Clivia miniata - variegated seedlings predictions

Started by kisaac, March 17, 2024, 09:48:09 AM

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Hello Clivia miniata growers/breeders!

Help me predict the survival of some variegated Clivia miniata seedlings.
I didn't breed these, so I know little about provenance of each group of seeds.
Here is the seedling tray: 
Group 1:  (Top of the tray- in roughly two lines- ten seedlings)
These are 'regular' Clivia miniata seedlings- orange bloom, non-variegated foliage parents.  It provides a comparison, as all were germinated the same time.  This group seems well on their way to solid growth...

If you have any experience with variegated seedlings:
In the middle of the seedling tray are several germinated rows, but seedlings seem to have a failure to thrive.  I am assuming this is due to the documented Clivia variegation issue that some offspring will express variegation in albino leaves- having no or too little chlorophyl for successful photosynthesis if this is manifest in all leaves.

Are these lighter colored seedlings (yellowish leaves) in the middle of the tray doomed?  I don't know if albino leaves would be totally white or light yellow as they are showing.   The leaf growth is stunted on these lighter yellow seedlings as well- compared to the variegated seedling leaf showing stripping, adjacent.  I assume these are siblings, but cannot be sure.  Time will tell- but I'm just incredibly curious.

FWIW: These seed were sold to me by a U.S. supplier who said they were Chinese varieties of variegated Clivia miniata: including 'light of buddha,' 'LiBan Color,' 'YuanBao Jade,' and 'Painter Color' varieties.
Member: : Pacific Bulb Society


Variegation is a reduced amount of chlorophyll, so variegated plants cannot photosynthesise as much as totally green ones, so they grow slower. In outdoor plants in particular, the lack of chlorophyll may also sometimes lead to scorching.
Slow growth is compensated for in some plants, especially cacti and succulents, by grafting, as the stock will photosythesise as normal. Indeed, a few varieties lack chlorophyll almost or absolutely entirely, so would never grow unless grafted.

Many plants (possibly all?) are variegated due to virus infection and there is lots of debate how deleterious the virus infection alone, is to plant growth etc.

A very few years ago, an exceedingly highly variegated Acanthus was introduced in the UK - "Tasmanian Angel" - leaves are/were almost entirely cream/pinkish-cream, just splashes of green. Even plants offered for sale were frequently scorched and the one that I bought, even though in a very shady position, with filtered light, never thrived. The orginal plant is a curio of no major use apart from making competant nurseries, lots of money, although plants offered as this name now, seem to carry far, far more chlorophyll.


Hi Ken,

I selfed a nice yellow that I was able to select from a group of Monrovia plants a few years back.  The 30 seedlings have all green bases indicating yellow or some color than orange.  I believe that because this selfed cross produced seedlings with all light colored bases, it indicates that the plant is considered to be a Group 1 Clivia.  Regardless of that, 16 of them are variegated!  About half of those are very nicely variegated.  All plants are doing quite well with both variegated and non-variegated growing at similar rates.  Some in each group are faster than others. 

Some seedlings were lost early on, as expected, but it was before first true leaf development and before any noticeable variegation.  From past reading, if a mother plant is strongly variegated, it may produce seeds that grow out as albino seedlings or ones so heavily variegated that they die early on.  I've never really had this many seedlings to tend, but it is fun watching the development.  About 6 months on, half strength liquid fertilizer REALLY helped improve rate of growth.  Fertilization is weekly now, half rate.

I hope yours grow on strongly!

Interlaken, NY Zone whatever, it's 6, was 5, this winter 7, maybe 8.  It's snowing today.  Happy Spring!


There are a number of different forms of leaf variegation in Clivia, and they behave differently. First off, while viruses may cause variegation in some species, I have not seen any viruses in Cliva species caused by viruses.

With the exception of "Tiger" variegation (not to be confused with clivia cultivars referred to by some chinese breeders as "Tiger" variegation is generally maternally inherited.  So, the berry parent must carry the trait for it to be passed on.

The most commonly recognized form of variegation for most folks is longitudinal. In clivia this is maternally inherited. In a general sense, the berry parents most likely to pass on the trait will have many stripes rather than leaves that are 1/2 white/yellow and 1/2 green. This latter form is sometimes referred to as "duck" form and it is not easy for such a plant to pass longitudinal variegation.  It is much more likely from a plant with many stripes. Oversimplifying, consider that the chances of an ovule developing with both green and white tissue is slim if the only chance is to be derived from the one spot where green and white meet on a plant that is 1/2 green and 1/2 white. If there are 10 stripes the chances are much higher.

When there are lots of stripes in the mother plant you will potentially see a full array of levels of variegation in the offspring. This means some totally green, some totally white/yellow (albino) that will die, some with lots of stripes, some with few stripes, some with minor stripes, some mostly white/yellow but some green that will grow slow or be feeble.  Assume 1/3 descent variegation, 1/3 mortality and 1/3 green. 

Light of Buddha variegation has yellow/while coloring in the center of the crown to one degree or another. This can be hardly any to mostly yellow. In generally nearly 100% will show some of this pattern. It may be the case that the plant needs to mature to see it and it may be the case that only the inflorescence stalk will show the pale coloration.

Akebono coloration in its best form has broad horizontal bands of lighter coloration along the leaves... not emanating from the center like Light of Buddha. Inheritance is also near 100% to one degree or another. In addition there it seems that some akebono plants can transmit the trait via pollen so it may not be strictly maternally inherited. Akebono variegastion can also cause the bloom color to be more pale than would otherwise be the case. Orange may appear more pastel in coloration.

Finally back to "tiger" variegation. Here there are thin horizontal bands... sometimes very thin. As well there are often welts associated with these horizontal stripes.  With this form of variegation it can be transmitted by pollen, and you are likely to get better tigers as well as more tigers if the trait is present in both parents. Tiger variegation is relatively new. Because it can be passed via pollen you can get clivia plants that have both longitudinal as well as horizontal stripes.  Moreover because Akebono can also (rarely) pass via pollen you can get a single plant with 3 forms of variegation simultaneously.

Very recently a new form of variegation has appeared. These are called Blood Clivia... here there is blood red coloration mixed with green. This is heritable, but I do not know the genetic mechanism. 

When akebono or light of buddha seedling start with a pale leaf they are more difficult to keep alive. Often green leaves will follow. Try to make sure they have ample light but not so strong that they burn. I use wire shelves and a single LED tube shoplight for my seedlings. You can run the lights 24/7 to facilitate quicker growth. Clivia do not need much water and are prone to rot when they are too wet but seedlings cannot be allowed to dry out. I tend to water every day via misting. Others keep them under a humidity dome... I prefer not to for fear of fungal issues. Some use captan powder to guard against fungal attacks. 

Finally good tiger and akebono banding can be less well defined if plants to not get a dormancy period. Tiger variegation can disappear altogether as well and then reappear... and I don't think anyone really knows why. Such plants can still pass on the trait. 

Anyway hopefully this helps

Daylily and Clivia Addict