Kaffir Lily Care

Written by michelle wishhart
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Kaffir Lily Care
The bright red orange flowers of the Kaffir lily. (Kaffir lily image by Fyerne from Fotolia.com)

Kaffir lily (Clivia miniata) is a clump-forming perennial, characterised by showy, funnel-shaped red orange flowers and thick, lush green leaves. The plant is fairly low maintenance, and grows well as a house plant with little care. Kaffir lily is highly toxic and should be kept away from children and pets.

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Kaffir lily grows exclusively in southern Africa, thriving in the forests of the Eastern Cape and Swaziland, among other regions. The plant grows naturally in subtropical rainforests, high altitude forests and ravines. When grown indoors, the lily prefers a location with bright, indirect sunlight or dappled shade. Kaffir lilies must undergo a winter dormancy. During this time, the plant may be placed in a cool bedroom or warm garage with a temperature of about 10.0 to 12.7 degrees C.


Plant Kaffir lily in a well-draining, organic soil, and water regularly during the summer growing season to keep the soil moist to the touch. The lily works well in a container, so long as there is a hole in the bottom for drainage. A clay pot works better than a plastic pot, as Kaffir lilies are heavy and may tip a plastic pot over. Reduce watering during the winter, allowing soil to almost completely dry out.


Outdoor plants can benefit from an annual application of a thick, organic mulch such as rotted compost. Mulch helps to retain moisture, while also suppressing potential weeds. Fertilise every two weeks or so during the spring and summer with a slow-release granular fertiliser. This promotes healthy flower growth. Kaffir lilies are quite disease- and pest-resistant. Check indoor plants occasionally for common house plant pests such as mealy bugs and scale.


Propagate Kaffir lily by seed, or by removing suckers. Remove the bright orange or yellow fruits from the plant and split open to retrieve the shiny, pulp-covered seeds. Sow fresh weeds for best results, pressing the seeds into a deep tray filled with a sterilised seedling potting mix. If the soil is kept moist, seedlings will germinate in four to six weeks. Wash hands thoroughly after handling the pulpy fruits, as Kaffir lily is toxic.

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