Looking for something a little different? Tired of the ordinary ferns, spider plants, and Ficus
trees? Try growing a Clivia
. This unusual houseplant, originally grown in southern Africa, is rivaling the Orchid as a must-have design feature in chic, contemporary homes.
What is a Clivia?
A member of the Amaryllis family (of Christmas bulb fame), there are six species of Clivia, the most common being Clivia miniata, a smallish plant with dark, slender, green leaves. A native of southern Africa, Clivia‘s natural habitat is on south-facing slopes, under trees, and, often, on top of rocks. These plants live, in the wild, with their roots partially exposed deriving necessary nutrients from leaf hummus the rotting jungle debris around them.
The Clivia has long, dark green shiny leaves with variegated foliage and large blossom-like flowers. Beautiful even when not in bloom, Clivias can be found with yellow, orange, white, and pink flowers. Many hybrids have been developed recently specifically for the houseplant market, making them easier to grow indoors. Today, Clivias are cultivated throughout the world.
History of the Clivia
The Clivia was first described by English naturalist William Burchell in 1828. Widely sought after right from the beginning, this exotic plant named after Lady Charlotte Florentine Clive, Duchess of Northumberland and an avid plant enthusiast. Extremely popular in Victorian England and in 19th century Belgium, the Clivia spawned a cottage industry in plant development. More recently, the Clivia has become very sought after in the Far East. From Japan to Korea to China, Clivias are found in public displays and in private homes. In fact, in Bejing, Mao Tse-Tung’s body lies surrounded by potted Clivia.
Care and Feeding
Growing Clivia is not difficult if you remember a few rules about potting, watering, feeding, and light. Clivias do not like to be planted in soil. They are designed to be partially exposed and will rot if planted. Use an aerated potting mixture such as perlite or composted pine bark mulch. Peat, potting soil, and vermiculite tend to be too dense for Clivias.
Fertilize your Clivia periodically with a mist of organic fish emulsion. Clivias are relatively pest resistant. If aphids, those tiny white bugs, should attack, spray the plant with insecticidal soap to repel them. Repeat if necessary. Indirect sunlight is best for growing a Clivia. Direct sunlight can burn the delicate leaves.
Clivias prefer a humid environment. Consider enclosing the plant in a terrarium or a glass-enclosed conservatory during the dry, northern, winter months. Mist the plant weekly during the summer, more often during the winter.
Where to buy a Clivia
Are you convinced that this one-of-a-kind plant deserves a place in your home? A number of gardening websites offer Clivias in all price ranges, colors, and sizes. Most will offer a guarantee to replace the plant should it die within a certain period of time. Though somewhat expensive, with a little care and nurturing, your Clivia should adorn your house for many years to come.