Some people refer to the Natal Lily as the ‘Drooping Clivia,’ due to the large cluster of red tube-like flowers that hang from the stem. They were originally named after Lady Charlotte Florentina Clive, Duchess of Northumberland and granddaughter of Robert Clive, better known as Clive of India. She was famous in the world of gardening as the first to cultivate the flower of a Clivia nobilis in her greenhouse.
Clivias are wonderful, hardy plants that do well in almost all garden situations. Native to Natal in South Africa, they add a tropical lushness to any garden with their glossy dark green strap-like leaves and bright orange-to-red flowers. They tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, although they do not like extremely cold regions where they are often grown in pots allowing them to be brought indoors in winter.
Clivia flowers brighten up any garden in winter as their flowering season starts around mid-to-late winter and continues into the summer months. They can grow in dense shade but prefer filtered light, which makes them ideal for growing under the shade of trees, along the dark south sides of houses or for filling in gaps in the garden. Clivias perform well in soil that is free draining and mulched, although this is not essential.
They are very drought tolerant, requiring some watering in the spring and summer, with practically no watering over the cooler months of winter. Use a complete fertiliser in spring, preferably a slow release product. The dead flowers do not have to be removed as another spectacular feature of the Clivias is the red berries they produce. These set seeds and can produce new plants, although they will take about five years to produce any flowers.
Due to the popularity and durability of Clivias they have become quite expensive. Dividing your existing clump is the most productive and cost-effective way to expand your display. Division can take place anytime after flowering, although spring time is the best. Simply lift the plant from the soil and separate into smaller sections by cutting and breaking up the clump. Then replant the smaller pieces.
Where can Natal Lilies be seen in the Parklands?
Clivia nobilis can be seen in Centennial Parklands amongst the other Clivia miniata planted en masse adjacent to Randwick Gates on Grand Drive, and also near the Café under the fig tree near the womens' amenities block.