Monday, March 24, 2008


I have a love/hate relationship with this Clivia. It is beautiful but it is heavy and it has just reached its peak bloom, so it is at its best just when our focus is shifting to the outdoors. I do love it but every year I decide to break it up and give away the pieces! But this year probably won't be the year! It flowers best crowded and it can last one more year before it will need to be divided.

As soon as there is enough foliage on the dogwood to provide shade, it will go out for the summer. It starts out in the bright shade and at some point towards the middle of summer, I move it out into "full sun", which means in this case, 6-7 hours of direct sun. It can take a few degrees of frost, but it comes in, usually in mid-late October when the forecast calls for temperatures to fall below 30F. It spends most of winter in the unheated portion of our basement with very few waterings; it is going through a dormant period after all (if you can't provide a cool period it will flower anyway but be sure to cut back drastically on watering to enforce dormancy). When I notice the flower buds deep in the leaf bases, I bring it upstairs and it flowers nicely.

While this is the old fashioned orange Clivia miniata, there are a variety of other species and selections available. Some are Yellow flowered, some a bit smaller (which would be nice), and some with variegation in the leaves. Choose carefully, this plant will never die from neglect so you are choosing a life companion! Every few years its thick roots will literally force their way out its pot, deforming plastic and breaking terra-cotta or ceramic. Then its time to divide; discard 2/3 (or give the divisions away), re pot, and you're good for another 4-5 years.

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