Major Garden's clivia is a subtle and delicately pretty sister to
the well known Clivia miniata (Bush Lily) which has been
in cultivation for many years. Where the Bush Lily has a head of
trumpet-shaped flowers, Major Garden's clivia has slender, tubular
flowers which hang downwards in the inflorescence. The flowers are
orange in colour, the petals tipped with green. There are two other
species of Clivia which have similar pendulous flowers, C.
nobilis (Eastern Cape clivia) and C. caulescens (growing
predominately in Mpumalanga and Northern Province). There are four
species of Clivia in total and all occur naturally only in
South Africa, although they are cultivated widely throughout the
world. Clivia are the subject of many breeding programs which
produce spectacular colours and forms.
Like all Clivia, Major Garden's clivia grows
in the shade of forests and is a clump forming perennial plant which,
although slow growing, can attain a great age. The clumps reach
up to 60 cm in height. Flowering occurs from April until June. Bright
red fleshy berries follow the flowers and are eaten by birds.
Derivation of Name
Clivia - after the Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Charlotte Clive who first cultivated and flowered the type specimen in England.
gardenii - after Major Robert Garden, who was stationed in KwaZulu Natal as a soldier between 1848 - 1853.
Growing Clivia gardenii
Originating mostly from Kwazulu-Natal, C. gardenii
makes a beautiful addition to the shady garden. It is apparently
able to tolerate fairly dry conditions, the roots are fleshy and
have water storage capabilities. This makes it a wonderful waterwise
garden plant. It is also an excellent pot specimen that requires
a well drained humus-rich potting medium.
If planted in very deep shade, flowering may be adversely affected.
Clivia also do not thrive in sunny conditions, becoming yellow
and stunted. They should be planted in a shady position with plenty
of compost and bone-meal added to the soil.
Propagation may be through division or by seed. Clumps
can be split up in late winter and replanted or bagged. Seed should
be cleaned as soon as it is harvested. The fleshy pulp is peeled
off revealing the large, pearly seed within (Please note that
Clivia belong to the family Amaryllidaceae of which many species
are poisonous and it is advisable to wash your hands after handling
the plants). These should be sown immediately in a deep seed-tray
with seedling mix. The large seeds can be pressed gently into the
seedling mix until they are flush with the surface and then covered
lightly with sieved mix . If the seedling mix is too tightly packed
in the tray, the young root will not be able to penetrate it and
will lift the seedling right out of the soil. The medium should
not be allowed to dry out and since germination is relatively slow,
the seed trays should be monitored for signs of algal or fungal
growth on the surface.
Some Clivia species are used traditionally
for the treatment of childbirth complications and also snakebite,
however there are findings that the chemical constituents in Clivia
rhizomes (the parts used) are dangerous and should be avoided for
Sadly its popularity as a medicinal plant and the
fact that the rhizome is removed for use has led to the demise of
natural Clivia populations in many areas.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden