant should bloom in April, but it may not flower until June or even early July.

One note about flowers: some people like clivia for its foliage so they keep their plant in the window garden (or a planter) for the whole year. It’s important to note that this won’t hurt the plant. However, your clivia will probably not grow under such treatment. It is less likely to produce annual spring or summer flower crop. If you want your clivia to bloom, make sure to rest it during winter and to move it from the window, as described above.

Potting and Dividing

When you purchase your clivia from a catalogue chances are that it will be shipped bare root and wrapped. It means you have to plant it in your home. Clivias are relatively large so they require 6 to 8 inch pots.

When planting, remember to place about one inch of drainage material in the pot. Use a soil mix made for amaryllis bulbs (or a similar one).

If you plant your clivia in an 8 inch pot, chances are that you won’t need to repot it for 5 or 6 years. When it develops a new growth each year, make sure to scrape away an inch of the top soil and replace it with fresh soil. This is all you need to do to set it for the year.

To divide your clivia, knock it gently out of the pot. It’s best to use a sharp knife to cut away the offsets. When you do it, make sure that you cut plenty of root with them. Plant the offsets in five inch pots of soil. Leave them in there for at least one whole year.

When growing the offsets, give them the same treatment you give to the older plants. You can use knife to cut through sheathed leaves and attached roots. You can plant these divisions in the same way you plant offsets.

Starting from Seeds

You can also make your flowering plant to produce its own seeds. To do it, remove some of the pollen from one flower and place it on the stigma (tip of elongated appendage in the center of the flower) of another flower.

You can plant single seeds in 3 inch pots of sterilized sand and loam. Germination of these seeds is rapid and as the plant matures you can move it to a 5 inch pot of soil and care for it as a division. Under home conditions, it takes about 5 to 7 years to make a clivia bloom from seeds.

Image by nettsu

How to Grow Clivia Plant Outdoors

If you want to grow your clivia plants outdoors, remember to place the pot in a shady area of your garden. You may also use it for landscaping. It’s probably the best to keep it in a container. This way, you can bring it in the house before the first frost.

You may wish to transplant your clivia, but you need to understand that it will usually deter the plant from producing the next year’s blooms. Old plants often have 15 to 20 leaves so you will sometimes be forced to transfer you plant to a new pot.

How to Make Your Clivia a Blooming Winner

One of the most frequently asked questions on growing clivia is “how do I get my clivia to bloom?” Recently I visited with the Director of the North American Clivia Society and Executive Director of the Delaware Nature Society, Mike Riska, to get his expert advice on clivias. Mike has grown clivia for many years, and has won numerous awards for his plants—both from the Philadelphia Flower Show and from Longwood Gardens. In this video, he shares some pointers on how to get a clivia to bloom, and gave advice on growing and grooming your plants for competitions.

Mike Riska with one of his clivias.

The North American Clivia Society is holding the International Clivia Show and Symposium at Longwood Gardens on March 17–20, 2011. The symposium will feature speakers from South Africa, Australia, the US, plenty of tours, and hopefully, the show will include your plant. We encourage you to bring your clivia and show it off, and attend the lectures and tours. Don’t be frightened of entering your plant in the show! You have nothing to lose, and hopefully you will get to have some fun and meet some fellow clivia enthusiasts.

A Longwood clivia.

Here are some key conditions that are necessary to get your plant to bloom on time for the show next year, or just getting your plant to bloom in general:

  • Provide optimal light conditions for the production of flower buds. Mike grows his plants outside for the summer in protected areas.
  • While growing outside, Mike fertilizes every two weeks with half strength Miracle Gro 20-20-20.
  • Before the first freeze, move your plants indoors.
  • Plants should get no water between October 1 and January 22. It is critical that during this time the plants are chilled at temperatures between 35 and 55 degrees F for a minimum of 5 weeks to initiate bloom. If this cold treatment is not provided, the plants may not bloom until late summer.
  • Hold the plants dormant until 8 weeks before show time.
  • To bring the plants out of dormancy, begin watering and gradually raise the temperature to 60 degrees F.
  • Flower buds should begin to show about two weeks after the temperature is raised. The appearance of the flower buds signals that you are on track, and need to think about bringing your plant to the North American Clivia Society International Show and Symposium at Longwood Gardens!

For more information and to register for the symposium please visit the Longwood Gardens Website.

The Clivia Show at Longwood Gardens 2010.

Thorny problems: why won’t my clivia plants flower?

– You tend to get what you pay for with LED lights. The quality of fitting and colour of the light are generally much better in more expensive versions.

– Be adventurous: free-standing floor or table lamps can add atmosphere. There are now a huge variety of weatherproof designs, from the traditional to the modern, and they can transform outside seating areas into attractive outside rooms.

– Consider how the lighting will look from all vantage points, especially from different levels in the house. Choose low glare fittings in a natural colour so that they disappear into the planting. You only want to be aware of the light they give out.

-I t is always a good idea to use a dimmer switch to control lighting near your house to create the ideal seamless inside/outside atmosphere.

John Cullen (020 7371 9000)

Pick of the week: a question of weeds

When is a weed not a weed? Answer: When it pops up and looks lovely, while not smothering other plants.

