Calendar of Clivia Shows Australia 2018

Saturday 16 June 
RARE CLIVIA EXPO
Clivia Society of NSW
10:30am – 4pm
Thornleigh Community Centre
Cnr Phyllis St and Central Ave
(off Pennant Hills Rd )  next to Bunnings
Thornleigh, NSW

Saturday 15 – Sunday 16 September
SPRING CLIVIA SHOW
Clivia Society of NSW
10:30am – 4pm
Thornleigh Community Centre
Cnr Phyllis St and Central Ave
(off Pennant Hills Rd )  next to Bunnings
Thornleigh, NSW

Friday 21 – Wednesday 26 September
CLIVIA SHOW
Toowoomba Clivia Society Inc.
9am – 5pm daily
TAFE Horticulture Pavillion
Entrance Campbell St. Behind Cobb  & Co.

Saturday 22 September
2018 CLIVIA EXPO
Melbourne Clivia Group
10am – 4pm
St Scholasticas Community Centre,
348 Burwood Highway, Burwood (Bennettswood)
(between Station Street and Middleborough Road)
Parking off Starling St

 

Changes to seed importation

Please note that the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions have changed and this does affect Clivia seeds that are imported to Australia from other countries. Review the changes below carefully and understand that seed imports that do not meet these requirements could potentially be seized or destroyed.

Seed arriving through the mail and as passenger baggage will need to be appropriately identified. This can be done by any of the following:

  • Commercial packaging and label with the full botanical name (genus and species).
  • Commercial invoice listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.1
  • A laboratory report listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.1
  • Commercial supplier’s declaration2listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • Phytosanitary certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.
  • Naktuinbouw Authorised Laboratories (NAL) certificate listing the full botanical name (genus and species) accompanying the seed.

This change is now in affect and will make it difficult for seed exchanges between Clivia enthusiasts in the future. Seed will either need to be from a commercial entity (commercial invoice, commercial supplier declaration or commercial packaging and label) or the seed must be inspected and certified (Phytosanitary Certificate, laboratory report, NAL certificate or ISTA certificate).

If you currently have seed in transit then it will be subject to these conditions.

For more information please contact Plant Import Operations on 1800 900 090 or imports@agriculture.gov.au

For more information on the alert, please refer to the BICON website:

https://bicon.agriculture.gov.au/BiconWeb4.0/ViewElement/Element/Alert?elementPk=815125

https://bicon.agriculture.gov.au/BiconWeb4.0/ViewElement/Element/Index?elementPk=810774&caseElementPk=817328

Feel free to phone Lisa Fox on 0417087667 if you wish to discuss any of the above.

UPDATE – Clarification of seed identification requirements for seed arriving by mail or accompanied baggage

This alert is to provide clarification of the import conditions for seed arriving through the mail or as passenger baggage.

  • If seed is not commercially packaged and labelled then one of the following documents listing the full botanical name must be provided:
    • Commercial invoice
    • Supplier’s declaration
    • Laboratory report
    • Phytosanitary certificate
    • Seed analysis certificate
    • ISTA Orange International Seed Lot Certificate
    • NAL quality certificate
  • Supplier’s declarations will be accepted from organisations or commercial entities. Supplier’s declarations must be presented on the organisation or business letterhead.

Basic Genetics for Clivia Breeders

Professor Johan Spies, retired head of genetics at the University of the Free State in 2015 – Bloemfontein, has completed his book, Basic Genetics for Clivia Breeders.

To order: phone Lisa Fox on 0417 087 667 or email to lisa.fox@gmail.com.

The cost is $20 including postage and is for Australia only.  Members of the Clivia Society in South Africa receive a $2 discount.

Payment can be made by sending a cheque to Lisa Fox, 88 Mangans Road, Lilydale VIC 3140 or a bank transfer to BSB: 063853 Acc: 10090099. Please ensure you provide your address details for postage.

aus-cover-web

 

Clivia in China

I was fortunate enough in late March 2016 to visit China and view the greenhouses of several growers. It was interesting to note the growing differences between China and Australia. Unfortunately we had missed the Clivia show at Changchun by one week.

More notably, due to the extreme cold in winter, the plants are kept indoors and heaters keep the atmosphere at 25° Celsius. The air is very humid and it remains this way all year round. I asked how they get flowers as we know Clivia need a certain amount of cold weather to produce flowers. I was told that for several weeks in late winter, they turn the heater off at night so the plants get a certain amount of cold.

The first group of photos is from the growing area of Mr Wang, famous for his Wang Dian Chun yellow.

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Mr Wang has two areas similar to a factory structure here in Australia. He grows Group 2 yellows and oranges. The plants are compact, painted face with broad leaves. A mature Wang Dian Chun Yellow sells for the equivalent of US$2,000.

