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Calling all Clivia Lovers!

January 7, 2010

Yellow clivia on display at Longwood Gardens We have some exciting opportunities for you! Do you want to learn more about Clivia and its care? Maybe you would like to meet other people who like you, are fascinated by this exotic plant. On March 13 and 14, 2010, Longwood Gardens is hosting a Clivia Show and Lectures.

This will be a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in Clivia to meet fellow enthusiasts, show off their plants, and learn a little more about this blooming treasure. Anyone can enter plants into the show. Lectures will begin at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 13 in the Visitor Center. Lectures include “Growing Clivia on the East Coast” and “Clivia Research at Longwood Gardens.” Clivia enthusiasts are invited to attend a "pay-your-own" group lunch on Saturday at noon, where you can meet fellow enthusiasts and exchange information in a reserved area of Longwood's Terrace Restaurant. Participants can also wander the Conservatory, which will be adorned with thousands of orchids for our Orchid Extravaganza display. This year’s Clivia Show is a precursor to a larger event that will occur next year. In 2011, the North American Clivia Society symposium and show is moving from Southern California’s Huntington Garden and Library to Longwood Gardens. Mark March 19 and 20, 2011 on your calendars, and make plans to attend this joint venture between NACS and Longwood. National and international speakers on a broad range of Clivia topics are being contacted to participate. We hope to also present a 3D slide shows of Clivia and orchids. Look out Hollywood! You have some competition from the plant world. In the near future, Longwood plans to release the first clivia introduction from a 30-year breeding program. Dr. Robert Armstrong began breeding work on Clivia at Longwood back in 1976. At that time, orange was a common color, and yellow-flowered Clivia miniata were very rare. The yellow-flowered plants existing at that time, though exciting in flower color, were not superior in flower size or form.

The breeding program’s focus was to produce plants with superior yellow flowers. The first yellow Clivia came to Longwood from Gordon McNeil in South Africa. This plant was crossed with a plant that had very large orange flowers acquired from Richard Ryan in Delaware. In the following years, other yellows were incorporated into the breeding program, including a yellow plant from Glasshouse works and the yellow Clivia that was to be named ‘Sir John Thouron’ after its donor. Three unique plants emerged from crosses done in the 1990’s. One of these is a yellow that resulted from crosses with the plant from Glasshouse works. This flower opens cream with a green throat with overlapping wide tepals and evenly spaced florets. The flowers are slightly fragrant. A second yellow, which resulted from crosses with Sir John Thouron, produces a round umbel composed of very large florets that is held nicely above the foliage. It resembles a ball on a stick. The third plant has flowers that open dark orange that fade to brick red. This plant also produces purple berries. Its red color is very exciting in the Clivia color pallet.  The breeding program continues today with other objectives. Some of the resulting plants from the program exhibited keeling petals. Keeling refers to a pointy raised area in the middle of a petal. Keel is also used in boating terms referring to the pointy boat bottom. With this new development, we set a goal of breeding to accentuate the keeling. We hope that eventually the keel will separate and became another row of petals. This would result in multipetal, or double yellow flowers. While we work towards this goal, the keeling flowers in both orange and yellow are beautiful in their own right and have potential as keeling cultivars. My head starts swimming when the plants bloom in February and March. The greenhouse is a riot of colors and flower forms. If you can’t make the Clivia Show, don’t fret. You can plan to attend a behind-the-scenes tour of Longwood's Research Department to see the Clivia in their glory. Tours meet under the clock by the Fern Floor in the Main Conservatory. Tours will be held on February 16 and 24 at 1:00 pm, and March 3 at 11:00 am.