- Author: Jenni Dodini
Those of you who have ever worked with me, or have ever heard me speak, know that my favorite advice is, "Do your research." Well......I had the opportunity to do just that recently.
I have been doing a garden make-over lately, and it rather got out of hand. It started as an addition off to the side, and then it got legs and ended up being the whole area!!! Some plastic pots had decided to show their age and break, so that they required new pots, and moving plants from one place to another, etc. You know how it goes. Well, I looked into one such pot and noticed the Clivia plant that has a NEVER gotten more than 6 inches tall with maybe 4 leaves in the numerous years that it has lived in that pot. Granted, when I got the plant I hadn't fully developed my "Do your research" mantra to incorporate gardening. I generally saved it for nurses to whom I was trying to teach something. Needless to say, it got placed into a pot with another plant, a big pot at that. So, I decided that if it was not ever going to bloom, I ought to pull it out of the place it had been living and put it in another pot and place.
I got out my little hand trowel and dug it out of the pot. Well, to my Surprise!, it had been working right along to try to get itself root bound in that big pot. In the process of digging out the "rootball" I found no actual ball. I know that I broke a LOT of roots but still came away with a good clump of roots. I was getting ready to put this plant into a pot with regular potting soil, and my grandmother's voice said to me, "Jennifer, DO YOUR RESEARCH!" When Grandma talks to me about gardening, I know better than to ignore her.
I pulled out my phone (I actually remembered to take it outside with me for a change) and typed in "Clivia". I, of course, got the cursory sales sites first, but I scrolled down to the GardeningKnowHow site (because I like that site the best) and started reading. I found that the plant was named after Lady Florentina Clive and that it is native to South Africa. I also found that it is generally grown as a houseplant, but can be grown outdoors in a completely shady area, and in a pot so that one can bring it indoors during the winter, usually around October. (I'm now thinking to myself, "Well no wonder you have never bloomed. I've been treating you like a regular old plant all these years. At least you didn't just up and die!") This poor plant has been living outside for at least 5 years and has never been given a "dry period" of 12 to 14 weeks during which time it gets minimal watering, with a period of 25 to 30 days without any water and a temperature range of 35 to 60 degrees. (I got that part right.). During the winters, it got the same water that all the rest of Fairfield got or didn't get. Lastly, I watched the 2 really good videos on how to repot said plant and then how to care for it. The one thing that I got correct without doing any research at all was the temperature during the winter, except for the freezes that we had. Anyway, once the "dry period" has happened, one should resume watering gradually, and give a 1-time application of higher potassium fertilizer to force it to start blooming, usually around February, and take it back outside if there is no chance of frost. Once it starts blooming, it likes 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly. (Like I said, I got 1 thing right.). The videos both said that they prefer a loose soil - namely orchid mix- that is rich and fast draining and they like to dry out between waterings. Once divided, the young plants may take 2 - 5 years to bloom. (Oh well, it has never bloomed yet, so I'll just hope that I haven't killed it by treating it right for a change.)
The picture below is 1 that I took at the Botanic Garden in San Diego when we were there in March. As you can see, they are growing in the shade of a massive tree and are planted into the ground. I saw Clivia growing all over San Diego in shady garden spaces, even the grocery store parking lot! I. Was very jealous, but I realize that San Diego and Fairfield are very different climates. I'll just wait and see what happens with mine for now.