The clivia plant, a small bushy shrub native to Natal, South Africa, was named after Lady Charlotte Florentina Clive, the Duchess of Northumberland, who was the granddaughter of Robert Clive. Clivia is actually pronounced by many as the name Clive. The plants originally belonged to South Africa, but are now grown in most parts of Australia, from Tasmania to the Tropics, and in colder mountain areas. Blooming clivia plants can enhance the beauty of your garden, as they hold the clusters of vibrant yellow and orange flowers on stalks, above the clump of dark green strap-like leaves.
The Beautiful Clivia Flower
The clivia plant is also known as the 'Winter Lily' because of its winter blooming. It is one amongst the most popular lily houseplants used to decorate homes, offices, and gardens all over the world. Flowering plants of clivia exhibit a rich bulbous flora. Many societies have been established for giving information about the growth habits of this plant, and how to take care of the plant. The stem of this plant is thick and is surrounded by long linear leaves. The flower appears on top, in the form of a beautiful bouquet.
The flower is almost similar in appearance to the amaryllis flower, except it is smaller and the cluster has more flowers. A clivia plant grows about 2-3 feet tall. Leaves are produced in an alternate sequence. A well-grown, healthy plant can have at least three to four shoots which come up straight from the base point. The flower stalks have no leaves and they may be about 20 inches tall, depending upon the variety of the plant. The flowering stem stalk is always close to the center of the plant, hidden among the rich green foliage.
Old varieties discovered in the forests had mostly orange and yellow flowers, but some pastels, red, and very rare varieties, like yellow nobilis and caulescens, have been discovered recently. The plants have been improved over the years, and now a wide range of colors, and even crosses between the four original well-known types have gained popularity. Clivia Miniata is perhaps the most popular type which carries upright florets.
The other types have pendulous florets. Clivia Gardenii flowers during autumn, while Miniata, Caulescens, Nobilis and Mirabilis flower in spring. The seed is generally harvested during June, and sold or exchanged amongst growers until September each year. Multiplication of the plant is possible during spring. You may separate the bulbs growing at the stem's base. The separation should be done late in spring, after the blooming.
Interesting Facts about the Clivia Plant and Flower
- Common Name: Kaffir Lily and Bush Lily
- Botanic Name: Clivia miniata
- The Plant Needs: Water in spring and summer and shade, mulch, and good drainage in summer
- The Plant Hates: Hot, dry conditions (causes burning or bleaching of leaves), or frost and snow
- Best Look: The flowers look best when planted in clumps beneath a tree. These plants need a shady position, and can be planted on the shaded side of the house.
- Foliage: Lush green foliage all year round. New varieties have variegated foliage which is more disease prone. Other newer species have wider and lusher leaves that add a more fresh feel to the garden.
- Flowering: Miniata, Gardenii and Caulescens seedlings usually flower at three to four years while yellow varieties may require a slightly longer period. 'Nobilis' takes considerably longer and can only flower after seven or eight years.
- Good Points: Cut clivia flowers last long. Seed heads after flowering ripen in the following winter and they also look decorative. The plant requires low maintenance for a lush look. It can flourish against the root competition under shallow-rooted palms.
- Resting Period: The plant needs a resting period of about 6 to 8 weeks during winter, for regular blooming. During this time, you should shift clivia to a cold place (between 8 and 10 degrees centigrade). It will require less water and you should not fertilize it during this time.
- Plantation: The best time to plant clivia is during spring and early summer; though you may plant them successfully any time throughout the year. The plants should be transplanted during the second half of spring to early summer. The transplanted plants may skip one flowering season, but they may flower the next spring.
- Care: Seedlings take about 4-5 years to flower. Try to keep the soil dry in autumn and winter, and water the plant well in spring and summer. A complete fertilizer can be used in spring. You should fertilize the soil once in 2 or 3 weeks in summer. Dead head of the flower can be removed or left as it is, for the formation of seeds.
- Best Climate: These plants are grow in a wide range of climatic conditions, but you need to offer them shelter from the cold or frost in cool or frost prone areas. You can grow the plant as a houseplant in pots that can be kept under a shelter or a glasshouse during very cold months. Tasmania clivias require protection from frost and extreme cold. If the plants are grown directly under full sun, they may dry out and may become bleached and stressed.
- Flower Colors: Brilliantly colored flowers―bright oranges, apricots, reds, and yellows are currently very fashionable. Pale cream or white clivias are rare at present. Newer varieties include red-orange flowers and yellow flowers. Bi-colored flowers, for instance orange flower with a strong yellow in the center are also available.
- Cost: Yellow flowering clivias are not readily available in nurseries and are extremely expensive (from $50 to $60 for a small plant). Potted plants of orange clivias in flower are available at local nurseries from $15 to $25 for a 20cm (8") pot. A 15cm (6") pot is available for about $9-$12. Flowering plants can cost more than $100. The cost of seeds: $8 to $10 per seed.
- Growing Clivia: The plant needs full light, but it should never be under direct sunlight. A constant temperature of 18 and 20 degrees can result in good flowering. You should water the plant twice per week in summer and once in a week in winter. Over-watering the plant can lead to rotten roots. You should not keep the plant in a warm place during winter, as it will not flower. A potting mix containing leaves, soil, and sand is good for this plant. You should add some fresh soil each year for good growth and better flowering.
Clivia plants and flowers are very attractive. This flower graces floral gardens in America, Belgium, Australia, China, and, on a smaller scale, gardens in other countries too.