Q. My Clivia doesn't produce flowers. How can I encourage it to flower?
Clivia, or Kaffir lily, an undemanding, bulbous, perennial plant with fleshy roots, is native to South Africa. Clivias branch out alternately on both sides, and four to six new leaves can be produced yearly with proper care. The plant can grow 18 to 24 inches tall at maturity. The blooms are trumpet-shaped and grow in clusters of 10 to 20 scarlet, salmon, yellow or orange flowers. When flowers die, the stems should be cut as close to the soil surface as possible and when the remaining stem dries, it should be removed. Strong foliage growth begins after flowering, and the dead flowers can take strength away from the growth. However, the flower stems can be left intact if you want to use the ripe seeds the plant may produce for propagating.
Once the plant is placed in the proper location it prefers, it must not be moved, and the pot must not be turned, or the flowers will drop. Clivia must rest during the winter. After mid-October the water supply must be slowly reduced and the plant should remain completely dry from November to January. During this period it should be kept in a bright, cool (but not below 50°F) location. When flower buds appear, move it to a warmer location (60-65°F), but let the soil remain dry until flower stalks are 6 inches tall, and then resume proper watering.
Clivia can tolerate a small amount of filtered sunlight. Beginning in the late spring, it must be moved away from any direct sun, but it still needs bright light; you may not get flowers in lower light conditions. 500 foot-candles is optimum (you use an inexpensive light meter if you prefer).
It needs to be repotted only every three to five years in a potting mixture of one part loam, one part peat moss, one part sharp sand or perlite, and compost. Repot when the roots start growing over the surface soil, but after flowering has ceased. Careful watering is best after repotting.
While the plant is flowering, keep the soil moist but never soggy. After flowering, when foliage growth begins, let the plant dry out between thorough waterings (early in the day, water all the way through). Do not water during the rest period. Spray mist the plant as needed.
To make more plants from the mother plant, use offsets or divide large plants.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service