How I Met My Clivia

It may seem like a strange topic for a post, but bear with me. There is something so magical to me about this plant species, that I have to tell you about it. Perhaps you will agree with me towards the end of this post! Clivias are also indigenous to southern Africa, so you can even plant them with a free conscience in South Africa. They are, however, cultivated worldwide.

I bought a couple of these at a nursery some years ago, and due to my ignorance about this plant and perhaps too much enthusiasm, I stuck these two in a pot in a corner on my patio. The problem is, that although I put them in dappled sunlight, which they prefer, I also placed the pot in the path of the howling wind. Clivias don’t necessarily thrive in the wind. They’re a bit like people from Gauteng about the wind. The leaves now resemble those of a Welwitschia, ripped to shreds. But they’re hanging in there and still alive. I’d move the pot, but it’s half a wine barrel full of soil, so may have to wait until Tarzan comes to visit.

But all is not lost. About two years ago, I went to visit a friend, and in her back yard was a clump of beautiful orange clivias (specifically, clivia miniata). Much to my chagrin, she was on the verge of pulling them out so her mother, upon seeing my distress, handed me a few of the seeds that had fallen to the ground around them. At home, I shoved them into a pot (in different ways as I was not sure which way is up for a clivia seed) and hoped for the best. And there they remained for about six months. Nothing.  For some reason, I kept watering the pot anyway, possibly due to my stubborn streak, and … it paid off! Because one day as I bent down to water the pot (again) there it was! A little green leaf poking out of the soil. Oh, the delirium!

To say I was overjoyed would be an understatement, at the very least. But let me just confirm that watching a clivia grow is not unlike watching paint dry. The first few months were agony, only to be tempered by my determination to see this through and other plants that needed tending to.

Fast forward. The result so far is a healthy plant-let. I can’t wait to get my garden sorted out, so that I can plant this little sucker in the right spot. Perhaps I will replant the two in the barrel as well. Until then, I’ll just go and visit Babylonstoren when their spectacular clivia garden goes bonkers. They have thousands of them and a gazillion types. You’ve never been there? Guess what? You’ve just added an item to your bucket list for early spring! Just go. It’s magical. Uplifting and just beautiful.

So, watch this space for an update. Don’t hold your breath, mind you. It is a clivia we’re talking about. The plant that waits for no man, and mercifully so. It must take a whole lot of energy and time to be so spectacular.


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