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House Plants/cliva plant problem


Hello - I have an orange Clivia miniata plant.

I thought it was fine, as it flowers twice a year, a lovely big flower.  I have suddenly noticed, that on 3 of the outer leaves, on one side only of the plant only, there are little dark red-brown marks, like little dashes, some very small, others 2 mm long, some longer, following the direction of the vein.

Some of them start on the underside, some on the upper side.  I am not sure whether they would eventually go right through, as I removed these 3 leaves, just in case.

There are also a couple of places, near the tip of one of the leaves, where the discolouration was slightly broader - 1-2 mm - but no longer, and has become a small hole.

The plant must be at east 8 years old.  It was given to me by a friend because it was not thriving with her.  It seems happy with me, on a table 2 feet back from a south facing, sunny window.  It has grown considerably since i got it, is about 18 inches high, with 9 leaves either side, and this year has produce a little plantlets each side, with a couple of leaves each.

It is in a terracotta flower pot, 8 inches in diameter.  It may be root bound - some of the roots are appearing on the surface of the potting medium, which has not been changed, but just had a little added to it on the surface.

I have watered it very sparingly, and fed it sparingly in the summer, but, when, in November, i saw signs of a flower, i watered it a bit more.  I am not sure this was a good thing.  The top of the compost looks as if it may have a little mildew.  I have never deliberately allowed it a totally dormant period.

The leaves are green , but not as very deep green as a plant I have in my workplace.  I don't know whether this is just the different variety.  On close inspection, some of the leaves are faintly patterned , like a ladder pattern, verticals with e veins, and horizontals across a slightly darker green

I would be so grateful for your advice  I adore this plant!

Best wishes

Hi Glynis,

The streaks you are noticing on some leaves of your Clivia seem so small that they should not be of concern. It is normal for older leaves to gradually discolor and die back as they age. If any direct sun falls directly on leaves, that may also cause this discoloration. If so, move it just far enough away from the sunny window so it is protected at all times from direct sun falling on leaves. Very bight light will cause leaves to be a slightly lighter shade of green. Clivia does best in bright indirect light - a north or east windowsill is best. It has spectacular flowers and is one of the few flowering plants that will bloom without direct sun.

Otherwise, your Clivia seems to be doing well and you are generally on the right course.
The key to flowering is that it must be utterly potbound. Even very mature plants are rarely in pots larger than 6 to 8 inches. Terra cotta pots help keep them from tipping over. I do suggest that you remove the compost you added to the top. It serves no useful purpose, but it makes it harder to determine when to water and it is probably the cause of the mildew you have found.

During the growing season, from February to July, Clivias should be watered thoroughly when the top half-inch of soil feels dry. By August the plant is preparing for dormancy as leaf growth ceases. Gradually decrease the watering frequency so that from October to February, a monthly watering will suffice or just enough to keep the plant from wilting. During the winter months Clivias prefer a cool location where temps are in the 45 to 60 degree range. However, they will tolerate warmer temps. The cool, dry winter dormant period is what encourages flowering in the late winter. Plants normally bloom in April, but may not flower until late June or early July. It is best to remove spent flowers to prevent the formation of seeds that tend to slow new growth. Because this plant stays in the same pot for so long, it is important to fertilize it regularly at half-strength from late spring through late August.

Yours is a bit out of the normal flowering cycle, so you may have to alter the timing I have outlined above, while maintaining the overall sequence.

The baby plants, called offsets, can be separated, if you want, although not while the plant is flowering or in dormancy. Cut away the offsets with a sharp knife, taking some roots with each one. Pot them in very small pots with a sterile, peat-based potting medium.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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