Clivia miniata: Kafir Lily

Clivia is a typical representative of a ‘classic’ decorative plant. This, of course, does not mean we should turn our backs on it — on the contrary — whole generations of flower-lovers speak in favour of its cultivation. All that is necessary is a cool spot in winter and we shall be rewarded with nice specimens that will flower every year.

The type species is native to Natal, South Africa, where it always grows amidst taller vegetation, in other words shaded from direct sunlight. Failure to flower may be caused by mistakes growers often make, such as leaving the plant in a warm room in winter (the correct temperature should be between 8 and 15°C (47 and 59°F), putting the flowerpot in a window that is sunny all day, or, putting it in full shade. Growth will be good, even vigorous in such conditions, but the plants will not flower.

Clivia does best in a window facing north or north-east. If it is sunny then the pot should be placed on the floor beneath the window so the plant ‘reaches for the light’. In winter the plant should be put in a cool spot and water should be withheld almost entirely; light conditions during this period are not important, a minimum of light suffices..

There are many types of clivias in cultivation, differing in the intensity of the coloration as well as in the habit of growth. Attractive is the cultivar ‘Striata’ with leaves longitudinally striped white or yellowish.

Other species occasionally cultivated include Clivia gardenii and C. nobilis, with flowers coloured deep red, almost scarlet.’

If you succeed in pollinating the flowers and ob-taining seeds, these should be sown as soon as they are gathered in January and the seedlings grown in continually warm conditions for at least l-1/2 years.

The growing medium must be heavy and nourishing, best of all loamy soil enriched with humus and with an addition of sand. Feed and water should be supplied in ample amounts during the growth period. Clivias should not be transplanted until after two or three years when they are thoroughly pot-bound. Before this, merely replace part of the com-post in the container with some fresh, nourishing compost.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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