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Clivias: Easy-Care House Plants

These herbaceous evergreen plants flower best if pot bound.

A kaffir lily glows in the sunlight.

The botanical name Clivia is named in honor of Lady Charlotte Clive, the Duchess of Northumberland, who was the first English gardener to grow the plant in her greenhouse in Great Britain. They are natives of South Africa and were found by plant explorer William Burchell in 1815 growing in the Eastern Cape Province.

Clivias make easy-care house plants for those of us who live in cold regions but grow outdoors with great abandon in areas with mild winters. Their strap leaves are dark green and similar to those of an amaryllis in shape, as they are in the same family.

There are five different species and clivia miniata is the one that we see most frequently in homes today. It has several cultivated varieties, including:

‘FireLily’ – tubular orange flowers with yellow throats.
‘Striata’ – orange flowers and white and green striped leaves.
‘Aura’ – yellow cultivar.
‘Golden Dragon’ – yellow cultivar.
‘Victoria Peach’– peach cultivar.

They are not demanding plants, but they can be expensive.

In summer, water them well and fertilize them once a month but let the soil surface dry out between waterings.

They need a winter rest period in a cooler spot (40-50 F) and reduced watering and no fertilizer in order to bloom well in late winter.

They flower best if pot bound, and flower clusters that do not emerge completely from the base of the leaves may indicate an inadequate cool period.

The Clivia Society has a helpful website:

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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