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Cultivation basics for the garden

CLIVIA CULTIVATION BASICS FOR THE GARDEN

Clivia are happy in the garden in a well-lit shaded position. They can tolerate morning sun or filtered light but will burn in full sun. Planting them in a very dark area of the garden may result in a lack of flowering as they need light in order to produce flowers. Often people plant them under a deciduous tree and this is fine provided they do not get too much sun when the tree is bare, or are exposed to frost. Clivia do not handle frost and will end up with damaged leaves or worse.

Planting

They can be planted any time of the year but best to avoid extreme days where frost is expected, storms or very high temperatures. Plants from Clivia Market have been grown in shade houses that are not heated so there is no need for them to acclimatise. Very young seedlings can be fragile and are best kept in a pot until at least 2 years of age (around 5 leaves). It is recommended that seedlings in particular are staked to help them to establish. A bamboo stake and soft ties are easy to remove in the future when the plant is established. This can be determined by gently rocking the base of the plant. If there is movement, then the plant has not established yet. If the plant feels like it is not moving, then the stake and tie can be removed.

Soil and watering

Clivia need a well-drained medium where the water will drain away from the roots of the plant. Sitting in wet or soggy soil will result in root rot and the plant ‘falling over’. Clivia are better kept on the dry side than too wet. Adding coarse orchid mix to the soil around the plant when planting can help to prevent the plant sitting in wet soil.

Always water the Clivia in when first planted (Seasol is a good tonic for newly planted Clivia). Once established, Clivia in the garden barely need any water. They can survive easily on the natural rain fall. In summer they will benefit from weekly watering if there is insufficient rain. Younger seedlings may require more regular watering than mature plants. If the plants are in an under-cover area, they may need the occasional water over winter and weekly water over summer.

Fertilising

Clivia love being fertilised and will produce darker green leaves and better flowerings when fertilised. It also assists them in fighting off diseases or pests when they are strong and healthy. A slow-release fertiliser is recommended such as Osmocote. The occasional drink from a watering can of a diluted liquid fertiliser, such as Thrive, Charlie Carp etc. also helps. The only fertiliser I would not use on a mature plant is one very high in nitrogen as it will promote leaf growth rather than flowering.

Pests and diseases

The biggest enemy of the Clivia gardener is the mealy bug. They will strike whether the plant is in the garden or a pot. Often the damage is done before they are discovered. These pests are small white bugs with a tail and can be seen on the underside of leaves or in-between leaves along with white cotton-wool looking material. The mealy bugs bite into the leaves and fungus can then get into where the leaves have been bitten. Damage can be extensive if left untreated and possibly result in the plant dying. Mealy bug can be treated with Eco-oil and Eco-neem by diluting to the stated ratio and spraying with small or large spray bottle, depending on the amount of Clivia you have. Always spray under the leaves, between the leaves and around the soil at the base of the plant. You will need to spray again in 2 weeks. A good rule of thumb is to spray plants in warmer months as a preventative measure.

Snails and slugs like to eat leaves and particularly like to eat the flowers. I have not had a problem at my property with snails but have seen slugs occasionally in the shade houses. I have used an old treatment of a plastic container (Chinese take-away) with good size holes drilled into the sides. This is filled with beer and I have had success with slugs drowning in the beer. Obviously this would not work for snails unless the holes were much bigger perhaps.

I also occasionally see ear-wigs between the leaves that bite into the leaves and cause damage. The treatment for mealy bug (Eco-oil, Eco-neem) will take care of the ear-wigs as well.

