I’ve had a common clivia since 1992 or 1993. I got it from Cathy Peachey, who died of breast cancer in 1994. She had three coffee and pastry shops in Indianapolis and I used to go there to buy lemon bars and pecan rolls more than coffee.
When I shopped at the 54th Street and College Avenue store, we’d talk about gardening. One day, she gave me a clump of clivia with fat rhizomes. I didn’t really know much about this woodland grower from South Africa. Clivia miniata is a member of the amaryllis family.
I potted it up and it bloomed the first year and nearly every year after. Every time I see it, I think of Cathy. Lately though, the plant has been on my mind. The leaves get holes in them and tan, crispy streaks of rusty brown.
A few weeks ago, about 20 GardenComm members were here for behind-the-scenes tours of holiday attractions. We started at Sullivan Hardware and Garden, where Pat Sullivan (a GardenComm member) talked about how he’s made the garden center and holiday attraction. Four trains ride through the garden center to visit Santa at the North Pole. This special event sells out.
Then we went to Newfields, where Jonathan Wright told us the why and how we learned the why and how of Winterlights, the display of 1.5 million lights on the campus. Winterlights continues through Jan. 5.
The day after the behind-the-scenes tours, two members from Michigan and I had breakfast at Good Morning Mama’s, a favorite place. That morning, I used my iPhone to take photos of the clivia to show Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, aka The Houseplant guru and author of books about houseplants. Her most recent is Grow in the Dark.
Lisa immediately identified the problem with the clivia as rust. Plant expert Susan Martin of Gardener Sue’s News confirmed the diagnosis. Of course, once named, that’s exactly what it looks like, but it never occurred to me a houseplant could get rust, a common fungus disease on some garden plants, such as hollyhocks.
I will treat the clivia with a natural fungicide, such as copper sulfate. I’m optimistic that the plant will return to it normal vigor. I wonder if moving it outdoors in summer possibly exposes it to the rust fungus.