Clivia - Natal or Bush Lily


Clivia miniata 'Forest Flame'



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers
  4. Common Issues
  5. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.


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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Provide a bright location with up to an hour or two of morning sunlight. Over-exposure to the direct light will result in bleached leaves, with deep shade causing basal rot.
  • Under-watering is always better than over-doing it with Clivia. Allow the top half of the soil to dry out in between waters, reducing this further in the autumn and winter.
  • Fertilise once a month using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed. While in bloom, you can use something that's high in potassium - 'Tomato' food is an excellent choice at monthly intervals.
  • Repot your specimen every few years in the next sized pot with adequate drainage. A 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix is best for this plant, as too water-retentive soil may result in root rot.
  • Dust the leaves regularly to avoid a build-up of dirt. This will not only increase the light-capturing efficiency of your specimen, but it'll also benefit its overall health with better-stored energy for foliar and flower growth.
  • Scroll down to 'Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers' to learn more about achieving flowers in the springtime.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸

A location with a splash of morning or evening sun is the ideal area for this species, as too dark settings will heighten the chance of root rot. If you're worried about its location being too dim, if a newspaper can be read whilst having your back towards the light source, you're good to go. Although the sunlight can be quite beneficial for a Clivia, avoid scorching the leaves with too intense rays - typical signs are murky yellow foliage and brown spots developing on the top side of the leaf.

In terms of the ideal location room, a north, east or west-facing window, or a semi-shaded conservatory are excellent areas for optimum growth.


Water - 🔸

Allow the top half of the soil to dry out in between irrigations. Once the pot feels light when lifted compared to when it was last watered, it's time for another hydration. It's always better to under-water a Clivia than over-do it, as they naturally grow in firm forests around southern Africa that can pursue short-lived droughts. Increasing the chance of a bloom in the spring can be achieved by decreasing the number of waters in the autumn and winter for its dormancy period. Never apply cold water to the roots, especially when it's in flower, due to the tendency to drop lose in some instances. Under-watering symptoms include curled or crispy leaves, wilted foliage, yellowing leaves and stunted growth. These issues are commonly caused by too much heat or sunlight, or pure forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include the yellowing or browning of lower leaves, stunted growth, wilting and a rotten core. Like Moth Orchids, water-logging is a common and serious issue among growers. Because of the compost's well-draining nature, excess moisture will flow through the potting mix and congregate in the bottom, causing root rot if left. Over-watering is commonly caused by too little light or heat or a lack of drying soil in between irrigations. If this has happened to yours, scroll down to 'Common Issues' for more information. 


Humidity - 🔸

Average room humidity is more than enough to occupy a Clivia, as too high humidity and poor air circulation may result in grey mould forming in the base's cubbyholes. Never mist the flowers to increase humidity as botrytis petal blight will develop.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

Use a fertiliser high in potassium to prolong its flowers during the blooming period - an excellent example would be a 'Tomato' feed. Regular fertilisers, for instance, BabyBio or Miracle-Gro, will still do the job but will favour foliar growth as well as the flowers. For the rest of the year, a standard fertiliser can be used as a monthly supplement to aid foliar and root growth.




Dormancy Care & Annual Blooms

Clivia can produce flowers year after year in the right care, during the spring or summer months. A good dormancy in the autumn and winter will allow the plant to become seasoned, preparing itself for a bloom in the spring. The tips below should be performed from autumn until early spring when the plant's growth rate is at its slowest.


Droughts, Droughts, Droughts!

It's all about under-watering with Clivia. Only rehydrate the soil once the majority has fully dried out and never promote water-logging to avoid root rot. Present a bright, partially sun-filled location with little fertilisation during this period to put pressure on the plant. Dust its foliage to increase the light-capturing efficiency, which in turn will help with its overall well-being and health. 


Potbound Roots

Like the Moth Orchid or Anthurium, the Clivia's roots must be pot bound to aid the chance of another bloom. They must feel restricted to send out a flower stalk for reproduction and to pass on its genes. Now, of course, there are other factors such as the temperature and daylight hours which can help this process, but starting with its roots is always a great idea. A bonus of keeping the plant pot bound is that you're far less likely to over-water the specimen, due to the ratio of soil to roots, which greatly favours the latter.


Temperature

Many houseplants cannot serve a good dormancy over the winter when the temperatures are more or less consistent throughout the year. Situating a Clivia in a cooler location during this time will empathise its inaction, thus focusing its energy on producing the flowers later on. Once spring is around the corner, keep the plant in the cooler setting until flower buds form at the base. Once this development is underway, supplement the plant with a fertiliser high in potassium fortnightly to elongate the flower's life - 'Tomato' food is best. Swap to a monthly 'Houseplant' fertiliser once the blooms have elapsed.




Common Issues with Clivia

Over-watering is the biggest issue with Clivia. Although moist soil is vital for long-lasting flowers, avoid keeping the soil saturated for extended periods to prevent the chance of rot. Allow the top third of the soil to become dry in between irrigations and always use tepid water to avert shocking the tender root systems. Typical signs of over-watering include yellowed leaves, stunted growth and a rotten base. If the base has fully softened over, this will spell the end of its life. For those who want to save it, remove the plant from the pot to investigate its root health - discard the affected roots using a clean pair of scissors, along with most of the sodden soil. If there aren't many roots remaining, repot it into a smaller pot, just enough to accommodate the stem. Do not discard the 'bulb' if no roots are present, keep it in a fresh batch of compost and water irregularly - it will re-root itself within the next few months.