Rot

Other Clivia problems include crown rot and root rot. Root rot as mentioned earlier, is usually caused by the plant sitting in a soggy medium and not draining well. Symptoms of root rot include yellowing leaves, plant leaning, plant loose in the ground and plant falling over. The treatment is to take the plant out of the ground, remove all soft and rotted material from the roots and base, even if it means there are no roots left. Cover the base and roots with Sulphur Powder or Mancozeb (both available at Bunnings). Do not plant the Clivia back into the same soil. Remove the affected soil as there most likely will be rotted roots and fungal spores in the position where the plant was. If you can, place the plant in a different location or a pot for a while. If you must use the same position, remove affected soil and place some coarse orchid bark in the position to help keep the plant from becoming soggy. The plant will need to be staked until roots establish and kept as dry as possible.

Crown rot is when rot develops on the top of the plant between the leaves. This can be caused by bug damage or water damage from a tree above. All affected leaves need to be removed and all soft and rotted material needs to be cut off the plant. Sulphur Powder or Mancozeb should be applied to the affected area. Mancozeb can be made into a paste with a little bit of water and painted on with a small brush. The plant needs to be kept dry if possible. Depending on how far the rot penetrated the crown of the plant, it is possible that new offsets may develop all around the plant and the mother plant may cease to grow again. This is not the end of the world. One plant may suddenly become six plants. You just have to be patient and realise it may not look as good for a while.

Flowering

Generally, Clivia will flower around 5 years of age with around 12+ leaves. Miniata flower in Spring (September) but may flower out of season now and again. A flower spike develops down between the leaves around July/August and may become damaged if hit by heavy rains or hail. The flowers will be open for a few weeks and may be pollinated by bees or other insects. If pollinated, berries will form that are green until they are ripe around June/July. When ripe, orange flowers will have red berries, yellow flowers will have yellow berries and peach flowers will have peach berries.

Reasons for plant not flowering:

  • Plant is too young
  • Plant was under stress at the time the flower embryo should form (January- – February)
  • Plant is in a location that is too dark
  • Plant is not healthy (has rot, insect infestation, needs water or fertiliser)
  • Plant produced many flower heads and berries the year before and is recovering
  • Plant did not get cold enough over winter. Clivia need 6 weeks of cold temperatures in order to flower in Spring. Plants kept in pots in the house may not flower if kept warm over winter
  • Sometimes we cannot determine a reason.
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Orange is the new black

The chances are that the Clivia that hooked you and turned you into an obsessive enthusiast was orange. I know my one was. I didn’t even know there were other colours. I just saw this orange Clivia miniata flowering and thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was determined to own one. I went onto ebay and bought an orange Clivia and was a bit shocked when it turned up in the mail. The seller had cut off all the roots and all the leaves. It looked like a stick of celery. Obviously the seller did not know anything about Clivia and thought it was like an Iris where it is ok to cut off all extremities. I planted the poor thing and it still managed to flower a month later. The flower embryo would have developed prior to the butchery the plant endured.

As I gradually become aware that there were other colours, I just had to have one of each. I went crazy on ebay and bought as many different types and colours as I could, and I am sure other enthusiasts can relate to this.

My favourite colour kept changing from yellow to peach to ghost to appleblossom to bi-colour to green and so on.

It wasn’t until many years later and a few thousand Clivia plants in the shadehouse later that I stopped and thought seriously about what I really like. At the end of the day, all these other colours are rare, attractive and desirable without doubt, but I realised that it is the shape and form of a flower that makes it beautiful and not necessarily the colour.

When you walk around a Clivia show or Expo, the plants that attract you are the ones with large soccer ball heads of flowers, huge flowers and often with recurved petals. Of course everyone has their own preferences regarding the shape of the flowers.

There is nothing more beautiful than a huge plant with a strong, tall peduncle of flowers on a soccer ball head. I have always joked that my ideal flower is one where I could pull off a flower, turn it upside down and put it on my head like a hat. Somehow it seems that most of these vigorous and lovely plants are orange. That should be no surprise, orange is a dominant colour in Clivia.

A garden full of vivid orange Clivia flowering is a beautiful sight. Orange and yellow planted together is lovely with the contrast yet a garden full of just yellows can actually look a bit insipid.

I have a number of beautiful large orange plants in my collection that I find really breathtaking when they flower.

