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.