Clivia miniata

Common names: Bush Lily, Boslelie, Fire Lily

If you ever have to choose one spring-flowering indigenous plant for your garden, it surely has to be a Clivia miniata. The bright orange flowers add a warm flair to any garden, are long-lasting, and signal the end of winter. Being endemic to Southern Africa, it means that they do not occur naturally anywhere else in the world. The rest of the world also has a love affair with Clivia plants making it a collector’s item for many Clivia-lovers.

Growing Clivia miniata is easy

… and very rewarding. Plant in dappled shade under trees in well-composted soil – the compost will also help with water retention during dry periods.  In summer (the growing season of Clivias) the plants should be watered regularly, especially newly planted plants. Older plants can tolerate fairly long dry periods. Clivias are spectacular container plants and should be grown in a well-drained potting medium which is enriched with compost. Give Clivias a good compost feed once a year and always have a layer of mulch spread on top of the soil. It will help cut down on watering and it also mimics their natural growing conditions.


Clivia is a fairly slow-growing plant and forms a neat clump of strap-shape dark green leaves, while the roots are thick and fleshy.  The bright orange flowers appear around September in an umbel of funnel-shaped flowers with yellow flushed throats. The flowers make good cut flowers and last up to 2 weeks in a vase. The flowers are followed by a round red fruit with yellowish seeds embedded in a similar coloured pulp, and the seed takes up to 10 months to ripen. Always keep your eye on your Clivia flowers because snails can destroy them overnight, leaving you with ugly flowerless stalks.

How to grow the Lily of the Bush

Clivias can be propagated by sowing the seed or dividing the clumps. Note that plants grown from seeds normally takes 3 to 4 years before flowering! Clivias are a crowded grower but will benefit from being split every 4 to 5 years.  Dig up the plant after flowering in spring. Lift the plants from the ground and pull the plant apart, separating individual stems with a healthy portion of roots. Replant the division but make sure not to plant the plants deeper than they were previously grown in. Water thoroughly after planted. 

This lily of the bush attracts a host of insects to the garden and are suitable for forest, formal, tropical or woodland garden themes. They are specifically spectacular in mass planting under large trees.

There are different subspecies of Clivias (Clivia caulescens, Clivia Gardenia, Clivia mirabilis and also the yellow Clivia miniata var. Citrinus) with different flowering times. 

If Protea cynaroides is the king of South African plants, then surely Clivia miniata must be the queen.

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