Q&A: Why Is My Clivia Plant Starting to Yellow?

clivia plant
Q: Many years ago, I purchased a Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata) at the Philadelphia Flower Show and it has special meaning to me. Recently, the bottom leaves are turning yellow. What is causing this and what should I do? Also, sometimes it does not bloom well. Is it true that they need a rest period?

Answer: It is normal for the older leaves to turn yellow and eventually shrivel as the plant ages. Prune off the affected leaves. The rest of the leaves should be green, strappy, and healthy. Yellowing of younger leaves can indicate overwatering: a more-serious symptom. The potting mixture should dry out slightly between waterings when it is actively growing and completely dry out during the rest period.

Clivias do need a dormant period to help with blooming. Starting in late fall or early winter, withhold water and fertilizer and move the plant to a cooler area where temperatures are in the 40–50° F range. Keep it there for about 6–8 weeks, then move it back to a sunny location and begin to water again. You will soon see some
new growth and a flower stalk. At this point, begin to fertilize it every two weeks with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at half-strength. They bloom best when pot bound. Repot your Clivia every three to five years in the spring, after the flowers fade, when necessary.

Visit the Home & Garden Information Center website for more information about houseplant care.

By Debra Ricigliano, Lead Horticulturalist, University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center. This article was published originally in the December 2019 issue of Washington Gardener magazine. Read more posts by Debra.

Have a plant or insect question? University of Maryland Extension’s experts have answers! Send your questions and photos to Ask an Expert.

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