La Clivia

Clivia is a common stoloniferous herbaceous plant, native to southern Africa; in particular in Italy the Clivia miniata species is very widespread, and some varieties derived from this species. These are evergreen herbaceous plants, which produce a good root system, from which a large tuft of large ribbon leaves, arched, dark green, shiny and leathery, rises; in spring between the leaves the plant produces a tall fleshy, wide stem, which bears an umbrella inflorescence consisting of large funnel-shaped flowers, typically of a lively orange color; there are varieties with yellow, white, red, or pinkish orange flowers. In recent years in the nursery you can also find clivie of the nobilis species, which produce a smaller head, with flowers on a short fleshy stem, red in color, with a tubular shape, facing downwards.

The clivie they are grown as houseplants, because being evergreen, the large leaves last throughout the year; flowering occurs between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and lasts a few weeks; well-developed plants under the right cultivation conditions can produce more flower stems, which often develop in succession, making flowering even more prolonged.

Cultivating Clivia

The clivias come from the southern area of ​​Africa, where the climate is certainly milder than that which can be found in Italy, but as far as rainfall is concerned, it does not differ much; therefore our plants will need very mild minimum temperatures, never below 8-10 ° C, not even in winter; therefore they are grown at home, not necessarily in a heated area, even a stairwell can be indicated, as long as the plant is not subject to cold gusts due to a window or door that opens continuously.

Watering will be regular throughout the vegetative season, wetting the soil thoroughly from March to September, but always waiting for it to dry before watering again; during this period of the year, remember to also provide fertilizer, dissolved in the water used for irrigation, every 13-15 days.

In the autumn and winter period, in nature, the plants do not receive watering, and enter a sort of semi-vegetative rest; it seems that this rest favors flowering, it is therefore advisable to reduce watering, almost to stop it, for the whole winter period. The more the plant is grown in the cool, the less it will need to be watered; then the clivia left in the stairwell at 10 ° C, it could remain without watering throughout the winter, while the one kept indoors, with a minimum night of 18 ° C, will require sporadic little watering.

If the plant is kept in a heated place, let's also remember to vaporize the foliage, in order to increase the ambient humidity.

After flowering, we remove the stem that carried the inflorescence and repot the plant, at least every 2-3 years, placing it in a pot just larger than the previous one and replacing all the soil with a good fresh universal soil, enriched with humus and lightened with a little fairly coarse perlite. As with many other plants, even the clivias grown in pots seem to prefer slightly crowded pots, so we avoid repotting them in very large containers. In fact, moving in a large pot will lead the plant to use most of its energy in producing roots and leaves, to the detriment of the flowering of the following year.

Family, genus, speciesAmaryllidaceae, gen. Clivia, up to 6 species
Type of plantType of plant
Height to maturityGenerally from 30 to 50 cm. Some species up to 2 m
Width at maturityFrom 30 to 90 cm
Flower colorOrange, red, yellow
MaintenanceEasy on average
Water needWater need
Minimum temperature8 ° -10 ° C (the most common varieties)
Ideal temperature20 ° c
ExposureHalf shade - bright shade
GroundLight and draining (1/3 of vegetable fibers 1/3 of peat 1/3 of sand
FertilizerLiquid for flowering plants, every 15 days from the end of flowering
Soil pHNeutral to acidic
Soil moistureDry
PropagationDivision of the head, sowing

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Propagate the Clivia

The clivia is a plant that produces a dense clump of stoloniferous roots, which can be divided to produce new plants; in the work of division of course we will also find ourselves dividing the tuft of leaves, and therefore the plants obtained will hardly have a harmonious appearance, but they will tend to rapidly develop new leaves and therefore return to being beautiful, full and lush; these plants tend to use a lot of energy in the production of leaves and roots, so generally the clivias produced by division tend not to produce buds even for a few years after the operation; however, it happens that division becomes necessary, especially in very large and old tufts, which can become cumbersome to grow in pots.

The clivia can also be grown from seed, in fact after the flowers these plants produce small red berries, gathered at the apex of the floral scape, fleshy, inside which there is a fertile seed. If removed from the pulp and left to dry, the seeds can be buried and made to germinate, keeping the pot in a cool and humid place; plants obtained from seed usually flower after a few years.

Plants of South Africa

In the nursery we find many plants from South Africa, and also in the garden, this is because while it is true that the average temperatures of this area of ​​the globe can be very different from those in Europe, also in South Africa there are two cool and humid seasons. and two dry seasons, as is the case in Europe; for this reason, plant enthusiasts have approached the cultivation of plants from these areas, which are often used as indoor plants.

