Clivia is a beautiful tender perennial native to South America. Clivias can be grown as houseplants, and with some special prompting, can be brought into bloom in winter. The Chicago Botanic Garden suggests 30 days of cool nights, below 50 degrees (but above freezing), followed by six to eight weeks of household temperatures but very little water. Showy orange flowers are born in clusters on long stems, held over strong straplike leaves.
Clivia roots are thick, fleshy and well-equipped for water storage. On a mature specimen the swollen mass of roots often becomes so large that it will completely fill the pot, forcing the growing medium up and over the container’s edge. Only when this begins to happen should a Clivia plant be moved to a larger pot.
In general, the plants do best when their roots are somewhat constricted by a small pot, so it is best to resist the temptation to place the plant in a pot much larger than the one you are moving it from. Fibrous loam, some coarse grit, decayed manure and leaf mold make a good potting mixture.
Clivias bloom better when pot-bound, so let yours expand to fill the container over time.
Clivia miniata is the one most commonly found in cultivation in the United States. In late winter or spring, tall stalks shoot up from the leaves and bear crowded clusters of brightly colored blossoms, after reaching 3-5 years of age. These evergreen plants typically have a large head (umbel) of between 12 and 20 trumpet shaped flowers on top of a thick stem.
Their long-lasting flowers are usually orange with yellowish centers, but there are forms that bear scarlet, dark red, salmon, and yellow flowers. Clivias enjoy much more popularity in Europe, Japan, China, and Australia than North America. They are known as the “Queen of Houseplants”.
With patience and practice, gardeners can enjoy a large display of clivia flowers in winter, just when the soul craves bloom.
Clivias can be increased by division, but are most often propagated by separation of offsets, in late spring or early summer after the plants have flowered. After about three or four years, plants will usually begin producing one or more offsets each year. When an individual offset has developed three or four leaves of its own, it can be cut from the parent plant, being careful to include some roots, and placed in small pots of its own.