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Clivia Society membership

I am the Australian Representative of the Clivia Society based in South Africa.

Members of the Clivia Society receive an annual Yearbook which is a beautiful publication with photos and articles. They also receive quarterly newsletters and have access to other publications.

Anyone interested in becoming a member, please download the membership application form and send back the completed form with fees.

Fees (AUD $) for 2019 are:

  • One calendar year $35
  • Student discount one year $17.50

Payment methods are as follows:

  • Cheque, money order or bank cheque made out to Lisa Fox. Sent to 88 Mangans Road, Lilydale, VIC 3140
  • Bank transfer to Account name: Lisa Fox BSB: 063853 Account #: 10090099. Please use your surname as the transaction description.
  • Via Paypal directly to the Clivia Society. Use the email – corgas@vodamail.co.za. PAYMENTS VIA PAYPAL MUST BE IN US DOLLARS (US$25 or US$65)

Contact me with any questions – Lisa Fox
PH: 0417 087 667
Email: lisa.fox@gmail.com

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Clivia in China

I was fortunate enough in late March 2016 to visit China and view the greenhouses of several growers. It was interesting to note the growing differences between China and Australia. Unfortunately we had missed the Clivia show at Changchun by one week.

More notably, due to the extreme cold in winter, the plants are kept indoors and heaters keep the atmosphere at 25° Celsius. The air is very humid and it remains this way all year round. I asked how they get flowers as we know Clivia need a certain amount of cold weather to produce flowers. I was told that for several weeks in late winter, they turn the heater off at night so the plants get a certain amount of cold.

The first group of photos is from the growing area of Mr Wang, famous for his Wang Dian Chun yellow.

Mr Wang has two areas similar to a factory structure here in Australia. He grows Group 2 yellows and oranges. The plants are compact, painted face with broad leaves. A mature Wang Dian Chun Yellow sells for the equivalent of US$2,000.

Unlike other Chinese growers, Mr Wang does put some thought and effort into growing nice flowers, though the leaf structure and shape remains very important.

Over the next two days we visited several growers who specialise in Engineer Clivia. These plants are known for their veined leaves and fan shape. Seeing a huge line up of these plants is certainly an impressive sight.

The next photo clearly displays the veins on the leaves and the fan structure.

All the growers we visited use oak leaf litter for the potting medium. The oak leaves are sifted then covered and left for 6 months to decompost. All plants are repotted twice per year.

We showed the Chinese growers photos of Hirao and other popular flowers. Their comment was that it was not commercially viable for them to grow anything other than yellow or orange and that the leaves were the most important attribute.

I do love nice fan shape leaves with painted face or veined, but the flower will always be number one for me.

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Basic Genetics for Clivia Breeders

Professor Johan Spies, retired head of genetics at the University of the Free State in 2015 – Bloemfontein, has completed his book, Basic Genetics for Clivia Breeders.

To order:

  • purchase on the Clivia Market website using Paypal or credit card,
  • or phone Lisa Fox on 0417 087 667 or email to lisa.fox@gmail.com,
  • Payment can be made by sending a cheque to Lisa Fox, 88 Mangans Road, Lilydale VIC 3140 or a bank transfer to BSB: 063853 Acc: 10090099. Please ensure you provide your address details for postage.

The cost is $20 including postage and is for Australia only.

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Do you sell blue Clivia?

Do you sell blue Clivia?

I am getting this question a lot lately, as well as purple and white. I have to explain to the person that there is NO SUCH THING as blue or purple Clivia. I could make a fortune if I could breed such a thing. Pure white Clivia are also just a dream at this stage.

This furphy has come about mostly on ebay where some international sellers have  photoshopped photos of Clivia and made them look blue or purple. They have then listed seed for sale on ebay from blue Clivia. Sad to say that many people have been duped and bought these seeds. They will not know for approximately 5 years that they have been duped until their plant flowers common orange. Due to Clivia being such slow growers, these dodgy sellers are able to get away with selling seed from plant colours that do not exist.