It has become fashionable to be a bit sniffy about the lime green-flowered front-of-border stalwart lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), which can indeed get away from you if you are not ruthless with the shears after it flowers. Other rampant self-seeders, however, such as the pink/white daisy Erigeron karvinskianus are universally loved. Here are two spreaders worthy of leniency, both yellow-flowered (sharp intake of breath from those who persist in irrationally shunning yellow), and both love shade.

Welsh poppy (Meconopsis cambrica) is a perennial producing fluttery flowers that vary in colour from lemon yellow (see below), through to non-violent orange (the variety ‘Frances Perry’ is scarlet). To limit their enthusiastic self-seeding and keep them flowering non-stop from mid-May onwards, deadhead plants regularly. When their leaves get tatty in July, cut them to the bone and they will perform again, slightly less effusively, a few weeks later.

Fumewort (Corydalis lutea) is another self-seeding perennial, with ferny leaves and masses of yolk-yellow flowers for weeks in summer. It grows particularly well in damp crevices. If this one gets a bit too much, you just grasp handfuls of its brittle stems and gently tug them away. The plant then renews itself.

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Sometimes known as a kafir-lily, the clivia is one of the most beautiful houseplants that you can grow. The leaves are heavily textured, almost strap-like, and the smooth petals come in amazing colors ranging from bright yellow to brick red and everything in between. Surprisingly these exotic plants are relatively easy to grow if you follow some basics. Most people who have never seen clivia bulbs walk straight past them in garden centers as they do not look overly exciting at this stage. But planted correctly and cared for properly the clivia has evergreen foliage and will flower once a year for a decade or so. Unlike so many other plants the clivia actually improves with age and later on in their life-cycle the blooms look stunning.

Pot Size

Because clivias can grow up to three feet tall and just as wide one of the problems you may encounter is the plant toppling over. That is why you should bind the roots to a heavy ceramic pot, but not too big. The ideal pot size is small to medium as this will encourage the plant to bloom for longer.

It is also good practice to repot the plant every three years, but if you are having problems with toppling then either find a heavier pot or repot into a taller but not wider pot. You should be aware that transplanting your plant will normally mean that it will not bloom the following year but as the plant grows you may have no option but to repot. The best option is to fist plant your clivia in a pot that is around eight inches, this way you will not have to think about re-potting it for at least five years. Just make sure that every year you replace the old top soil with new.


Really to maintain a clivia is really easy, the plant needs little regular pruning. Just occasionally check for dead flowers and cut them away at the base of the stalk ready for the next bloom. This is one of the main benefits of growing a clivia in that they are really easy to maintain. The only downside of a clivia plant is that it is highly toxic, rated at level three. So always wear gloves when tending your plant and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Growing a Clivia Outdoors

If you have no more room left indoors you may want to think about planting your clivia outdoors, but always look for a nice shady spot in your garden as a clivia does not flourish in the direct sunlight. A good tip is to keep your plant in a portable container, this way you can always bring it inside if the weather gets inclement or overly cold. Clivia’s are marvelous plants to grow at home for all the reasons we have listed, and they will bring a host of color to brighten up your house or apartment. With a little tenderness and minimal care they will keep on flowering up to fifteen years from seedling.

Gardening FAQ

Clivia, or Kaffir lily, an undemanding, bulbous, perennial plant with fleshy roots, is native to South Africa. Clivias branch out alternately on both sides, and four to six new leaves can be produced yearly with proper care. The plant can grow 18 to 24 inches tall at maturity. The blooms are trumpet-shaped and grow in clusters of 10 to 20 scarlet, salmon, yellow or orange flowers. When flowers die, the stems should be cut as close to the soil surface as possible and when the remaining stem dries, it should be removed. Strong foliage growth begins after flowering, and the dead flowers can take strength away from the growth. However, the flower stems can be left intact if you want to use the ripe seeds the plant may produce for propagating.

Once the plant is placed in the proper location it prefers, it must not be moved, and the pot must not be turned, or the flowers will drop. Clivia must rest during the winter. After mid-October the water supply must be slowly reduced and the plant should remain completely dry from November to January. During this period it should be kept in a bright, cool (but not below 50°F) location. When flower buds appear, move it to a warmer location (60-65°F), but let the soil remain dry until flower stalks are 6 inches tall, and then resume proper watering.

Clivia can tolerate a small amount of filtered sunlight. Beginning in the late spring, it must be moved away from any direct sun, but it still needs bright light; you may not get flowers in lower light conditions. 500 foot-candles is optimum (you use an inexpensive light meter if you prefer).

It needs to be repotted only every three to five years in a potting mixture of one part loam, one part peat moss, one part sharp sand or perlite, and compost. Repot when the roots start growing over the surface soil, but after flowering has ceased. Careful watering is best after repotting.

While the plant is flowering, keep the soil moist but never soggy. After flowering, when foliage growth begins, let the plant dry out between thorough waterings (early in the day, water all the way through). Do not water during the rest period. Spray mist the plant as needed.

To make more plants from the mother plant, use offsets or divide large plants.

For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
– Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

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