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How to Grow Clivia — Kafir-Lily

Kafir-lily flowers
Kafir-lily, Clivia, flowers

Clivia–commonly called kafir-lily–bears clusters of brilliant, trumpet-shaped blooms alongside glossy deep green, strappy leaves. Clivia is a showy member of the amaryllis family.

Grow Clivia outdoors year-round in frost-free winter regions. In colder regions grow Clivia in pots that can be set outdoors in summer and taken indoors in winter. Clivia blooms from early winter to mid-spring.

Grow Clivia in a border or bed or among shrubs where winters are mild. Where not hardy, grow Clivia as a houseplant.

Clivia is a genus of 4 species of evergreen perennials from woodland in South Africa.

Get to Know Clivia

  • Plant type: Tropical evergreen perennial, houseplant
  • Growing Zones and range: 9-11; clivias are damaged by temperatures lower than 30°F (-1°C).
  • Hardiness: Tender; average household temperatures are fine most of the time, but plant must have temperatures below 50°F/10°C during the winter rest period to encourage good flower formation.
  • Height and width: Grow 12 to 36 inches tall (30-91cm) and wide
  • Foliage: Strappy green leaves
  • Flowers: Clusters or 12 to 20 orange, yellow, or red flowers in balls 3 inches across followed by berries; flowers are borne on 2-foot (61cm) stalks
  • Bloom time: Early winter through spring; kafir-lily can take several years to bloom
  • Uses: Houseplant; in warm regions, it is used outdoors as a tall groundcover in deep shape
  • Common name: Kafir-lily
  • Botanical name: Clivia miniata
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Origin: South Africa
Kafir-lily, Clivia miniata, in a garden
Kafir-lily, Clivia miniata, in a garden

Where to Plant Clivia

  • Light outdoors: Grow Clivia in partial shade.
  • Light indoors: Clivia prefers morning or afternoon direct sun, overwise simply bright light; direct noon sun can scorch the leaves.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Clivia in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Pot plants in average growing medium.

When to Plant Clivia

  • Set Clivia outdoors in subtropical regions in spring.

Planting and Spacing Clivia

  • Set Clivia rhizomes 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart in the garden. Plants grow best and bloom with crowded roots.

How to Water and Feed Clivia

  • Keep the soil evenly moist in spring and summer; average humidity is best. Reduce watering slightly in fall; reduce watering even more in winter to encourage a resting period. Resume regular watering when flower stalks appear in early spring.
  • Fertilize Clivia with a half-strength fertilizer of 10-30-10 every 2 or 3 weeks but hold off fertilizing during the winter rest period.

Clivia Care

  • After blooming, trim off the stalk to divert energy into other parts of the plant.
  • Clivia blooms best when slightly potbound. Use a heavy pot with a broad base, because the larger flower heads tend to make the plant top-heavy.
  • Divide overgrown plants when you repot them, or remove offsets in later winter.

Growing Clivia in Containers

  • Start Clivia in small clay pots. Use a blend of 3 parts all-purpose potting mix and 1 part sand, with a handful of bonemeal.
  • Clivias grow best when crowded, so leave them in their pot for about 3 years before repotting in late winter.
  • Feed with liquid fertilizer twice a month during spring and summer.
  • Give plants a cool, somewhat dry rest period without fertilizer in winter.

Growing Clivia as a Houseplant

  • Grow Clivia with average room temperature and humidity and bright light.
  • Pot plants in an average growing medium; allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • After Clivia has flowered, water only to keep the plant from wilting until new growth starts.
  • Fertilize Clivia every six weeks in spring and summer.
  • Plants grow and flower best if the roots are not disturbed, so repot them as infrequently as possible.

Clivia Pests and Diseases

  • Mealybugs produce cottony white clusters on leaves; knock them off with a strong spray of water or spray with insecticidal soap.

Clivia Propagation

  • Keep Clivia offsets that develop attached to the mother plant to encourage a cluster of new plants.

Clivia Varieties to Grow

  • Clivia miniata. Evergreen perennial grows to 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide; star-shaped flowers; bears large umbels of up to 20 tubular yellow, red, or orange flowers. French and Belgian hybrids have very wide leaves and yellow to deep red-orange blooms on rigid stalks. Solomone hybrids come in yellow, cream, red, and pastel shades. Cultviars include: ‘Flame’ is a hot orange-red. ‘San Marcos Yellow’ has clear yellow blooms.
  • C. nobilis. Evergreen perennial grows 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide; strap-shaped leaves; pendent, narrowly trumpet-shaped red and yellow flowers.

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