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All You Need to Know About Clivias

What are Clivias?

Clivias, with their striking bell-shaped blooms and elegant foliage, is a testament to nature’s ability to produce gems fit for any setting. These perennial beauties, hailing from the shaded woodlands of South Africa, have steadily climbed the ladder of gardening popularity, becoming a beloved addition to homes and gardens worldwide.

The allure of Clivias doesn’t just lie in its visual appeal. Their robustness, adaptability, and relatively low maintenance needs make them a favorite among green thumbs and novices alike. Whether you’re considering adding a Clivia to your plant family or are merely curious about this radiant flora, this guide offers an in-depth exploration of its origin, characteristics, care requirements, and more. Dive in and discover the vibrant world of Clivias!


clivia plants

Origin and History of Clivias

Native to the woodland habitats in South Africa, Clivias have a history that’s as vibrant as their flowers. Renowned for their striking beauty, they were named after Lady Charlotte Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, in the early 19th century. Since their discovery, Clivias have been revered and cultivated by horticulturists worldwide.


clivia flowers


Why Clivias are Popular Among Gardeners

Their robust nature combined with magnificent bell-shaped flowers makes them a favorite among gardeners. With relatively low maintenance requirements and the ability to thrive in shaded areas, they provide beauty without demanding constant attention.


orange clivia flowers growing


Anatomy and Characteristics of Clivias


Physical Appearance: Leaves, Stems, and Flowers

Clivias present a robust assembly of deep green, strap-like leaves. These leaves, often growing to lengths of up to 2 feet, create a basal rosette formation. Their arching and broad pattern forms a thick clump, creating a lush backdrop for the plant’s prominent blooms.


blooming colour of clivias


Emerging from this verdant foundation, the Clivia’s stems or peduncles rise tall, typically in late winter or early spring. These stems can reach heights between 18 to 24 inches. Atop these stems, you’ll find the true crowning glory of the Clivia – its vibrant inflorescences. Each stem holds a bouquet of up to 12 to 20 funnel-shaped flowers. Their trumpet-like structure and bright colors—ranging from fiery oranges and sunny yellows to rarer shades like red and even peach—make them a show-stopping spectacle.


Color Variations and Common Types

beautiful clivias


Clivias exhibit a range of color variations, with the Clivia miniata being the most well-known species. Its classic, intense orange blooms have made it a household favorite. However, breeders and enthusiasts have over the years produced diverse varieties.

  • Clivia miniata ‘Solomone Yellow‘: This variant flaunts cheerful, sunny yellow blossoms.
  • Clivia miniata ‘Durban Dawn’: A sought-after variant for its deep, almost red hues.

Modern hybridization efforts have also introduced pink, white, and even multicolored Clivias to the market, further broadening the spectrum of choices available to gardening aficionados.


Unique Characteristics That Set Them Apart

What sets Clivias apart, beyond their obvious visual charm, is their resilience. These plants are well-suited for both indoor and shaded outdoor environments, making them versatile choices for various gardening needs.

They have a rhizomatous root system, which not only aids in water storage but also lends the plant its ability to survive periods of neglect and drought. Moreover, the berry-like fruit that succeeds the flowers contains seeds, adding another dimension to its appearance. These bright red berries can be decorative but are notably toxic if ingested.

In essence, Clivias are a blend of beauty and hardiness. Their striking appearance, combined with their ability to thrive in a range of conditions, makes them an exceptional choice for both seasoned gardeners and those just beginning their botanical journey.


How to Grow and Care for Clivias

growing and caring for clivias


Optimal Growing Conditions

  1. Light Requirements: Clivias thrive best in bright, indirect light. They naturally grow under the canopy of trees, so direct sunlight, especially during peak hours, can scorch their leaves. However, insufficient light can lead to fewer blooms. A north or east-facing window, or a shaded spot in your garden, is ideal for these plants.
  2. Soil Type: A well-draining soil mix is crucial for Clivias. They’re prone to root rot if left in stagnant water. Many gardeners opt for a mix of standard potting soil, sand, and perlite or an orchid mix to ensure proper drainage.
  3. Watering Needs: Clivias are drought-tolerant and prefer their roots to dry out between watering sessions. Water them when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry. During their dormant period in winter, reduce the frequency of watering.

