How to Grow and Care for Clivia (Bush / Kaffir) Lilies in Containers

Bush lily Clivia miniata

Intro: The Clivia lily, also called flame lily, kaffir lily or bush lily, is a fantastic container plant for shady balcony gardens. These flowers have clumps of orange, red or yellow flowers that resemble those of geranium flowers. They can also grow well in indoor gardens. These larger flowers should be kept in 12-inch or larger pots and be a few years old before they are expected to bloom (see Misc. Info for more information on how to make the Clivia lily bloom). While the plant is not blooming, its interesting thick, dark green leaves still make for an attractive display in the balcony container garden.


Scientific Name: Clivia miniata

Plant Type: Flower

Light: Place your bush lily in a spot where it will receive partial sun to dappled shade.

Water: To care for your bush lily plant, water it well during flowering season (spring, summer), but keep a little drier in autumn and winter to promote flower blooms (see Misc. Info for more information). Do not overwater your Clivia lily.

Fertilizer: Fertilize the kaffir lily with a high-nitrogen fertilizer regularly. Before it flowers in the spring, feed a high-potassium fertilizer to promote beautiful flower blooms.

Temperature: The bush lily flower will do well outdoors all year in Hardiness Zones 9b to 11. Overwinter your bush lily indoors if you live in a colder climate. See "What's My Hardiness Zone?" for more information.

Pests and Diseases: Look out for the lily borer caterpillar, aphids, thrips and whitefly insect pests. Snails and slugs may be a problem on your Clivia lily. To avoid rot, rust and mildew, do not overwater your bush lily plant.

Propagation: There are many ways to propagate the bush lily flower. Plant the bush lily's seeds, cut the entire plant in half, divide its rhizomes or cut offsets with a sharp tool. (Offset cuttings will not flower for several seasons.) Be aware that if you use seeds from a yellow-flowering bush lily, its seeds may not produce yellow-flowering offspring. Often the flower color can be different from the parent’s.

Misc. Info: If placed in the sun, the bush lily plant will probably get leaf tip burn. Every part of this container plant is poisonous.

To get the Clivia lily plant to flower, first you need to wait until it is several years old (and has more than 12 leaves). Make sure that it gets one month of cool temperatures at night. After this, water the plant lightly very sparingly. Fertilize well with a high-potassium fertilizer before spring, and it should bloom in the springtime with gorgeous clumps of colorful flowers. Once the flowers are spent, cut off the entire flower stalk so that the plant does not produce berries. Producing berries may prevent it from flowering in the next season.


Bush Lily Flowers

Bush lily container plant

Bush lily plant

Additional information