Clivias are popular plants with home gardeners because they are shade-loving and flower over winter. They are evergreen plants that don’t lose their dark green foliage like other plants grown from tubers.
Their flowers are quite spectacular and help to brighten up an otherwise dull winter’s day. In temperate and tropical areas, clivias can be grown outdoors under the shade of established trees. However, if you live in an area that experiences cold winters with frost and snow, you should plant clivias in pots and bring them indoors during the colder months.
Quick Start Guide To Growing Clivias
- Clivias grow best in temperature ranges from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius). They need protection from frost in cold areas.
- Grow in well-drained soil that has been enriched with lots of compost. The ideal pH is between 5 and 6.
- It is best to grow clivias in dappled shade. They can handle some morning sun but must be protected from the hot midday and afternoon sun.
- Clivias require regular watering in spring and summer, usually once a week. Plants should be watered sparingly in winter as they go dormant.
- Plants should be fertilized during their main growing season in spring, summer, and fall. To encourage lots of blooms, use a liquid fertilizer in summer and early fall that is high in potassium.
In Which Hardiness Zones Can You Grow Clivias?
Clivias grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9 through to 11. They originate from South Africa, so they prefer warmer temperatures. Their ideal temperature range is from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius).
They can handle more tropical temperatures if they’re grown in the shade and not exposed to the hot afternoon sun. In cold climates, clivias should be grown in pots and then brought indoors when the temperature starts to drop, and there’s a danger of frost.
If growing indoors, clivias prefer a bright spot out of direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight can burn the foliage.
What Soil Is Best For Growing Clivias?
Because clivias grow naturally beneath trees in forested areas, they prefer soil that has a lot of organic matter added. The soil pH should be between 5 and 6, so slightly on the acidic side.
It’s also important that the soil is well-drained as clivias do not like having wet feet. Too much water in the soil could cause the tubers and fleshy roots to rot and die.
If growing your clivias in pots, use an orchid mix that contains lots of bark. This allows for adequate drainage but may mean that you need to water your plant twice a week in warmer weather.
When planting in a pot, make sure that you spread the roots out over the mix and then fill in around them. You can also make your own mix using composted bark chips, coconut coir, and coarse builder’s sand. Mix up equal parts of these materials and add some slow-release fertilizer.
Where Should You Plant Your Clivia?
Clivias grown outdoors in temperate climates should be planted in well-drained soil in a spot that receives shade in the afternoon. When used as landscape plants, clivias are often planted under tall growing trees that let a little dappled sunlight through.
Clivias that are planted in deep shade will tend to grow a little leggy and not produce as many flowers. Therefore, a little morning sun or dappled sunlight is ideal for your plants to grow well and produce many lovely blooms.
However, if you live in a cold climate, you should plant your clivia in a pot. In the warmer months, you can place your plant outside under the shade of some trees or on a deck or patio that receives afternoon shade.
Then, once the weather starts getting cold, bring the plant inside to overwinter. It can be kept in a spot that doesn’t receive an abundance of light until you see the first flower buds start to form.
At this point, you want to move your plant to a brightly lit spot but out of direct sunlight. This is also the time to start increasing the watering frequency and to start giving your plant a little fertilizer. The appearance of flower buds signifies that the plant has come out of dormancy and is once again in its active growth phase.
How Much Water Do Clivias Need?
Clivias need adequate water during spring, summer, and fall but can be left quite dry during the winter months when they are dormant. In the warm weather, you can water your plants once or twice a week but slow this down to around once a month in winter.
It’s important to slow down the watering during winter to give the plants a rest. Without this resting phase, the plant may not flower and will continue to just grow more green leaves.
It’s best to only water when the soil or the potting medium is completely dry. At this point, water deeply and let any excess water drain away, especially when growing in pots.
Watering deeply encourages the roots to grow downward where they can access the water. This promotes healthy root growth and support for the plant. With clivias, it’s better to underwater than overwater, so be aware of this.
How To Fertilize Your Clivias
Clivias need regular feeding in the warmer months. During spring and summer, give your plants a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. This will encourage strong growth and allow the tubers to store up enough energy to produce their flowers late in winter.
Hold off fertilizing in the late fall and early winter. Then, when the first flower buds appear in late winter, start to fertilize your plants again with a liquid fertilizer.
If growing in pots, you can also apply a slow-release fertilizer in early spring and then again in early fall. With a slow-release fertilizer, the plant will only take up the feed when it needs it.