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Unlike other Chinese growers, Mr Wang does put some thought and effort into growing nice flowers, though the leaf structure and shape remains very important.

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Over the next two days we visited several growers who specialise in Engineer Clivia. These plants are known for their veined leaves and fan shape. Seeing a huge line up of these plants is certainly an impressive sight.

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The next photo clearly displays the veins on the leaves and the fan structure.

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All the growers we visited use oak leaf litter for the potting medium. The oak leaves are sifted then covered and left for 6 months to decompost. All plants are repotted twice per year.

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We showed the Chinese growers photos of Hirao and other popular flowers. Their comment was that it was not commercially viable for them to grow anything other than yellow or orange and that the leaves were the most important attribute.

I do love nice fan shape leaves with painted face or veined, but the flower will always be number one for me.

Photographing Clivia

I am not going to pretend for a moment here that I am a great photographer or even a remotely good one.  I am very pleased with many of the Clivia photographs I take and perhaps that is because I take so many, a few would have to turn out satisfactory. Or, perhaps I have a good eye for what makes a plant look attractive and at its best. I think that is the answer. The most professional photographer in the world may not necessarily photograph your plant to look how you would like it to look.

This article aims to be simple and not get into fancy cameras or settings. I have taken many photos with a simple Nikon camera that has automatic settings, and I have taken some fabulous photos with my iphone6.

When a flower is first opening, it is so tempting to want to photograph it immediately, however the plant will not likely look its best until all the flowers are open. I tend to take a few photos as it is opening and then take more when the flowers are fully open. That way I am covered should something happen and I am not able to photograph the plant when it is fully open. An example is a pink flower that opened this season. I photographed the plant as the one flower opened, and had planned to photograph the entire flower head in a few days. That night it was extremely windy and the pot was blown over, damaging all the flowers. I was pleased I had at least that one photograph.

Before I photograph a plant, I gently wipe all leaves to remove dust or marks. Nothing looks worse than a beautiful flower in a photograph with dusty or dirty leaves. If I will be photographing the pot then I clean that too. Generally I do not photograph pots.

If there is a spike in the pot to hold a previous flower up, or to hold this particular peduncle up, then I will remove it for the photographs.

I turn the pot around to determine the best angle for the flower arrangement. Sometimes what you consider the front of the plant does not photograph as well as the back of the plant where there may be more flowers. It is important for balance so it is a good idea to gently swivel the pot in a full 360 degree turn to work out where the best balance is.

The background for me is always a nightmare. I have bought numerous black cloth from stores and have never been happy with it. Somehow it tends to attract light and shine in places rather than be a matt black. I will keep experimenting and hopefully find the right material. I try to have a neutral type of background, whether that be a black material background, a pale coloured wall, or some other surface which is flat and matt. Photographing a flower with a busy background should be reserved for excellent photographers who are able to blur out the background and focus on just the flowers. I am not one of those.

The lighting is very important. I try very hard to capture the exact colour of the flowers. If I photograph indoors, sometimes the colour tends to look a bit pastel compared to if I photograph outside. Often I will try a few different locations and backgrounds before deciding what works for this particular flower. The time of the day makes a difference with the lighting.

Trying to judge what angle works best with photographing a particular flower takes practice and also just a flair for it. Sometimes positioning the camera low and shooting upward towards the flowers works best, other times shooting at an even level is best and other times, shooting slightly sidewards works best. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone sees the flower at its best in a different light.

Photographs that frustrate me and are so often seen on Facebook, websites and forums are the ones where the flower is slightly blurry (or highly blurry) and out of focus, the colour is not correct making the leaves look slightly blue, over exposed photographs and over-done photographs where you can’t believe they are real as they look too sculptured and manicured.

Good photographs are very important for people who wish to sell plants, or sell seeds from those plants, and also to have a good record of your own flowering. It is worth taking some extra time to get the best possible photographs that you possibly can.

An example of good and ordinary photographs taken with a Nikon automatic camera and an iphone6 can be seen on the Clivia Market 2015 flowers Flickr album – flic.kr/s/aHsk895E1N 

Preparing Clivia for Exhibition

This is a timely topic for me considering the Melbourne Clivia Group Expo is only 9 days away as I write this. This is not just for people who wish to exhibit their plants, but even for people who would just like the plants looking their best when visitors come to see them flower. Often we see photographs that people have posted on a forum or Facebook and although the flower may be beautiful, the leaves look dirty, yellowing or generally very untidy. Being a bit of a neat freak, I like my flowering plants to look their optimum whether exhibiting them or not.