Many Clivia enthusiasts and growers world-wide have reported this to ebay but unfortunately they will not do anything about it. It is merely our word against the seller that blue Clivia do not exist. These sellers even get good feedback from buyers because seed does arrive in the mail so the buyer provides good feedback. What sort of feedback would the seller get in 5 years time when the plant flowers?

Searching on Google images for ‘blue Clivia’ results in the following: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=blue+clivia&espv=2&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWrbLt39LSAhXIxbwKHensA5QQ_AUIBigB&biw=1280&bih=590

Searching on Google for ‘purple Clivia’ results in the following: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=blue+clivia&espv=2&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWrbLt39LSAhXIxbwKHensA5QQ_AUIBigB&biw=1280&bih=590#tbm=isch&q=purple+clivia&*

It is best to do your homework and buy from reputable sellers.

(Photo credit is US ebay, ernwat-0)

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Changes to seed importation

Please note that the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions have changed and this does affect Clivia seeds that are imported to Australia from other countries. Review the changes below carefully and understand that seed imports that do not meet these requirements could potentially be seized or destroyed.

Seed arriving through the mail and as passenger baggage will need to be appropriately identified. This can be done by any of the following:

  • Commercial packaging and label with the full botanical name (genus and species).
  • Commercial invoice listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.1
  • A laboratory report listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.1
  • Commercial supplier’s declaration2listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • Phytosanitary certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • Naktuinbouw Authorised Laboratories (NAL) certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.

This change is now in affect and will make it difficult for seed exchanges between Clivia enthusiasts in the future. Seed will either need to be from a commercial entity (commercial invoice, commercial supplier declaration or commercial packaging and label) or the seed must be inspected and certified (Phytosanitary Certificate, laboratory report, NAL certificate or ISTA certificate).

If you currently have seed in transit then it will be subject to these conditions.

For more information please contact Plant Import Operations on 1800 900 090 or imports@agriculture.gov.au

For more information on the alert, please refer to the BICON website:

https://bicon.agriculture.gov.au/BiconWeb4.0/ViewElement/Element/Alert?elementPk=815125

https://bicon.agriculture.gov.au/BiconWeb4.0/ViewElement/Element/Index?elementPk=810774&caseElementPk=817328

Feel free to phone Lisa Fox on 0417087667 if you wish to discuss any of the above.

UPDATE – Clarification of seed identification requirements for seed arriving by mail or accompanied baggage

This alert is to provide clarification of the import conditions for seed arriving through the mail or as passenger baggage.

  • If seed is not commercially packaged and labelled then one of the following documents listing the full botanical name must be provided:
    • Commercial invoice
    • Supplier’s declaration
    • Laboratory report
    • Phytosanitary certificate
    • Seed analysis certificate
    • ISTA Orange International Seed Lot Certificate
    • NAL quality certificate
  • Supplier’s declarations will be accepted from organisations or commercial entities. Supplier’s declarations must be presented on the organisation or business letterhead.
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Calendar of Clivia Shows in Australia 2019

Saturday 14 – Sunday 15 September
SPRING CLIVIA SHOW
Clivia Society of NSW
10:30am – 4pm
Thornleigh Community Centre
Cnr Phyllis St and Central Ave
(off Pennant Hills Rd )  next to Bunnings
Thornleigh, NSW

Friday 20 – Wednesday 25 September
CLIVIA SHOW
Toowoomba Clivia Society Inc.
9am – 5pm daily
TAFE Horticulture Pavillion
Entrance Campbell St. Behind Cobb  & Co.

Saturday 21 September
2019 CLIVIA EXPO
Melbourne Clivia Group
10am – 4pm
St Scholasticas Community Centre,
348 Burwood Highway, Burwood (Bennettswood)
(between Station Street and Middleborough Road)
Parking off Starling St