Propagation Techniques

  1. Seeds: After the flowering phase, Clivias produce bright berries containing seeds. To grow Clivias from seeds, extract them from the berries, and plant them in a well-draining mix. Keep in mind that growing from seed is a slower method, and it might take years for the plant to bloom.
  2. Offsets: As Clivias mature, they produce offsets or “pups” around the base of the main plant. These can be gently separated and planted in their own pots, ensuring they have some roots attached.
  3. Division: If your Clivia has become too crowded, you can divide it during repotting. Simply take the plant out, split it into smaller sections ensuring each has roots, and plant them separately.

Common Pests and How to Deal with Them

clivia pest


While Clivias are relatively hardy, they’re not immune to pests. Common ones include:

  1. Mealybugs: These appear as tiny white cotton-like patches on leaves and stems. They can be removed using a soft brush or cloth dipped in soapy water.
  2. Spider Mites: Manifested by fine webs on the plant, they can be dealt with by increasing humidity or using neem oil.

General Care Tips

  • Feeding: During the growing season, a balanced liquid fertilizer can be applied once a month to provide essential nutrients.
  • Temperature: Clivias prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). They can tolerate cooler temperatures but should be protected from frost.
  • Dormancy: In winter, Clivias go through a dormant period. It’s essential to reduce watering and avoid fertilizing during this time.

Tips for Indoor Clivia Care

indoors clivia care


Pot Selection and Drainage

When choosing a container for your Clivia, ensure it has ample drainage holes. These plants don’t appreciate standing in water, and stagnant moisture can lead to root rot. A terracotta or clay pot is ideal, as it’s porous and allows for better air circulation around the roots. Since Clivias prefer to be root-bound to some extent, pick a pot that’s only slightly larger than the root ball. This can encourage better blooming.


Ideal Indoor Temperatures and Humidity Levels

Temperature plays a pivotal role in the well-being of indoor Clivias. Aim to maintain a temperature range of 60-75°F (15-24°C) for optimal growth. However, during the winter dormancy period, they can tolerate cooler temperatures down to 50°F (10°C), which can stimulate blooming in the following season.

As for humidity, Clivias are fairly adaptable. Average indoor humidity levels are generally suitable. If your home’s air is particularly dry, consider placing a humidifier nearby or placing the pot atop a tray filled with water and pebbles, ensuring the pot’s base isn’t submerged.


Pruning and Maintenance for Longevity

Regular maintenance is key to keep your indoor Clivia looking fresh and vigorous:

  • Leaf Pruning: Older leaves at the base of the plant can yellow over time. Use sterilized scissors or pruning shears to remove these leaves, ensuring a clean cut close to the base.
  • Deadheading Spent Blooms: Once the flowers have faded, trim off the flower stalk at the base. This prevents the plant from wasting energy on seed production and encourages a potential second bloom.
  • Repotting: Clivias prefer to be a bit root-bound, but if the plant outgrows its pot or the soil seems exhausted, consider repotting. This is also an excellent time to divide your Clivia if desired.

Watering and Fertilization

It’s crucial not to overwater indoor Clivias:

  • Watering Routine: Let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings. Water deeply, ensuring the water flows out of the drainage holes, then empty the saucer to avoid the plant sitting in water.
  • Fertilization: During the active growth season (spring and summer), feed your Clivia with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month. Avoid fertilizing during its winter dormancy.

Indoor Clivias are a delightful addition to any home with their luscious green leaves and bright flowers. With the right care, these plants can thrive indoors, providing a touch of nature’s beauty to your living spaces year-round.


