Clivia - add some bold colour

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

By Brooke Niven  - Certificate III Horticulture student, Wodonga TAFE

Clivias are a great plant to liven up a shady corner or colour up a lifeless patio.

They’re often grown for their elegant emerald green, smooth, strap like leaves.  From late winter to early spring you will be surprised with beautiful clusters of yellow-throated, trumpet shaped flowers coming in vibrant orange, salmon, cream, and reddish-orange colours. The pendulous flower heads are held above the plant on thick, dark green stalks. They are long lasting as cut flowers. Seeds can take up to a year to mature and the seed heads look decorative.

Also known as Kaffir Lily, Clivias originate from South Africa and were discovered by Europeans in the early 1800s. Kew botanist and horticulturalist John Lindley named them after Lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland who first cultivated them in the U.K. They were brought to her by a bold Kew gardener and botanical collector named James Bowie. Clivias soared in popularity as indoor plants in the Victorian era. They are still a popular pot plant these days, particularly in China, Korea and Japan. So cherished in the city of Changchun, north-eastern China that the flower has been adapted as the cities emblem. The most sought after hybrids come from China. High quality variegated forms can fetch thousands of dollars.  

Clivias will thrive in a warm, shady spot that is protected from frosts and harsh afternoon sun. They will tolerate heavy shade and grow well indoors or in dappled light under trees. They need free draining soil and will not tolerate wet feet. It is a versatile, hardy plant that is suitable for growing in pots and containers. They need regular watering in spring and summer but keep their soil drier in autumn and winter. Feed in spring with a complete fertiliser.  Propagating Clivias is easy as the plant grows ‘pups’ and they can be divided during spring after flowering. Remove offsets from the mother plant carefully, ensuring you have roots on your ‘pup’ and that you haven’t snapped off the fleshy base. Given the right spot, you will have a rather showy plant with minimal maintenance.

Diary -  The Friends of the Albury Botanic Gardens are having a plant sale on Sunday November 18th.  The sale if from 11 am until 2pm at the nursery behind the curators cottage at the Albury Botanic Gardens – lots of great plants available to purchase at reasonable prices.

Photo – A Clivea in the grounds of Wodonga TAFE,  a showy plant with minimal maintenance.


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