Pent up flower

Friends gave us a clivia (an almost flax-like plant with orange trumpet flowers) as a house-warming gift about 3 and a half years ago when we moved into our apartment. I’m not someone who receives plant gifts nervously as generally they survive in my care (in fact I just remembered my recent post about my 18-year old peace lily house plant!)

However, this one has caused me concern from time-to-time – not because of ill health but because it just wouldn’t have a flower! Mum and Dad have quite a few clivias at their place and they’re always in flower. When we received it, I knew that it needed a semi-shady spot and I’ve been around my very botanical family long enough to know that some plants can be precious and need a year or so of growth and settling into a new spot before they’ll have a flower. Right from the start our clivia grew lovely health leaves on quite a regular basis. Lots of times I’d see a new shoot coming up the middle. In fact I think it’s almost trippled in size since we’ve had it.

After about 2 years I asked my awarding-winning landscape designer sister if there could be something wrong with its location in the apartment – it was getting afternoon sun and warmth (just like the lovely sunny warm Bay of Plenty that caused Mum ad Dad’s ones to flower) but only growing more and more leaves. She suggested I move it somewhere a bit more like a shady garden, direct sunlight was not a good thing for it. So after a small stint in the cupboard under the stairs (purely to protect it from our feline visitor who wouldn’ve torn it to shreds) it moved to it’s new home at the bottom of the stairs but in full view of the skylight. Hmmmm, still nothing but lots of leaves. We even parked my gumboots near it and bought a huge painting of the Chrysler Building so it would feel like it was outdoors. No luck. I checked it’s roots, not all knotted so it didn’t seem to mind being in a pot.

Eventually, this summer I began to feel very sorry for it. Never once did I doubt that our friends had given us a dud but rather than I just wasn’t letting it live to its full potential so I made the rather hard decision to take it up to Mum and Dad’s and set it free. In their acres of garden they’ve got an Orange Garden (‘specially for guess who) so I thought it could live there and still be my plant. So it travelled up packed carefully in the boot in January and sat quite happily outside their back door while we took several walks around the garden deciding the best spot to plant it (turns out the Orange Garden was way too sunny for it, and Dad didn’t want to just put it in with all their clivias as it was something special being something of mine that choose to ‘live at home’). However, it was positvely droughty while we were up there and even I know that you don’t put plants in new homes in scorching heat and rock hard soil.  So I patted it goodbye and left it by the back door leaving Mum and Dad to plant it in the chosen spot and I came back to Wellington.


Apparently about a week after I left a strange light-orange coloured leaf started growing out of the middle of it and surprise surprise, 2 weeks later THIS!!!!!

I’m stunned! And feel like a very bad plant-mother! It hasn’t even been set free yet and as soon as I turned my back it’s going to have a gorgeous explosion of trumpets! Although I have to say The Mister and I are wondering if in fact it was going to have a flower anyway, that it just needed 3 and a half years of settling in. Mum reckons it’s the Bay of Plenty sun.


#1 Jolene on 02.19.08 at 2:30 pm

You have your own orange garden??? I’m so jealous!!

#2 Orange Girl on 02.19.08 at 7:20 pm

Yep I do! I don’t actually know what’s in it thought but I do know where it is in their huge garden full of paths and steps and trees. I think a plant called kangaroo paw (because of red/orange ‘flower’ things that look like little kangaroo paws (I’m guessing it’s an Australian plant)) and day lilies – amazing huge flowers that just come out for a day. It’s in a really stifling hot part of the garden so the plants there have to be pretty hardy which is why the clivia has to be planted somewhere else in the undergrowth.

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