How to Flower Spring Blooming Orchid Cactus and Clivias
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Orchid Cactus ‘Unforgettable’
Orchid Cactus ‘Vista Sun’
Fire Lily ‘Golden Dragon’
Orchid Cactus have some of the most spectacular springtime blooms. On mature plants, waves of flowers open over several weeks during their blooming cycle. The trick to flowering spring blooming Orchid Cactus or Clivias is to provide the right growing conditions nine months earlier.
Flowering Spring Blooming Orchid Cactus
Orchid Cactus are native to Central and South America. To mimic their natural habitat, give them a period of dryness with cool nighttime temperatures in the winter. Once the plant is blooming size, totally restrict water starting in November or early December and make sure that the nighttime temperatures are from the mid 30°’s to mid 50°’s consistently until buds begin to form. This happens in late winter and early spring. Don’t be dismayed if the leaves shrivel somewhat. They will bounce back once you resume watering.
Buds form in the notches of the flattened leaves and once they are visible resume watering and growth will begin again. At this time you can water the plants regularly, imitating the rainy season. Apply moderate amounts of fertilizer, for during this period of active growth the plant is creating next year’s blooms. Remember, do not prune during this active growth cycle.
How to Grow Orchid Cactus
We grow our Orchid Cacatus in hanging baskets where the long flat leaves spill over the edges and, in time, beautiful full specimens are created. Since these plants are tree dwellers in the tropical rainforest, their natural habit is to hang. Orchid Cactus are easy to grow and have a forgiving nature. If you need to prune older plants, do it after the flowering cycle is completed. You can take a vacation even when the plants are actively growing and they will be happily waiting when you return. Once you flower an Orchid Cactus, you’ll be hooked on their beauty and ease of care.
How to Flower Clivias
Clivias are similar to Orchid Cactus in that they also need a dry period from November to January. Clivias are from Natal, South Africa, where in the winter there is no rain and temperatures hover just above freezing. To mimic their native habitat, make sure the winter nighttime temperatures are in the mid 30˚’s to the 50˚’s and totally restrict water at this time. By early February resume watering and buds will emerge with blooms arriving in late winter or early spring.
How to Grow Clivias
Clivias grow best when they are pot bound with the roots filling up the pot. Older plants can be divided, which is best done right after flowering. This can be quite a chore as the roots and new shoots are all tangled up in a large mass. Sometimes it’s best to use a knife to cut them into manageable divisions. Be sure each division has both leaves and roots. Throughout the summertime increase your water and fertilizer to ensure next year’s flowers. With a little care and attention, these South African plants will astound you with their lovely springtime bloom. Best of all, as a potted plant they are nearly indestructible.