Virtues: A fairly indestructible blooming houseplant (or garden plant in USDA Zones 9 and warmer). Its needs differ from average houseplant care because it likes dry air, dry soil and bright light with no direct sun—making it a natural match for interior growing conditions. It also likes to be potbound and will bloom even in a relatively tiny pot.
Common name: Fire lily, bush lily, clivia
Botanical name: Clivia miniata
Flowers: Rounded clusters of red, orange or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers appear on tall, thick stalks in late winter and early spring, lasting for several weeks.
Foliage: Strappy dark green evergreen leaves, 2 to 3 feet long.
Habit: Clumping evergreen perennial that grows from thick rhizomatous roots.
Season: Late winter/early spring, for flowers.
Origin: Native to South Africa.
Cultivation: Grow Clivia miniata in bright light, but not in direct sun. Use well-draining soil and keep it on the dry side, watering the plant thoroughly only when the top inch of soil feels dry. Allow the plant to remain potbound; roots appearing above the soil line are normal. Repot every 3 to 5 years, after the plant blooms, and step up only one pot size. Clivia miniata likes dry air; they do not need to be misted or stood on a tray of damp gravel like many other houseplants do.
Beginning in fall, give the plant a rest by keeping it in a cool room (50˚–65˚F) and watering it only if it begins to wilt, and then only giving it a splash of water to slightly moisten the soil. After a 6- to 8-week rest, move the plant into a warmer room and begin watering more frequently; blooming should soon commence.
USDA Zones 9–11 for outdoor growing; kept elsewhere as a houseplant. In colder zones it can spend the summer outdoors in a shady location, but it should be brought indoors before the first frost. Fertilize monthly from mid-spring until late summer, using a balanced water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half strength.
Propagation of Clivia miniata: growing from seed can be difficult and it will be years before the plant will flower. An easier way to propagate Clivia miniata is by division, which can be done at any time of year. If you notice offsets (small plants growing from the base of the mother plant), simply pull them off, making sure to include some roots, and pot them. Care for them the same way you care for the mother plant.
Learn all about houseplants, houseplant care and get help with houseplant identification with The Houseplant Encyclopedia.
Read about common houseplants and houseplant care in Jim Hole’s What Grows Here: Indoors: Favorite Houseplants for Every Situation.
Choose tropical plants for your Zone 8 or warmer garden, or plants for growing as annuals or tropical houseplants, with The Tropical Look.