Many gardeners know that the winter doldrums can be eased with flowering houseplants, and clivia is one of the best choices. This South African native is related to amaryllis, but it grows from a thickened crown with many fleshy roots instead of a bulb. Clivia has handsome dark green, straplike leaves arrayed like a fan. Between midwinter and early spring, clivia sends up one or more flower stalks topped with a cluster of up to 20 trumpet-shaped flowers. Bright orange is the standard flower color, but hybridizers have also introduced yellow and peach shades in recent years. With a little care, this tough, long-lived plant may become a family heirloom.
Common name: Clivia
Botanical name: Clivia miniata
Plant type: Evergreen perennial; mostly grown as a houseplant
Zones: 9 to 11 outdoors (in dry-winter climates)
Height: 18 to 24 inches
• Sun: Shade outdoors; bright indirect light indoors
• Soil: Well drained loam (outdoors) or potting mix
• Moisture: Average; keep fairly dry during winter
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: Cut back flower stalks when blooms fade.
• Fertilizer: Diluted soluble fertilizer monthly from spring through fall
Pests and diseases
• ‘Good Hope’ has medium yellow flowers.
• ‘Variegata’ has green and white streaked foliage.
• If possible, move potted clivias outside for the summer after all threat of frost is over. Keep clivias in shade at all times to prevent leaf burn.
• For reliable flowering, clivia needs a two month rest period in a cool (45° to 55°F) location, like a basement (with lights) or unheated spare room in late fall to early winter.
• Clivias actually do best when somewhat potbound, so don’t repot until the roots are quite cramped.
All in the family
• Clivia is a member of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), a large group of bulbs and herbaceous plants.
• Other garden bulbs and houseplants in the amaryllis family include amaryllis (Hippeastrum), snowdrops (Galanthus), daffodils (Narcissus) and rain lily (Zephyranthus).
Where to buy
• Colorado Clivia Company; 303-292-1002; www.coclivia.com/sunshop
• Park Seed; 800-845-3369; http://parkseed.com
• White Flower Farm; 800-420-2852; www.whiteflowerfarm.com