Very similar to the clivia is hippeastrum, which unfortunately loses its foliage in the cold dry season, when the days get shorter; agapantus is also very reminiscent of the clivia, but in shades of blue, also in this case the plant becomes completely dry in autumn, only to start germinating again when spring arrives.

Climate and exposure for the Clivia

Most of the clivias can only be grown in pots, as a houseplant and to be moved outside during the summer. The exception is c. x cyrtanthiflora which survives up to 0 ° C and can therefore be kept in the ground, especially in the Center-South and along the coasts, with the possible help of covers and in a position sheltered from the winds.

In general, the minimum temperature during the winter must be around 8-11 ° C, while the rest of the year we will have to maintain a constant 20 ° C.


Shaded or at most very bright exposures are preferred. However, we avoid direct sun, especially in spring-summer, as it could cause leaf burn and dehydration. At home it is best to place it near a window facing East or North.

Land and Watering

The ideal substrate must be very draining: we can get it ourselves by mixing 1/3 of vegetable fibers (such as coconut fiber, common in orchid mixes), 1/3 of peat, bark or leaf earth and 1/3 of fine sand or perlite.

Watering and humidity

When temperatures are high it is good to irrigate frequently, making sure, however, that the substrate dries completely between one administration and the next. The plant benefits greatly from a humid environment: therefore, foliar sprays with rain or demineralized water are welcome.

In winter we can stop making sure only that the earthen bread does not become completely dry.

RepottingFebruary March
DivisionFebruary March

How to deal with clivia during flowering?

At the end of the summer, the floral scape will appear. Let's withdraw the plant indoors when the minimum temperatures are around 15 ° C. Let's keep it for about a month in a shady area and with temperatures between 8 and 11 ° C. We will then gradually increase the brightness. Once the flowers have withered, we can begin to increase irrigation by also adding fertilizer for flowering plants every 15 days, until autumn.

Variety of Clivia

The genus Clivia is not very large: it includes a maximum of 6 species, all coming from South Africa. However, it is a much loved pot plant and over the years several hybrids have been created with specific peculiar characteristics.

Clivia nobilis

It is the first species to be classified and the first to arrive in Europe. Still today it is among the most cultivated. The maximum height is about 30 cm, while it reaches half a meter in width. Very suitable as a pot and indoor plant as it grows very slowly and blooms during the winter. It has tubular flowers of an intense orange color and green ends which turn, after about 9 months, into beautiful bright red berries. The leaves are ribbon-like, dark green, very shiny and decorative even in the absence of a floral scape.

Clivia miniata

It is also a very common species in our homes. It can reach 50 cm in height and bears erect flower scapes bearing up to 20 bell-shaped flowers that are wide open and turned upwards, in an intense orange color with a yellow throat. Without forcing it blooms in autumn, but the production of the scapes can be moved to the end of winter. It is also among the most used for the creation of hybrids.

Clivia miniata var. citrine very similar to the species, but more vigorous. It bears beautiful canary yellow flowers. Unfortunately, it is rarely found on the market.

Clivia caulescens

It has more lanceolate leaves than the previous species, up to 60 cm long and 6 wide. It is also more vigorous reaching about 1 meter in height in a few years, but, over time, it can exceed 2 meters overall. It has red-orange flowers edged with green.

Clivia x cyrtanthiflora

It is the result of the hybridization between the clivia nobilis and the miniata. It reaches an average of 50 cm in height and produces very rich floral scapes, bearing up to 60 flowers of a beautiful orange red, in the autumn-winter season. It is also among the most rustic, withstanding temperatures as low as 0 ° C. It can therefore be grown outdoors or in the ground in many areas of our peninsula.

Clivia gardenii

It can reach 70 cm in height and produces clusters of yellow-orange or salmon tubular flowers with green edges, in the winter season. He wants a rather humid environment.

'Daruma' group of cultivars obtained in Japan with flowers similar to miniata, but with persistent, wider and shorter leaves.

'Variegata' the foliage has nice cream streaks.

Robust clivia

It has only recently become a species of its own. Of considerable size (it can exceed 2 meters overall), it has long persistent leaves and aerial roots that branch off from the stems. Loves water and humid environments. It produces large inflorescences with up to 40 red-orange flowers with less hanging corollas than in other species.