Clivias are wonderful, almost unkillable plants, which brighten the garden during late winter and early spring with clusters of vibrant yellow throated, orange or salmon trumpet flowers. The flowers are held on stalks above the clump of dark green strap-like leaves.
Native to Natal, South Africa, clivias were named after Lady Charlotte Florentina Clive, Duchess of Northumberland, who was the granddaughter of Robert Clive, better known as Clive of India. The name Clivia can be pronounced as the name Clive to rhyme with ‘hive’ (Clive+ia) or with a hard sound as in ‘liver’ (Cliv+ia). Many of the clivia enthusiasts pronounce it the latter way.
As well as orange flowered forms there are also newer colour varieties of clivia available including red-orange, yellow and cream. There are also bi-colours that are orange with a strong yellow throat. These cultivars however are still new and may need to be hunted for in specialist nurseries or from mail-order bulb or perennial nurseries (see availability below).
Common name: Clivia or Kaffir lily
Botanic name: Clivia miniata
Best climate: Clivias come from South Africa and grow in most areas of Australia – from Tasmania to the Tropics. In colder areas such as the mountains and Tasmania clivias need protection from frost and extreme cold. In warmer climates plants will become bleached and stressed if grown in full sun and allowed to dry out. In very cold climates clivias can be grown in pots which are moved into shelter or a glasshouse during the winter.
Planted in clumps, en masse, in a shady position beneath a tree or on the shaded side of the house. Suitable for potted plants on shaded patios.
Brilliantly coloured flowers – bright oranges, apricots, reds and yellows which are currently very fashionable. There is also a pale cream or white clivia which is rare at present. Lush green foliage all year round. Some of the newer varieties which are not readily available have variegated foliage which is more disease prone. Other new varieties have wider and lusher leaves that add a more luxuriant feel to the garden. Extremely tough in dry conditions so grow well in shade underneath trees. Grow in a wide range of climatic conditions but need shelter from cold or frost in cool or frost prone areas. Good lasting cut flowers. Seed heads which appear after flowering and ripen in the following winter look decorative. Low maintenance plant for a lush look. Tolerates root competition such as under shallow-rooted palms.
Summer shade Mulch Good drainage Water in spring and summer
Hot, dry conditions which may burn or bleach leaves Frost and snow
Down side: Some new colour varieties are not yet readily available in nurseries. Yellow flowering clivias are extremely expensive.
Water well in spring and summer but keep soil drier in autumn and winter. Use a complete fertiliser in spring. Dead head after flowering if desired (this removes seed heads). Otherwise leave them to set seed. Seedlings will take about four or five years before they flower.
Division. Divide clump any time but after flowering in spring is the best time. Offsets can be severed from the parent plant ensuring you include some roots and taking care not to snap the fleshy base. Potted plants of orange varieties of clivias in flower are available at your local nursery. There are also specialist growers in most states who sometimes have spare stock. However, as new varieties are still a recent introduction to Australia, these growers do not have plants available in large numbers or on a regular basis. Your local nursery would be able to make contact with local growers and order plants for you. Prices of the cream-lemon varieties are more expensive than orange ones.
120 Caporn Street, Wanneroo, WA, 6065.
phone: (08) 9405 1027
Dromana, VIC, 3936
phone: (03) 5987 1877 or fax: (03) 5981 4298
Pine Mountain Nursey
442 Russells Road, Pine Mountain, Ipswich, QLD
phone: Gail 0409 277 790 John 0409 277 785
593 Hawkesbury Road, Winmalee, NSW, 2777
fax: (02) 4570 9088
phone (03) 9803 3446 or 0429 430 640
Melbourne Clivia Group
web : melbournecliviagroup.org.au