Clivia in Spring

For the Clivia enthusiast, is there ever a more exciting time than spring?

It is interesting that the seasons are so different each year. I remember last year that I had dozens of plants in the house to try to encourage the flower spikes to rise faster than they normally would so I could display the plant at the Clivia Expo. However this year, I worry that many flowers will be past their prime by the time the Expo rolls around and only have 3 plants in my house. The only reason I have these 3 plants in my house where it is warm is because either the flower bud has not developed at all in the past few weeks and appears to be stuck down low, or in one case, it looks like the buds will open while still down between the leaves.

Of course being in pots makes it easy for me to bring them into the house. If they are garden plants then there is not much you can do except keep an eye on any buds that appear stuck down in the leaves or are opening down in the leaves, as rot can set in and damage/kill the plant. I have at times, use clothes pegs to force the leaves open so more air will circulate around the stuck flower. Sprinkling Sulphur Powder down around the stuck buds may assist with eliminating rot, or worst case, you may have to cut the stuck buds or stuck flowers out with a knife, and then sprinkle Sulphur Powder on the open wounds.

Hopefully none of that will happen and you will have tons of stems elongating full of flower buds. I tend to bring all my flowering plants up to the house so I can look at them all the time. I can keep a check on how the stems are elongating, clean the leaves so they will look good for photography after the flowers open, fertilise them, and generally just stare at them and daydream of what the first flowering plants may turn out like.

At this time of the year (early September), I am starting my spraying regime for the year. Although mealy bug is not a huge problem over winter due to the colder environment, small pockets of the little blighters may have survived and will thrive once the warmer weather arrives. I spray all the plants again to hopefully knock them off at this early stage.

My plants have not been watered very often over winter so I have just recently gone through and given them all a good drink. Already I can see that the great majority of plants have new leaves so have started their growing cycle for the year. It is the perfect time to water and fertilise them. My plants have a 12 month slow-release fertiliser in their pot already, but I have gone through and given them a slightly diluted liquid fertiliser, in this case, I used Aquasol.

This is also a good time to look for potential problems. Any plant that does not have new leaves, I have to wonder why. I squeeze the base of the plant to test it is solid. A plant that has rotted through the middle will be spongey when squeezed. A plant that I am sure has rotted through the middle, I will pull off all the leaves, or cut through them with a knife, so the base is left with the roots. If the roots are healthy and there is enough good material left in the base, then eventually this stump may grow offsets. Plants try very hard to survive and will produce offsets when they know they are sick or dying. If I do not think there is rot in the middle and I am sure the roots are ok, and yet the plant has not produced new leaves, I sprinkle Sulphur Powder down between the leaves (just in case), give the plant a good fertilisation and then keep an eye on it to try to diagnose what is wrong.

A few downfalls with bringing a plant into a warm house are that the darker house will result in a more washed out colour on the flower. Even if it is situated in front of a sunny window, I find the flower colour is not completely accurate if the plant has been in a warm house. Also if the flower generally has a green throat or green tips to the petals, this may be reduced by being housed in a warm environment. Green likes the cold.

Enjoy your budding plants as it is a long time until next spring.

2 thoughts on “Clivia in Spring”

  1. I have just stumbled upon your site, and I’ve spent some hours the last two days looking for information that relates to Australian growers. You can’t imagine how happy I am! I’ve had a lovely wander through your blog posts. I have a problem with my yellow clivia (no name, bought at Bunnings years ago). It has flowered and produced each year, but this summer seems to have developed rusty colour through some of the leaves. I have sprayed it with Baythroid, as there is also evidence of munching caterpillars. Should I spray with a fungicide, and if so, can you suggest one. PS I have signed up for your newsletter.

    1. Hi,
      So sorry for the delay in replying to your query. I have had a bit of an extended holiday and am just trying to catch up.

      There is a rust fungus that can affect leaves but the fact you mention caterpillar damage makes me wonder if these sudden rust looking spots are related to the caterpillar damage. Rot can often get in where bugs munch on the leaves. To cover all bases, it may be best to treat both caterpillar and fungus. An effective fungicide is Mancozeb or Mancozeb Plus. It is available at Bunnings. You can mix it up as a spray and spray the plant or you can add a few drops to a small amount of powder and make a paste, then paint the paste on to affected areas. It doesn’t look pretty but is very good at treating rust, rot or other fungus. The very outer leaves that are affected, I would tend to pull off.

      With the caterpillar, you can try Eco-oil or White Oil which is useful on any sap sucking bugs. Another chemical that is not so environmentally friendly is Confidor which is effective. You may need to spray regularly such as once a month to keep the little critters away.

      I hope this helps.

      regards,
      Lisa

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