Clivia x cyrtanthiflora (ht 60 cm) is a hybrid between Clivia miniata and Clivia nobilis and has pale to medium orange flowers in large clusters of narrow, pendulous blooms, mainly from late winter to early spring, but they can appear at other times of year too. It is probably the most commonly seen pendulous form seen in Sydney gardens and is often referred to as Clivia nobilis, though this species is rarely seen here.
All Clivia plants actually want to grow in shade, even quite deep, dry shade; in fact, their foliage and flowers will suffer if grown in too much sun. Their dark green, strappy leaves are attractive all year round and Clivia slowly expand to form an excellent, low-maintenance groundcover in difficult shady spots. Good drainage is essential. They appreciate watering in spring and summer during dry spells in their early days, but are tough and undemanding once established. Fertilise and apply an organic mulch around the plants in late winter or early spring. Although frost-sensitive, they can be protected from milder frosts if grown under a tree or shrub canopy.
The lively colour of orange Clivia flowers combines well with other hot coloured blooms of mid-late winter and early spring which grow in part-shade, such as red camellias, Abutilon, nasturtiums or firefly (Justicia rizzinii). The startling and unusual flower of the South African paintbrush lily bulb (Scadoxus puniceus) appears at exactly the same time as the Clivia and enjoys the same garden conditions. The colour of the clivia is also an effective partner to shade-tolerant blue or purple flowers, such as bluebells, Brunfelsia species or Streptocarpus saxorum (sometimes called the nodding violet). In small gardens, the same colour combination can be achieved by growing Clivia in a bright blue pot!
Clivia seem subject to few diseases; however, in poorly drained soil they may become afflicted by collar rot. Removing the plant from the ground, dusting it with sulphur powder and wrapping it in sphagnum moss may save the plant. Pests include snails, which can destroy the flowers, or more seriously, the scary black and yellow striped amaryllis caterpillars (also known as the lily borers), which can cause a lot of damage to the whole plant in a very short time and should be dealt with promptly, using a product such as Success, Dipel or a pyrethrum spray. Clivia can be propagated by dividing the clumps at any time of year, or by sowing seed, which will take around four to five years to produce a flowering plant.
I have found Clivia to be an excellent cut flower, lasting up to a week in a vase.