It is always preferable for a plant to progress their flower spike and flower outside the house where it is cold and has good lighting. The reason for this is that the colour of the flower will be truer and if there is a green throat to the flower then it will be more prominent. Most years at this particular time of the year, I have to bring many of my plants into the house where it is warm to speed up the flower spike and flowers open, so I can exhibit them at the expo. A warm house is the fastest way of bringing up a spike or getting a flower to open. However, it is important to place the plant near a window or in a location that has good lighting. A common problem with beginners is to place the plant in a slightly dark room or location and the flowers end up looking more of a pastel or lighter colour than they usually would. I made this mistake many years ago and wondered why my pastel was orange the next year when flowering outside.

It is amazing how quickly flowers can open when in a warm house, though with 9 days until the expo and still many green buds, perhaps I left this a bit late. In the right circumstances you can speed the flower spike up by bringing into the house, but then put the plant outside just before the flowers open. If you are not in a hurry to have the flowers then you may have the luxury of leaving the plant outside until the flowers open naturally.

It is important to place something under the pot such as a saucer or even a piece of cardboard as moisture from the pot can find its way out and onto the floor surface ruining your carpet or floor boards.

Around the time that I need to bring the plants in the house, I have a good look at the plant and remove any outer leaves that may be looking a bit worn or unbalance the plant. I wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust or spray residue. I also look for leaves that are broken, yellowed on the ends or have any fungal spots. Using scissors, I trim off the damaged part of the leaf but I shape the end of the leaf to match the rest of the leaf ends. This looks so much better than a straight cut across the leaves.

I also give the plant a good water with a weakened liquid fertiliser or similar to give the flowering a bit of a boost. If the plant is a little crooked in the pot, I may use a small stake to try to straighten the base. Make sure you water the plant once per week if it is in a warm house and heating will dry the pot out faster. Also check for little creepies and crawlies such as Mealy bug, spiders, ear wigs or other nasties.

The day before show day, I clean the outside of the pot with water and a touch of vinegar in the water. This will remove any staining around the drain holes of the pot. If the pot is in really poor condition and won’t come up clean, I place the plant and pot inside a new pot. It needs to be a good tight fit and you would barely realise that it is a pot within a pot.

With cleaning a plant, some people use water with a touch of milk to shine up the leaves. I have tried this but these days I tend to lean towards water with a tad of White Oil in the water. You need to ensure that you do not add too much White Oil or the leaves will look greasy. Just a drop or two into the water will give the leaves a lovely shine without looking oily.

I use a small paintbrush to get at dirt or any other litter that falls down between the leaves. If the top of the potting mix in the pot looks a little old or messy, I lightly top the pot with a new layer. If the flower has a long peduncle and will be travelling by vehicle to a venue, it may be necessary to place a long stake in the pot and gently tie the peduncle to the stake so there is not a lot of movement. It is amazing in a car how much the flower spike shakes around with the normal movement of the vehicle. You can always remove the stake and tie when you arrive at the venue. If you feel the peduncle needs the support then leave the stake and tie. I understand in official shows that this is frowned upon, however for display purposes this is fine.

Plant ready for exhibition.

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.

Winter care of Clivia

Different seasons require different care of your plants, particularly plants in pots. For most Clivia, winter is a time of a degree of dormancy. There is very little root growth or leaf growth during this time.

Clivia need about 6 weeks of cold weather in order to flower. Often species plants such as Gardenii and interspecifics may be flowering during this time.

Watering

I have heard of growers with plants in pots under cover who do not water at all over winter. I do still water my plants but not as often as I do during the growing season. With plants in pots under cover, I water around every 10 days though I always feel the potting mix to determine how dry it is first. With my plants in pots that do get rained on, I may only water every 2 – 3 weeks depending on how much rain we have had and how dry the mix is.

Clivia planted in the garden probably will not need watering over winter. There will be enough moisture in the ground to keep them happy. If you are in an area of low rain fall, you may need to give them the odd watering.

Repotting and Dividing

You can repot or divide a Clivia any time of the year though winter is not the best time as the plant will take longer to establish due to the low root growth during the cold season.

Fertilising

I don’t fertilise my plants over winter as I want them to go through their dormant period and not be induced to grow.

Pests and diseases

Mealy bug tends to disappear of lessen during winter as they prefer a warm humid environment. Having said that, it is still important to keep an eye out for Mealy bug as well as snails, slugs, earwigs and other creepies.

Other care

As berries are ripening and colouring up, often mice or possums think they look like something that may be good to eat, and try to eat them. Usually you find berries missing and seed scattered around where they have been dropped when deemed inedible. If the berries are important to you as you wish to harvest seed, it may be worth covering the berries with netting to protect them.

