The Clivia, also commonly known as Kaffir Lily, are native plants to South Africa. The fragrant flowers come in a variety of colors like pale orange to red. This plant, at first glance may remind you of an Amaryllis, but unlike the Amaryllis, the foliage does not die back. When you grow a Clivia from seed, it can take 4 years before it flowers. Clivia seed can take nine months to a year to mature on the plant.
Harvesting the Berries
Just before you pick the berries, fill a bowl with tepid water. The seeds have to be kept moist or they will not germinate well.
Harvest the Clivia berries when the berries feel soft and they have turned yellow or red. Remove the flesh from the berries to get to the seeds and then immediately drop the seeds into the water. Clivia contains small amounts of the alkaloid lycorine, which is a toxin. You may want to don a pair of rubber gloves when working with the Clivia berries and seeds.
Leave the seeds soaking in water overnight until you are ready to plant them. Soaking the seeds helps them to germinate faster.
Prepare Soilless Potting Soil
Prepare a potting soil that is humus-rich and well-draining. You can use pre-packaged potting soil or you can make your own soil by combining equal amounts of peatmoss and perlite together in a bucket. Before you fill the pots, pour some water over the soilless mixture to moisten it. Mix it well with your hands. Peatmoss soaks can soak up a lot of water, but only add a little at a time. You don’t want to end up with a soupy soil to plant the seeds in.
Fill your pots, or cell packs with the moistened potting medium. Lightly press the soil in place to remove air pockets. Place your pots in an old pan with sides. Not only does this make carrying the pots easier, it hold them upright and it provides a place for you to water the plants from the bottom.
Planting the Seeds
Remove one seed from the water. Squeeze the seed between your fingers to remove the thin membrane that covers the seed. Inspect the seeds to find a small dark spot, or an area that has swollen outward slightly. This is the section you need to place against the soil. Gently press the seed into the soil with your fingers, but leave the top of the seed sticking out of the soil.
Cover the pots or cell packs with a sheet of clear plastic. The plastic helps hold in humidity for the seeds to germinate. You can also place them into a large clear plastic bag. Just make sure that the bag is big enough so it can close.
Place the tray in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight or the environment will be too hot for the seeds to germinate. The soil needs to stay around 70° Fahrenheit. If you have a heat mat, put the seed tray on that and set the temperature.
Check the soil daily for moisture and mist it when it feels dry. It can take two weeks to six months before the seeds germinate. Sometimes the root may push the seed out of the soil or it may have been planted upside down. Wait until the root is 1 to 2 inches before planting it back into the soil. This is done by making a hole with a dibble or pencil and then very carefully, inserts the root into the hole. Gently firm the soil around the root.
Remove the plastic once you notice leaves growing. Continue to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Transplant the Clivia into 4-inch pots they had formed their first real leaf and are about 3 to 4 inches tall. Fill the pots with the same mixture you used in germination. Be careful when transplanting to keep the rootball intact. Continue growing the Clivia in a location that receives bright, indirect light, or place them under grow lights. If you decide to use grow lights, they need to be 6 to 8 inches above the top of the Clivia plants.
Fertilize the seedlings once a month with a diluted solution of all-purpose fertilizer.
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“Horticulture”: Bob Polomske; December 1996