Clivia was discovered in the mid-1800s in Natal, South Africa. A much sought-after plant that only had orange flowers. Later, a Clivia was discovered with yellow flowers. At this point, various colors from extensive breeding occurred. Nowadays, there are numerous colors available from yellow, orange bronze, pinkish, reddish, green and a combination of mixed colors.
What should you do if you wanted to cross two different Clivia but they bloom at different times? Save the pollen from the one plant in small vials. These vial can be stored for up to five years in the freezer. If you search the internet you can inquire from breeders to buy pollen. On special plants, pollen can be very expensive.
Clivia will self-pollinate, so remove the anthers early and use your saved or bought pollen. Dabble some pollen on the stigma. You will have to wait nine months for the seed to ripen. It takes five years from seed to bloom. The plant is crossed again with itself to stabilize the genes so the seeds will grow truer. You can use different pollen for interesting outcomes.
If you are not into breeding, you can buy seeds from reputable sources. Be very careful if it is too good to be true, it is not what you want. I have seen seeds for $1 for five seeds with free shipping. Clearly, these are fake. I have seen posted blue Clivia flower seeds also a fake listing. It is necessary to trust the seller since five years from now you can have an ordinary colored plant. There is a risk buying seeds because seeds don’t always grow true even for breeders. Typically, seeds cost around $5 or more expensive with special crosses. On eBay auctions, you can sometime pay $40 or more for a few seeds. I would recommend joining a Facebook group on Clivia. You will soon learn who the breeders are and those that are trust worthy for seeds.
I happen to love Chinese Clivia plants. There are many varieties of Chinese plants. Chinese Clivia are grown for their amazing leaves, Henglan plants have very small leaves two inches or a just a drop more. Sparrow Clivia are small in stature, but they are larger than Henglan. Some of these plants sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. These plants are very special to me. They offer year-round attractiveness with a compact special leaf plant. I find that the other Clivia plants look great blooming for a few weeks. I would rather have a plant that looks great year round. This is my personnel opinion.
Chinese Clivia are known for having beautiful variegated leaves. These plants can cost $50 to hundreds of dollars. The cheapest way of growing Chinese Clivia is by seeds. You can plant 1,000 variegated seeds and be lucky to have a great plant with perfect leaves and variegation. A percentage will be albino and die. That’s why you should grow at least 10 seeds. Too much light and the variegation will turn more green.
Remember that Clivia plants require early morning light and shade after that. In a warmer climate, it can be grown under the canopy of trees.
Clivia plants are fascinating to grow. It makes a fun hobby or more. Will you become a breeder?
John Spagnoli is an avid gardener with experience in hybridization, and he has number of rare and common plants.