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Turquoise Puya

Clivia robusta

The beautiful Clivia robusta is a rarely seen cousin of the beloved Clivia miniata.  As you might guess from its name, it is very robust, growing to 5 feet tall, making it one of the largest Clivias.  This striking member of the Amaryllis family is a newly-described species, formerly considered a large form of Clivia gardenii.  Each autumn and winter, it puts on a gorgeous display of pendulous, reddish-orange flowers tipped with green.  It is rare in its homeland of South Africa, where it is threatened with extinction.  Seeds don't germinate well unless fresh, so i offer established plants.

Clivia robusta

Clivia robusta is a fast-growing species found in marshes and shallow rivers, hence its nickname "Swamp Clivia".  Despite coming from wetter soil than the common Clivia miniata, it's equally easy to grow.  It has an upright habit, with strap-like leaves that can grow 5 feet long.  The tall flower stalk usually has from 1 to 2 dozen blooms.  The flowers are about 2 inches long and have a nice, satiny sheen.  The plant can flower as early as 4 years old, which is fairly young for Clivias.  You should be able to cross-breed it with some other Clivia species and create interesting new hybrids!

Clivia robusta has similar requirements to the common Clivia.  It does best in temperatures below 90 degrees F (32 degrees C), with nights that are cool.  It may not thrive in areas that are consistently hot with warm nights (above 65F / 18C).  It might be able to survive a light frost, but it should be protected from freezing temperatures.  It grows well indoors in a pot.  It likes fertile, well-draining soil.  A typical mix is equal parts of potting soil and fine orchid bark or perlite.  While the roots can tolerate submersion in water, this isn't necessary - just keep the soil evenly moist.  Filtered sunlight or bright shade is best for this forest plant.  Protect it from strong sun exposure.

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Photo #2 by Gerhard Faber

 

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