What To Do Once The Plant Has Finished Flowering
Once all the blooms are spent, you should cut back the flower stems right at the base of the plant. This is also a great time to give your plant a general clean-up by removing any yellowing or damaged leaves.
Clivias grown in pots can be left undisturbed for a number of years as they don’t mind being pot-bound. Just make sure that their roots never sit in water.
Is Clivia An Annual Or A Perennial?
Clivias are evergreen perennials. This means that they will grow for many, many years, but their leaves don’t die down like other tuberous plants. Their dark green, strappy leaves will add some lushness to your landscape while the plant is dormant at the beginning of winter.
Then, in late winter, the plant will break into color with its lovely bright blooms. Traditionally, clivia blooms are bright orange, but many hybrids have been produced, and these plants are now available with both yellow and white flowers as well.
Clivia blooms also make great cut flowers and will last well in a vase indoors. When using them for cut flowers, add a little sugar to the water in the vase as this will help to preserve them for longer.
How To Propagate Clivias
A lot of popular varieties of clivias available today are hybrids or cultivars. Therefore, if you want to ensure that the propagated plants are identical to the parents, the best way to propagate them is by division.
This should be done once the plant has finished flowering in late spring or early summer. Plants grown in the ground should be carefully dug up to avoid damaging the roots too much. Remove as much of the soil as you can.
Then, use a sharp knife to separate the individual plants. Once you cut through the crown of the plant, you can gently pull apart the roots. Make sure that each plant has an adequate root system to ensure healthy growth.
These plants can now be either planted in the ground or into a pot. Ensure that the pot is just large enough to accommodate the root system but not too large. This is because clivias do like to be a little pot-bound.
If you find any smaller, younger offshoots in a clump, these can be separated as well but bear in mind that they will take around 2 to 3 years before they will flower.
How To Grow Clivias From Seed
Clivias can also be grown from seeds, but these may not grow to be identical to the parent plant. If you want to collect your own seeds, let the plant flower but don’t remove the spent flower stems so that the plant produces seeds.
After flowering, the plant will produce large yellow or red berries in spring. You can pick these berries and remove the flesh to get to the seeds within. Alternately, you can leave the berries on the plant until they dry. This will make it easier to extract the seeds.
Once you’ve collected the seeds, wash them in a mild fungicide. Then you just press these seeds into a seed-raising mix without fully burying them. It should take around four weeks for the seeds to germinate.
Because clivias are quite slow growers, it can take up to 5 years for a plant to grow from seed to flower. But in the meantime, you’ll have lovely green foliage to add to your landscape or indoor plant collection.
Common Problems And How To Fix Them
Whether grown in pots or in the garden, clivias have very few problems as long as they’re not overwatered. However, there are some common garden pests that may invade your clivias.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Slugs and snails. These pests will eat the foliage and may even chomp on the flower buds. The best way to get rid of them is to pick them off by hand and place them in a bucket of salty water.
- Fungus gnats. These flying insects lay eggs on your plants, and then the larvae will eat the new roots and also infect the plant with fungal spores. The best way to deal with these is to use those yellow sticky paper traps to trap the adults before they have a chance to lay their eggs.
- Whiteflies and thrips. These annoying little pests can congregate in large numbers on your plants and cause damage to the foliage. It’s best to trap with the same sticky traps that you use for fungus gnats.
- Black and yellow striped amaryllis caterpillar. This little pest will munch its way through the lovely green foliage on your clivias. The best way to get rid of them is to pick them off and put them into a bucket of soapy water. Alternatively, you can spray your plants with an organic pesticide such as neem oil.
- Aphids, mealybugs, and scale. These are sap-sucking insects. They will suck the life right out of your plants. You can control these by washing the leaves with some soapy water or dab the insects with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
- Root Rot. If you’ve overwatered your plants, they may develop root rot. Once this happens, there’s not much chance of saving the plant. However, you can prevent root rot by drenching the soil with a fungicide that is high in phosphorus.
Using Clivias In Landscape Design
Clivias are extensively used in landscape design because of their attractive strappy, green leaves and the stunning flowers that they produce. To create a stunning display, it’s best to use clivias in a mass planting either around the base of trees or as a border in a shady part of the garden.
In general, clivias are one of the best solutions for filling all those shady spots in your garden. They’re relatively easy to grow and will not only provide a lovely ground cover of green foliage, but their flowers will brighten up even the dullest winter day.