Grow Clivias

For such a small genus, Clivia generates tremendous interest among gardeners and plant lovers around the world. Several years ago, we excerpted a portion of Harold Koopowitz’s excellent Clivias, an engaging and thorough treatise on the subject. Graham Duncan had already produced one small volume on growing clivias at that time. This new book, in the Kirstenbosch Gardening Series, is a fully updated and expanded edition of his earlier publication.

The author is widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most knowledgeable plantsmen, with a particular interest in the country’s geophytes, on which he has produced several books. Clivias are another of his passions, and his enthusiasm shows through in the concise text that traces the natural distribution of the genus, its taxonomy, cultivation, propagation, and hybridization. In superb color photographs, mostly by the author, we are treated to a glorious array of clivia blossoms, in every color and form, from the six species through all the selections and hybrids now available.

Of particular interest to those of us gardening in a mediterranean climate is the recent discovery of a new species, Clivia mirabilis—the only one found naturally in the western Cape Province, one of the five regions of the world with that climate type. Easily as spectacular in flower as any of the other species, C. mirabilis could transform the range of adaptability for the genus through hybridization with its brethren from moister climates. Seed of this species is just beginning to be distributed.

Grow Clivias may be hard to find, but worth the search; try the Botanical Society of South Africa (www.botanicalsociety.org.za). Although many nurseries in the West grow clivias, the internet may prove the best source for the named cultivars.

Note: The price shown above is an approximate conversion into U.S. dollars, and does not include shipping costs from South Africa.

Richard G Turner Jr, editor