What is Clivia?

Vasanth S.

Clivia is a plant genus that belongs with the Liliaceae plant family. It comprises a number of species that resemble the trumpet-shaped amaryllis, most of which are native to the eastern part of South Africa. Many clivia plants produce a cluster of orange trumpet-shaped flowers, but there are a few varieties that blossom yellow flowers. A fully grown clivia plant generally reaches 2 to 3 feet (about 61 to 91 cm) tall, with a spread that is 2 feet (about 61 cm) wide. It usually takes a few years before the clivia plant is mature enough to bloom.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Some common clivia species include C. miniata, C. caulescens, and C. nobilis. Miniata and caulescens typically bloom three years after the seeds are planted, while nobilis can take up to eight years to bloom. All three can make excellent potted house plants.

During spring and summer, clivias can be placed in a wide clay pot on windowsills that have adequate sunlight. As fall approaches, the pots should be moved to the porch or patio to become acclimated to the cool temperatures. This is typically required for proper flower budding in the spring.

There are a number of things that can increase the likelihood of flower growth, including a quality potting mix and supplemental plant food. Clivias generally prefer a potting mix that is acidic and drains well, such as composted pine bark. Adding potash to the potting mix at the end of winter generally promotes flower growth as well.

Adding a fertilizer every three to four weeks, from early spring to late summer, can also improve flower growth. Clivias that are close to the flowering stage typically require a fertilizer that is high in potassium. In contrast, clivias that are years away from flowering usually require a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and phosphorus.

Clivias should be watered once a week during the growing season and less frequently during the winter. The soil should be dry before the next watering otherwise the clivia may develop rot. Only when the leaves begin to wilt should more water be supplied to the plant.

Shaded areas in a garden or tree-covered landscapes are a great location for planting clivias. In their natural forest habitat, clivias compete with the roots of surrounding trees for nutrients and water. The same tenacity enables clivias to survive under trees in a yard. Tree cover also provides protection against frost during the winter.

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