Clivia is a small genus in the family Amaryllidaceae.
There are five or six species growing in southern Africa. Four species, Clivia
caulescens, C. gardenii, C. nobilis (Fig. 1), C. miniata (Fig. 2) and
a few hybrids can be grown as house plants in temperate regions. In Danish homes,
the most common species is C. miniata. Although it was almost forgotten
for some decades it now calls for increasing interest which it deserves both for
its beauty and its willingness to flower (Fig. 4). Clivia miniata also
occurs in a yellow form Clivia miniata f. citrina (Fig. 3A). Clivia's
are plants of the forest floor but in 2002, a new species C. mirabilis
was described from an area with summer drought and full sunshine. Another species
C. robusta which may be considered a subspecies of C. gardenii is
a marsh plant which also occurs in streaming water and then the roots are used
The leaves are in two rows (distichous) and the closely spaced
leaf bases form in principle an above-ground bulb. Since the leaf bases are not
swollen as in a normal bulb, it may be more appropriate to describe the system
as a short vertical rhizom. The leaves of C. miniata 8-10 cm broad and
just over 0.5 m long, while the leaves of the other species are 3-4 cm broader
and 20-30 cm longer. The roots (Fig. 3) are succulent and more than 0.5 cm thick
and very brittle (fragile). Hence, it is recommendable to take great care during
re-potting. The flower has three segments in each whorl of sepals, petals, stamens,
and carpels. The colours are red to yellow and characteristic of bird pollinated
flowers. In nature most Clivia species are pollinated by sun-birds but
C. miniata having upright flowers is mainly pollinated by insects. Bees
collect the pollen while hover-flies is attracted by the nectar.
leaves (and roots) are excellent topics for self-tuition in plant anatomy. As
general for parallel nerved leaves, the large stomata are oriented with their
long axis parallel to the axis of the leaf. Hence, a transversal section of the
leaf results in a transversal section of the stomata (Fig 5).
Clivia is easy to grow. Ordinary commercial soil
for house plants or soil from the garden mixed with some peat soil (sphagnum)
is an excellent medium. The roots should be covered only by two cm of soil. During
the growth period watering is only necessary twice a week and fertilization twice
a month. To obtain flowers it is important to allow a Clivia at least 3-4
weeks and preferable 5-6 weeks of rest around the turn of the year. This means
no watering and no fertilization and the plant should be placed in light and cool
environments such as an unheated room or a winter garden with a daily mean temperature
between 12 and 18 °C. The lighter and the cooler the plant is kept in the
resting period the earlier it comes to bloom. The time for flowering can to a
certain extent be controlled by the time the plant is allowed to rest. This may
be particularly interesting if you have more than one plant at your disposal.
Then it is possible to extend the length of the total flowering period. In the
summertime, care must be taken to avoid the broad leaved C. miniata to
be sun-burned in direct sun at mid day.
When the inflorescence appears,
it is important not to begin watering the plant before the shaft is almost fully
elongated. If watering is started too early the elongation growth will stop and
the flowers of C. miniata are not lifted above the leaves. C. nobilis
has a naturally shorter inflorescence and the flowers are situated between the
tips of the leaves (Fig. 6). C. nobilis may flower both summer and winter
but at higher latitudes, like in Denmark, it must be given as much light as possible
during winter if the flowers shall obtain full colour and not turn pale. Compare
Figs. 1 and 6 showing flowers from the same plant.
The flowers can self
pollinate and it is a very good idea to pollinate C. miniata flowers artificially.
By doing so, the plant will produce at first green but later bright red two-three
cm large berries. Pollination is done by brushing the pollen sacs against the
pistil (visible in Figs. 7 and12) of all flowers in the inflorescence. The decorative
berries will not fall of the plant until after the next flowering (Fig.8). The
fruits may stay on the plant so long that the seeds begin to germinate while still
attached to the mother plant. This phenomenon is called vivipary (giving live
birth). At first the succulent primary root appears and often one or two leaves
also appear (Figs. 8 and 10).
Normally, there is no problems with pests
on Clivia, but if you have scale insects in your environment, they will
also attack Clivia (Figs. 9 and 11). The insects prefer the lower leaf
side towards the tip of the leaf and the very basal part of the leaf, where they
are easily overlooked. Generally, it is useless to spray scale insects with insecticides.
Squeeze them between your fingers or wipe the leaf with a wet rag. After heavy
flowering symptoms of lack of nutrients may appear in the form of yellow or wilting
leaf tips and edges. This can be prevented by use af a nitrogen fertilizer in
the growth period.
Propagation of Clivia is done by separating
the lateral shoots when they have three-four leaves. Seed propagation after self
pollination is also possible. However, such plants are often weaker than the mother
plant and it may take several years before the new plant is growing well, while
a detached lateral shoot can flower when three years old. Re-potting is only needed
after several years. In principle, Clivia may grow an indefinite number
of years if the simple rules above are followed and a Clivia may be inherited
during generations within the family.
These years Clivia miniata
is rediscovered as a house plant and it is now available in many larger market
gardens and nurseries although relatively expensive. Usually, in Denmark, a single
stemmed plant costs around 25 Euro and for plants with four-five shoots the price
is about 70 Euro. C. nobilis and C. caulescens having floral leaves
with green tips are rarely for sale in Denmark. Early in the 20th century,
C. miniata was very much sought after and for a period it was nearly exterminated.
Hence, protection was necessary. - An international club for Clivia lowers
can be contacted at: http://www.clivianet.org
.........H. S. Heide-Jørgensen,
..................Updated March 2011