Monday, September 28, 2009

Clivia — a garden delight

My Clivia garden is currently providing a colourful spectacle. Clivia is a wonderful flowering plant. Elegant and imposing, it’s easier to grow than an orchid and more unusual than an amaryllis

A Clivia plant will produce dense clusters of lily-like flowers. Equally important, the strap-like, dark evergreen leaves are virtually blemish free, making Clivia an attractive foliage plant, even when not in bloom.

Given the regal quality of the plant, a Clivia is surprisingly easy to grow. Clivia are hardy, low maintenance, shade-loving plants. They don’t like wet feet and need to be well-drained, may tolerate a little early morning sun, but prefer full shade, and are frost tender.

Six species of Clivia are endemic to South Africa, the most commonly grown being Clivia miniata, which is now cultivated all around the world.  Many Clivia growers are using the species to create interspecific hybrids (the crossing or breeding of two species of the same genus). This is resulting in many varied shapes and colours in Clivia.

In late winter or spring, tall stalks shoot up from the leaves and bear crowded clusters of brightly coloured 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.

The long-lasting flowers are usually orange with yellowish centres, but there are forms that bear scarlet, dark red, salmon, and yellow flowers.   Little is known about the pollinators of Clivia and studies are now being undertaken to discover what pollinates it. Seed is dispersed by birds.

If you have a shady, frost-free corner in your garden, or if you would like to grow a spectacular flowering house plant, give Clivia a try. You will be well rewarded.

For the full story on propagating and growing Clivias visit my website now.