Many gardeners pretty much ignore their houseplants after spring, letting them spend the summer outside in dappled shade. Nonetheless, one houseplant that stood out among the rest throughout spring, and will be worth looking at through summer and on, is clivia.
Typically, clivia blooms the whole month of May, yielding sprays of trumpetlike orange flowers, each flower brightened with a yellow throat. For some reason, clivia is not widely grown.
The plant is similar (and related) to the more popular amaryllis, but amaryllis's strappy leaves are not worth looking at now that their flowers are gone. The strappy leaves of clivia, however, are evergreen and stand upright at their bases, making the plant a tropical fountain of lush greenery year-round. Even after it has finished blooming, clivia is pretty enough to grow for its foliage alone.
Smaller whorls of leaves eventually develop around clivia's main whorl. With time, these smaller whorls also flower, making the whole plant quite spectacular in bloom. You can separate these smaller whorls from the mother whorl right after bloom, then re-pot them to make new plants.
Another plus for clivia is that it's very easy to get it to flower, even easier than amaryllis. Neglect is part of the secret to success with this plant. Give it a rest period from early autumn until midwinter, during which time the plant needs little or no water. Begin watering again, only moderately at first, when flower stalks appear.
Now that the flowers have finally dropped and the weather is warm, clivia could spend time outdoors to keep company with other houseplants. From now on, and through summer, clivia does need regular watering and occasional fertilizer. Still, the plant is undemanding, since it is less thirsty than most other houseplants and does not need watering until its soil dries. In autumn, move the plant back indoors.
Besides separating "baby" plants from the "mother" plant, you can also grow new clivias from seed. Germination is slow, but after that the plant steadily (and still slowly) pushes out leathery, green leaves, one at a time. A clivia needs to be at least 3 years old to flower under ideal conditions, so be patient.
Gardening does teach patience, and what a triumph it is once a seed-grown clivia plant does flower! After putting all that effort and time into such a flower, you're sure to look upon it with special fondness.
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