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For a little patience, a lot of clivias.

For a little patience, a lot of clivias Low cost and ease are two good reasons to grow clivias from seed. A single flower head has up to 20 berries, each containing several large seeds that you can simply extract and grow. A 1-gallon nursery plant, on the other hand, costs about $9.

You need more patience than effort, since a seedling usually takes at least three years to bloom. The leaves and flowers may differ slightly from those of the parent plant. What follows is one way to grow clivias successfully from seed, developed by horticulturalist George Scott of Arcadia, California.

Harvest berries when they are ripe; they turn from green to orange or red, or, rarely, cream. Berries take 6 to 12 months to ripen, so mature berries and fresh flowers may be together on the same plant (see picture at right).

The flesh of ripe berries is soft and pliable. Squeeze the seeds from the berries, rinse them off, and wrap each one in a moistened paper towel or napkin. Insert the wrapped seeds in a plastic sandwich bag and store in a cool place until they germinate; this may take up to two months. Keep the wrap moist, but not wet, until seeds sprout. Not all seeds will germinate, so start with plenty.

When the seed's young root and leaves sprout, bury it, up to its leaves, in a 4-inch container filled with well-draining potting mix. When leaves are about 2 inches long, begin feeding the plant liquid fish emulsion at eight-week intervals.

At the end of the second year, when leaves are 6 to 8 inches long, you can set plants outdoors in a shaded bed--if you live in a mild climate. In areas with frost, grow clivia as a house plant during the winter, then set outdoors in shade in summer.
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Date:Feb 1, 1990
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