The Q&A Archives: Clivia Miniata

Question: My Clivia Miniata was blooming when I purchased it 5 years ago. It has not bloomed since. Why? The plant stays indoors year around... not direct sunlight.

Answer: Clivia needs a short rest period in the winter time in order to gain the strength to produce a bloom. Here's how to care for your clivia:

Clivias are fairly easy plants to grow. A division that is potted in a 12-inch container will bloom and multiply abundantly for 10 years or more before it needs to be repotted. They can be grown outdoors year-round in zones 9 and 10. In the colder zones, they can be grown as houseplants or in containers outside and brought in during the winter.

They grow most actively from early spring through fall. During these months a night temperature above 50?F and a daytime temperature of 70?F is best. Feed every month and water regularly allowing the potting mix to dry out slightly between deep watering. During late fall give plants a short rest by withholding water and fertilizer, giving them only enough water to keep the leaves from wilting.

Clivia roots are thick, fleshy and well-equipped for water storage. On a mature specimen the swollen mass of roots often becomes so large that it will completely fill the pot, forcing the growing medium up and over the container's edge. Only when this begins to happen should a Clivia plant be moved to a larger pot.

In general, the plants do best when their roots are somewhat constricted by a small pot, so it is best to resist the temptation to place the plant in a pot much larger than the one you are moving it from. Fibrous loam, some coarse grit, decayed manure and leaf mold make a good potting mixture.

Unlike many other plants, clivias survive in bright or dim light, in soil that is moist or dry. They prefer well-drained, organic soil in bright light with early-morning or late afternoon sun but shaded in between, as direct sun will cause leaf scorch. The ability of these plants to survive under conditions unsuitable for most other plants makes them remarkably tough house plants, and ideal candidates for growing in those locations where few other plants seem to thrive.

The bulbs should be planted in the fall or spring. Cover the plump roots with just a thin layer of soil. The white part of the stem should be almost buried. Clivias need to be watered and fertilized regularly while in active growth. Afterward, water sparingly. If growing Clivias in containers, avoid disturbing them. Try to divide them only when they become overcrowded.

For best results, clivias should be grown in bright diffused light, with the growing medium kept evenly moist during spring and summer. If the plants are allowed to become quite dry for two months in winter, and the growing temperature is lowered to approximately 10 - 15?C, the plants can also be encouraged to flower. Once a flower stem has begun to emerge, watering can be increased, and plants moved to a location with normal growing temperatures.

If the flowering stalk fails to elongate, leaving the cluster of flowers compressed between the leaves near the base of the plant, it is most often caused by the plant not having the proper rest period. Where Clivia plants are grown in low light conditions, they will rarely flower, but will serve as reliable foliage plants.

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