Clivia Blooming: Getting the Best Flowers


Blooming is undoubtedly the most awaited phase for Clivia enthusiasts. When well-taken care of, Clivias showcase a flamboyant display of bright, bell-shaped flowers that are a sight to behold. To ensure your Clivia blooms to its fullest potential, consider the following guidelines:


Factors That Influence Blooming

  1. Age of the Plant: Young Clivias may not bloom immediately. Most plants begin to produce flowers once they reach 3 to 5 years of age. Patience is key!
  2. Light Exposure: While Clivias prefer indirect light, adequate brightness is crucial for blooming. Ensure your plant receives enough filtered sunlight. A spot near an east or north-facing window is often ideal.
  3. Temperature: Clivias need a cooler dormant period to set blooms. During winter, placing them in a cooler spot, around 50°F (10°C), for several weeks can induce flowering in the upcoming season.
  4. Watering Schedule: Reducing the frequency of watering during dormancy (winter) can also encourage the plant to bloom when spring arrives.

clivia waiting to bloom


How to Encourage a Clivia to Bloom

  1. Dormancy Phase: Allow the plant a period of rest in winter. Reduce watering and expose the plant to cooler temperatures. This mimics its natural habitat conditions and stimulates blooming.
  2. Nutrient Boost: While Clivias don’t need excessive fertilization, providing a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season can give them the nutrients required for a vibrant bloom.
  3. Avoid Disturbance: If you’re anticipating blooms, try not to move the plant or change its environment drastically. Clivias appreciate stability, especially during the lead-up to their blooming phase.

Dealing with Non-Blooming Clivias

If your Clivia isn’t blooming, don’t be disheartened. It’s not uncommon and can be due to various factors:

  1. Age Factor: As mentioned, younger plants might not bloom until they mature.
  2. Environmental Stress: If the plant has been moved or exposed to drastic environmental changes, it might skip a blooming season.
  3. Insufficient Dormancy: Without a proper dormancy period with reduced watering and cooler temperatures, the plant might not bloom.
  4. Overwatering: Too much water can deter blooming. Ensure you’re following the watering guidelines closely.
  5. Pot Size: A pot that’s too spacious can lead the plant to focus more on root growth than on blooming. Consider repotting into a slightly tighter pot if you think this might be the issue.

A blooming Clivia is a testament to the care and patience of the gardener. By understanding the plant’s requirements and fine-tuning care techniques, you can witness the spectacular flowering display of this botanical gem year after year.


Common Mistakes When Caring for Clivias and How to Avoid Them

caring for clivias


Caring for Clivias, like any other plant, involves a learning curve. While they’re relatively forgiving, there are common pitfalls that gardeners, especially those new to Clivias, might encounter. Recognizing these mistakes and understanding how to avoid them can set you on a path to a flourishing Clivia garden.


Overwatering and Root Rot

  • Mistake: A frequent misstep is overwatering, which can lead to root rot, a condition where the roots become mushy and decay due to excess moisture.
  • Solution: Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. During its winter dormancy, water even less frequently. Always ensure that the pot has good drainage to prevent water from stagnating at the bottom.

Incorrect Light Exposure

  • Mistake: Exposing Clivias to direct sunlight, especially during peak hours, can scorch their leaves. Conversely, insufficient light can hinder blooming.
  • Solution: Place your Clivias in bright, indirect light. A location near a north or east-facing window or a spot shielded from the intense midday sun is ideal. Monitor the leaves for signs of sunburn (brown or bleached spots) and adjust the location if necessary.

Neglecting Repotting and Root Inspection

  • Mistake: Keeping Clivias in the same pot for too long without inspecting or changing the soil can lead to nutrient deficiencies or overcrowded roots.
  • Solution: While Clivias prefer to be slightly root-bound, it’s beneficial to repot and refresh the soil every 2-3 years. This gives you a chance to inspect the roots for any signs of rot or disease, divide the plant if needed, and provide it with a fresh, nutrient-rich medium.

Skipping the Dormancy Period

  • Mistake: Not providing Clivias with a proper dormant phase in the winter, thus preventing them from blooming in the following season.
  • Solution: Reduce watering and expose the plant to cooler temperatures during winter. This dormant phase mimics their natural habitat and preconditions them for spring blooming.


