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The trumpet flowers of this indestructible plant put them top of the list for dry areas, dry pots and under trees. Let’s take a closer look.

Mass plant lemon, peach and cream clivias in shaded areas under trees. Photo - Slowfish/Shutterstock 

Fact file

Name: Clivia sp.

Origins: Southern Africa

Flowering: Spring

A genus of six species of herbaceous evergreen plants with strap leaves. Intense hybridisation by fanatical growers has resulted in colours varying from deep orange, through yellows, peach and a rare white.



Matching common orange clivia trumpets with purple geranium is a bold choice. We think it works, what do you think? Photo - David M. Schrader/Shutterstock



We love the fact that lemon clivia clash less than their orange cousins with the traditional colours of the spring garden. Photo - Slowfish/Shutterstock


Now: Clivia flowers glow against lush deep-green straps of foliage in spring.

Later: Autumn is the time to divide plants. Uproot them and pull them apart into several chunks. Replant into improved soil under shade (they enjoy morning sun). Fleshy berries following the flower clusters. Clivia-fans collect the berries, soak the flesh off in water overnight then sow into trays of seed-raising mix with fingers cross for new and amazing colours. They have to be patient though. New seedlings come up fairly quickly but may take up to seven years to flower, if at all.


New colours are appearing all the time, including almost-white, green, peach and apricot. Photo - Linda K. Ross


We love them with 

a tropical look alongside bromeliad patches, under similar-toned angel trumpet trees (Brugmansia) or with tropical favourites like Philodendron, gingers and hot-toned canna lilies such as ‘Bengal Tiger’. We also like sticking to a single colour and planting swathes of the same hybrid for impact. In cottage or Sydney-style gardens where the main spring tone is pink due to camellias and azaleas, they are much harder to use. The discord of pink azaleas with orange clivia gives us the wobbles. Use care, or try the cream hybrids.



Clivia lily caterpillar can be devastating. The striped, 6cm-long caterpillars can easily munch through a clump overnight. Use a caterpillar control such as Success as soon as you spot them. Breakouts of scale or mealy bug insects can be solved with EcoOil.


What else

Clivia dislike wet soil and will rot if they are planted too low (with necks undercover) or get too much water when dormant in winter – either via nature or the tap. Avoid the potential for bogginess by mounding up the soil and planting them ‘high’, with their necks in the air. Keep them dry, they come from South Africa remember!


Where to buy

Your local nursery. Mail orser specialists. Local specialists are Victoria Clivia Nursery, 1007 Old Northern Rd, Dural - in September trolleys display the treasure out the front of this good old-fashioned nursery.



Look at this more unusual green-tipped forest lily (Clivia nobilis). Not as spectacular as the showy miniata hybrids, these nonetheless have a certain droopy charm. Pendulous flowers hang low and are red or orange tipped with green. This plant is often seen as an indoor plant in the northern hemisphere. Photo - Linda K. Ross, Botanic Gardens Sydney


Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross