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How to care for natal lily or Clivia: watering, repotting and where to position them

·3-min read

Cheery Clivia, endemic to South Africa, will bring a splash of colour to your houseplant collection when it needs it most.

Coral orange trumpet like blooms emerge above strapping glossy green leaves just as winter is ending.

How to care for Clivia

Whilst many houseplant parents have an aversion to flowering indoor plants (perpahs the pressure of getting them to flower again is too much) Clivia are an easy to care for flowering house plant, and will flower year after year without to much fuss.

They don’t suffer from many pests and will be happy in most parts of your home.

To ensure your Clivia flowers year after year a bright location is best, somewhere with plenty of bright but indirect light. This might be on a coffee table away from a south-facing window, or a east- or west-facing windowsill.

Too much direct sunlight could damage the leaves (though the risks are low in the UK).

Clivia are thirsty plants, and through the growing season require watering regularly to keep the shiny dark green leaves looking their best.

Ensure the pot your Clivia is growining in has plenty of drainage holes, and that excess water is able to drain away freely.

If your natal lily is in a decorative caché pot, it’s always best to remove it from the decorative pot first, water in the sink, bath or shower, and return when the excess water has drained away.

In winter, Clivias go though a dormant period before flowering again in late winter or early spring. From the end of October, go easy on the watering, allowing the compost around the roots to almost dry out completely before watering lightly.

In its native South Africa, flowering is triggered by a spell of cold weather through winter. To improve the chances of your Clivia flowering year after year, consider moving it to a cooler (but still bright) part of the house around Christmas or the new year.

When your Clivia has finished flowering, you can simply cut the flowering spike off where it emerges from the leaves. You may be tempted to repot your natal lily when you see the roots emerging from the bottom of the pot. Resist this temptation! At least for another year, Clivia flower best when their roots haven’t got loads of room.

How to propagate a Clivia plant

Clivia can be propagated by division as the plant grows older. When you buy a Clivia from the shop, nine out of 10 times it won’t have started to divide itself.

After a couple of years growing, you may notice the plant starting to produce small side shoots. When these get to a reasonable size, around 10-15cm tall, you are ready to make the division.

You’ll need some peat-free compost and some horticultural sand to improve drainage, we use a mix of three quarters compost to one quarter sand.

Remove your Clivia from the pot, shake away the excess soil, checking the offset has some of its own roots, if not return it to the pot for a little while longer.

Gently pull apart the new plant from its parent (it doesn’t feel right, but breaking the two plants apart is less damaging than cutting them).

It’s better to keep the plants roots slightly constricted to encourage flowering, so a pot that is slighlty on the small side is better.

Carefully refill around the roots of both plants, and water well.

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