  • Mistake: Just as with overwatering, over-fertilizing can harm Clivias by causing salt buildup in the soil and potentially burning the roots.
  • Solution: Feed Clivias with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during their active growing season (spring and summer). Always follow the recommended dosage on the label, and remember that less is often more when it comes to fertilizing.

In essence, while Clivias are resilient, they flourish best under specific conditions. By being observant and responsive to the plant’s signals, and by avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a long and healthy life for your Clivias.


Uses and Significance of Clivias in Gardens and Homes

clivias as houseplants

Clivias, with their striking appearance and relatively easy care, have found their way into homes and gardens around the world. But beyond their obvious beauty, Clivias have a multitude of uses and carry a deep-rooted significance in various cultures. Let’s delve into the multifaceted world of Clivias in gardens and homes.


As Ornamental Plants: Beauty and Ambiance

  • Garden Accents: Clivias are often used as border plants in gardens, especially in shady areas where few other colorful plants can thrive. Their vibrant flowers and lush green leaves offer a stark contrast to the more muted tones of a shade garden.
  • Indoor Displays: With their bold, strap-like leaves and clusters of brilliant flowers, Clivias serve as a statement piece in interior decor. They’re often chosen as the focal point in living rooms, hallways, and other spaces.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

  • Gifts of Good Fortune: In some cultures, Clivias are considered symbols of good luck and are gifted on special occasions to bring prosperity and happiness.
  • Royal Association: The Clivia plant derives its name from Lady Charlotte Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, which gives it a regal touch. Due to this noble association, it’s often seen as a plant of high stature and grace.

clivia flowers


Benefits of Indoor Air Purification

  • Natural Air Purifiers: Like many indoor plants, Clivias are believed to purify the air by absorbing pollutants and releasing fresh oxygen. This makes the home environment healthier and more invigorating.
  • Humidity Regulation: Plants, by their very nature, release water vapor, increasing indoor humidity levels. In dry climates or during winter months when indoor air tends to be dry, Clivias can help balance the humidity, making it more comfortable for inhabitants and beneficial for other houseplants.

Economic and Scientific Significance

  • Horticultural Varieties: Clivias have been crossbred extensively, leading to a wide range of cultivars. This diversity has fostered a niche market for Clivia enthusiasts and collectors, leading to plant sales, shows, and conventions.
  • Medicinal Research: Some traditional medicine systems have used Clivias for their purported healing properties. While not widely recognized in modern medicine, there’s ongoing research into potential medicinal applications of various parts of the Clivia plant.


radiant clivias


In the realm of horticulture, Clivias stand out as a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature. These radiant plants, with their robust leaves and spectacular flower displays, serve as a beacon of hope and a reminder of the rewards that come with patience and care.

Their versatility in both shaded gardens and indoor settings ensures that they have a place in every plant lover’s collection, from the compact city apartment to the expansive backyard garden. Beyond their captivating appearance, Clivias are steeped in cultural significance and offer potential health benefits, making them a holistic addition to any space.

If you’re looking for different flowers arrangements for any occasion, check out Bourkes Florist offerings. Surprise a loved one, or even yourself, with a delivery that embodies both nature’s beauty and your thoughtfulness. Remember, flowers speak a language that words often cannot. Visit www.bourkesflorist.com.au today.



Q: How often should I water my Clivia plant?

Water when the top inch of soil feels dry, typically once every 1-2 weeks, but less often in winter.


Q: Can Clivias be planted outdoors?

In frost-free zones, yes. They prefer shaded or semi-shaded spots.


Q: What should I do if my Clivia isn’t blooming?

Ensure adequate indirect light, provide a winter dormant period, and check watering habits.


Q: How do I repot a mature Clivia?

Choose a pot that’s 2 inches larger in diameter, ensure good drainage, and gently separate offsets if needed.


Q: Are Clivias toxic to pets?

Yes, all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, so they should be kept away from pets.

All You Need to Know About Clivias

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