Watch for water dripping from trees or bushes in the garden. Normal dripping is fine but sometimes the plant may be in a position where it gets extensive water pouring down on it. This can damage leaves and cause rot.

Also watch for leaves and debris building up in the leaves of your plant. After autumn with all the trees losing their leaves, these can easily catch around the base of the plant as well as in the leaves. These leaves then get soggy with the rain and can cause rot.

Winter is a great time as it means we are closer to flowering season.

Fertilising Clivia

Clivia love fertiliser. Fertilising your plant will result in darker green leaves, more growth, a better root system and better flowers. I have often seen plants in need of a good fertilising and the leaves have taken on a more lime green colour. Nothing looks better than a healthy plant with dark green leaves and new leaves developing.

I use a slow release fertiliser that lasts for 12 months on my plants. A small amount is mixed throughout the potting medium and a handful is sprinkled around the top of the pot. I also give my plants a liquid fertiliser once per month. These are plants in pots. Plants in the garden would also benefit from a slow release fertiliser and the occasional watering can of liquid fertiliser.

The following fertilisers are the most popular ones used at present. There are many more good fertilisers not listed here but I have not had experience with the others.

Seasol

Seasol is not a fertiliser. It is more of a tonic. I find it great to give to a stressed plant or when I have just repotted a plant. I use it on plants that seem to have a problem or have dried out too much. It is reported to be good for root growth. I use it diluted in water and watering it in with a watering can.

Aquasol (No longer available)

I find Aquasol a great liquid fertiliser. I give it to my mature plants and a diluted version to my seedlings. I sometimes use it as a foliar spray and sometimes in a watering can.

Charlie Carp

Charlie Carp is a very smelly liquid fertiliser. I have heard some experts say that it is not as good as others such as Aquasol due to the carp living in fresh water and not sea water. I have used Charlie Carp extensively and find it great, however be aware you will need a shower afterwards. I also like the thought that we are helping to get rid of the carp in our rivers.

Thrive

Thrive is also a great fertiliser. I find that it is great for the growth of the leaves and not so much for inducing flowering. I use it at times on my seedlings.

Osmocote

I love Osmocote but to buy it in the quantity I need, it is too expensive. There is a similar product available called Multicote which has the same properties as Osmocote and is a great slow release fertiliser. The one I use lasts for 12 months.

Powerfeed

This product is made by the same company as Seasol. I use this on my young seedlings as I find it is not too strong and encourages growth. I use this as a foliar spray.

Seamungus

This product I also use on seedlings. It comes in a pellet form or a crumble form. I find this not too strong and very good for the young plants.

Stuck flowers

I have seen many people ask questions on various forums regarding plants with flowers stuck down between the leaves and what they can do to get the flower stem to come up. I have also heard of some very weird and wonderful remedies that are ‘guaranteed’ to bring the flowers up.

This can happen to a plant during normal flowering season but I have found it is more common when a plant is flowering out of season. I don’t worry if I can see buds down between the leaves and they seem to take a while to come up. Some plants are just slower than others at elongating the peduncle, however when the flowers start to open when still down firmly between the leaves, then I take action. I have had a number of plants where the stuck flowers have eventually rotted and caused damage to the crown of the plant.

My solution is quite simple. Give the plant a good watering and bring it into the house where it is warm. The warmth in the house brings the peduncle up quite remarkably. The photo on this page shows a plant that has flowered out of season in the shadehouse. The flowers were opening down between the leaves. The second photo shows the flowers one week later after being in a warm house, and yes, my house is very warm. I do like the heater.

Forget about closing the plant in a dark cupboard, giving it all sorts of chemicals, banana peels, or cutting the head off a chicken and dancing naked at midnight. At the end of the day, I have found the warm house works almost every time. I have only had one plant that the flowers did not come up. Later I realised that I had been too late in bringing the plant in. Rot had already started down in the buds and the damage was already done. I had to cut quite a bit of the crown out to save the plant.

Why do some plants have stuck flowers? I don’t really know. As I have mentioned, it does tend to happen when a plant flowers out of season. A plant may flower normally every year and then one year it will have stuck flowers with no real rhyme or reason for it. Some may say a lack of fertiliser, though I can say that is not the case with my plants.

If your plant has stuck flowers and it is in the garden where you cannot bring it into a warm house, I would suggest keeping a close eye on it. Water tends to gather down between the leaves and contribute to the rot. Sometimes I use clothes pegs to hold the leaves apart as then more air can get to the affected area. If you can see that rot is starting or you are concerned about it as the stem has not come up at all, then cut the buds, flowers and stem out. Make sure you sprinkle Sulphur Powder or Mancozeb on the cut areas to help eliminate fungal problems.