Old Clivias never do anything!

jockewing(9a)May 18, 2013

I live in S. Louisiana just north of New Orleans, zone 9a. Occasionally we get temps down into the mid 20s, and on those nights, I usually bring my 2 clivias inside. Every other day of the year they are outside either under the shade of the covered back porch or on the front step under the shade of a crape myrtle.

I can't even really remember when I bought these clivias, but it has to be at least 5-7, maybe even 10 years ago. They have always had leaves and looked healthy, but rarely do they bloom. The one in the larger ceramic pot has multiple stalks but I don't remember if it ever bloomed, except for a couple of really pitiful stalks that really didn't even grow tall enough to reach past the leaves. The one in the smaller pot usually puts up at least one halfway decent stalk each year, but nothing like the beauties I see in the pictures. I thought after all these years they would be so pot bound they should bloom reliably.

I notice the larger one is starting to look bad like it might have some rot. Can you please tell me what I should do with these? They were probably potted in straight potting soil, but I now usually pot in a loose mix with a lot of bark fines and perlite. I just totally rejuvenated some African violets that were in too heavy soil and they have rebounded wonderfully. Wonder if that's what I should do with the clivias? Below are pictures. Should I repot? And in what medium? What should I follow as a watering/fertilizing schedule, and how can I get those magnificent blooms?

Like I said, I've been hanging on to these things for a long time, and I'd like to get some dividends for my patience. One year I forgot to bring them in when we had a freeze and a lot of the leaves got burned, but it recovered from that.

The bigger, less successful plant:

The smaller one that at least blooms, although nothing to write home about:

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Just wanted to add that I just pulled them out of the pots. The smaller is almost all root---the bigger is as I feared, a lot of the outer roots are rotting. How do I repot? Wash off all the old dirt and use new? The medium in the larger pot is too dense I'm afraid.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 1:42PM
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Hello! Is anyone on the Clivia forum?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Sorry no one is answering your question. I noticed right away in your biggest pot that it didn't look like there was any perilite in your soil. And possibly not a drainage hole. If it were mine, I would remove it from pot, cut off rotting roots, dust with sulfur ( can be bought at garden supply store), repot in like cactus soil, perilite, and 1/3 bark. Then don't water for a couple weeks to discourage any further rot. Then if your using the same pot (make sure it has drainage) put something under pot so water can drain more freely instead of being flush with the ground.

I had one given to me in the same situation. I couldn't get the roots to stop rotting until I used sulfur. I hope this helps. I'm not the most experienced, but I've been reading alot on growing Clivias. I think yours are very pretty and well worth the effort put into saving them.

To get your smaller one to have a longer bloom stem, plants need at least a 6 week coldness and withhold water at that time. So from like end of October till February, try to place them in like 55 degree temps. This will encourage flowering and make long blooms.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!!

This post was edited by teisa on Thu, May 23, 13 at 1:09

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:03AM
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Teisa, thanks for replying. I don't know why anyone is answering either. Usually including pictures entices people to post--guess the Clivia forum isn't busy enough.

Anyway, I did take them out of the pots and pulled off all the rooted roots and really flushed all of the soil out of the roots. Don't know how, but there were big clods of mucky clay like material under the roots. Certainly didn't plant in clay.

I repotted in potting soil mixed with a ton of perlite, vermiculite and coarse bark chips. I am only going to water infrequently for the first couple weeks. Trouble with a very thick leaved plant like clivia is it isn't that easy to see if the plant is responding to the changes you've made.

My clivias stay outside at least 360 days of th year, I only bring inside on the rare nights we are forecast to go into the 20s. So they get plenty of time at 55 degrees and under. I really never consciously fertilized them on any set schedule before, and probably went several years without ever fertilizing them. That was probably my issue.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Sounds like after years, your soil broke down and became that mucky "clay" you mentioned. You did exactly the right thing by changing the media and washing the old mix off the roots and trimming away rot. You should see improvement in your larger Clivia now.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 3:07AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

This forum can go weeks or longer with no activity. If you try searchng at the bottom of the clivia forum home page, you will find some older posts that address your questions. I have found the container gardening forum very useful for information about potting mixes and fertilizing. I use the gritty mix and Foliage Pro fertilizer discussed there on my clivias and many other tropical plants. The truth is most plants need the same care.

I have been growing clivias for about 10 years and got so hooked on them that I have about two dozen mature clivias and as many young ones. They need very fast draining soil and can go a long time between waterings. You may get enough rain that they would rarely need watering. If you want a better chance of getting them to bloom, you need to fertilize regularly with a fertilizer that includes micronutrients. I use a soluble fertilizer with a 3-1-2 NPK ratio (Foliage pro) at least every two weeks from spring through fall. Many people use Osmocote controlled release fertilizer according to package directions as well as soluble fertilizers. I also suspect your clivias would benefit from getting brighter light. They will burn in your summer sun, but could benefit from a little early morning sun or at least dappled shade for part of the day.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 6:12PM
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vineyarder(USDA 7)

I have always grown my clivias in one of the light potting mixes like Pro-mix. That mud like substance you talked about could be broken down bark... Never a good addition to houseplant mixes.. I keep them outdoors where they get some sun for part of the day, but not the hot midday sun, they get watered more often in summer due to the higher temps and greater airflow than in winter when indoors, lower temps and less air movement. The lower winter temps and dryness induce them to flower more readily. I grow a number of varieties including the 'Light of Buddha' types, and dwarf 'Henglan' types. I breed them and raise the seedlings, though most are given away before I see them bloom.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2015 at 7:19PM
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