Too much sunlight will lead to sun-scorch, with typical signs including brown patches, a murky yellow appearance, crispy or curled leaves, dry leaf-edges or little growth. Although low light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will also be a detriment in the likes of dehydration. A location that offers a little to no direct light will bring the optimum growth for a Clivia, as they aren't susceptible to the excessive sun in their natural environment of South Africa.

Too little light will cause the wilting of leaves and a pale centre but without a softened base. If this has occurred with your specimen, improve the amount of light fractionally, keeping in mind the heightened chance of environmental shock (when two locations offer too different growing conditions) and sun-scorch.

A lack of flowers can be an array of different issues, including a poorly spent dormancy, too much water or surrounding heat over the non-flowering months and an over-potted plant. The quality of its dormancy in the winter will depict whether or not your Clivia will bloom in the spring. Locations that present a consistent temperature all year round will inhibit a bloom, as the plant may fail to recognise the current season. Another factor of an absence of flowers could be to do with how much water it receives throughout the year; allow the majority of the soil to dry out in between irrigations during the autumn and winter, again, to fully winterise the plant. Restricted plants will generally flower better and more consistently than with those grown in too-large pots. As they'll feel threatened and nearing the end of their life, flowers will be sent out to reproduce and pass-on their genetic material. Scroll down to the next section of this article to learn about the ideal dormancy period, and how to entice annual blooms.

A lack of flowers is caused by an insufficient dormancy period, served in the winter months. Locations that offer near-similar temperatures all year round won't allow the plant to go dormant, resulting in poor spring growth. To achieve, situate in a location that dips to around 10°C  (51°F) with fewer waters. Allow the majority of the compost to dry out and provide a humidity tray while the radiators are operating.




The beautiful inflorescence of a Clivia miniata.



Origins

There are six recognised species within Clivia, all originating from Southern Africa. Live specimens were taken to England in the late 1810s by British explorers John Bowie and William Burchell. The C. nobilis was the first species to be named in the Clivia genus, which is named in honour of the Duchess of Northumberland, Charlotte Percy (née Clive). This genus is the cousin to the true Amaryllis, due to its similar leaf and flower structures. The most popular species of Clivia, C. miniata, can be translated from Latin to mean 'Cinnabar-red', which refers to the flower's deep red appearance. 



The Distribution of Clivia.


Temperature

6° - 25°C   (43° - 78°F).
H1c (Hardiness Zone 11) - Can be grown outdoors between late spring and summer throughout most of the UK while nighttime temperatures are above 8℃  (46℉).  If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing back indoors.


Spread

Up to 1m in height and width. The ultimate height will take between 6 - 10 years to achieve when repotted biannually.


Pruning

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean utensils or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.

Once the blooms have finished, the flower stalk can be removed with a clean pair of scissors without harming the base, unless there's a development of swelling seedpods. Never cut the foliage back to its base.


Propagation

Via Seed or Basal Offset Division.


An example of an offset that can be divided during the spring.


Basal Offset Division (Pups) (Easy) - For this method, it's best to divide in spring or summer and once the offshoots are at least a quarter of the mother plant's size, with several well-established leaves. Remove its pot and place your hand in between the junction that connects the two; soil may have to be brushed away to get a better grip. Gently push the pup downwards while supporting the mother plant until you hear a snap. Cautiously separate the root systems, keeping great care in keeping them damage-free. Place the new plantlet in a small pot with a well-draining potting mix, much similar to the original soil, and maintain the same care routines. 'Cactus & Succulent' compost is best, or you can make your own using multipurpose compost with added grit or perlite. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the six weeks, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life.


Flowers 

Their flowers are relatively large, trumpet-shaped flowers that are arranged in threes or fours at the top of one or two shafts, usually around 30cm in height. The individual flower lasts up to ten days, with the overall show spanning two months - typical colours are white, yellow and orange. Most specimens will bloom within the region of September and March but can flower at any given time.

If you'd like to get your specimen to bloom in time for the festive period, scroll up to the section labelled 'Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers for more information!


Repotting

During the summer, repot every three to four years using 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled compost. It's unadvised to plant a Clivia into a pot which lacks drainage holes, as the chance of basal or root rot is high. Although the rule of thumb is to repot a houseplant biannually, Clivia will thrive and bloom for many years if their root systems are restricted. Never perform a transplant whilst the plant is in flower or in its dormancy (during winter). For matured specimens, introduce some grit to promote a more robust root ball as well as the reduced chance of root rot; click on this link for more information on how to perform the perfect transplant.

Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for spider mites, thrips, aphids, mealybugs and snails / slugs. Common diseases with Clivia are bulb or root rot, powdery mildew, leaf-spot disease and botrytis petal blight. Most diseases are caused by excess moisture in the soil or on the flowers or foliage; maintain dry leaves and always avoid water-logging for best results. For more info on how to address any of these issues, click on this link - Identifying Common Houseplant Viruses & Diseases


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

Specimens are likely to be found in some garden centres during the spring or summer.



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