What to Plant in October

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs you can plant in October in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the name for the growing guide for each vegetable or herb:

Plant of the Month- The spectacular Clivia

The beautiful Clivia is a herbaceous under storey plant native to southern Africa that has adapted to low light conditions and is long lived.

The genus name Clivia is after the Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Charlotte Clive, who first cultivated it in England.

The dramatic tubular shaped flowers are carried on umbels on thick stalks above the lush, dark, sword like leaves. The vibrant blooms range in colour from yellow through salmon and orange to deep red. Once in bloom the flowers last for many weeks, brightening any dappled corner of the garden.

Clivias can grow to about 4-60cm in height and 30 cm in width depending on the variety.

Detail of the structure of the flower showing its arrangement of stamens and the anther.

The flowers are arranged in umbels ( umbrella like structure of stalks that radiate from a single point at the top of the main stem) each stem carrying a flower. Individual flowers have three sepals and three petals that are fused at the base to form a tube. Depending on the variety, the shape varies from cup shaped to a narrow pendulous tube. Each flower has six stamens with long filaments and anthers that are free moving. The style is longer than the flower and ends in a three part stigma (click on the image above for extra detail of the flower structure).

Clivias mainly flower from spring to early summer. In Sydney that is August to November. Clivia gardenii flowers in autumn

When flowering is finished and if pollinated the Clivia will produce a fruit that is a fleshy berry that darkens to red and can contain 1-15 seeds. These berries can be harvested when mature and used to propagate new plants. Given the slow growing nature of the Clivia, growing seed to maturity will demand patience from the grower!

The image below shows the Clivia in three forms: the buds, the flowers emerging and behind the berries forming that contain the seeds.

Three stages of flowering from the bud to the fruit.

The long leaves arise from a rhizome of thick branching roots and form in a tight, stacked shape and as the plant grows it produces new suckers and so the plant becomes larger. The roots cover an area of 30cm and store water to help the plant survive drought periods.

Some detail of the Clivia miniata. The leaves are smooth and the ends pointed.
A young plant which is mature enough for flowering.

The Clivia plant takes 4-5 years to mature and flower. When it has 12-14 leaves it is ready for flowering.

Leaves grow horizontally when in dappled light and grow more upright in shadier locations.

Site selection and soil:

When selecting a site, the soil should be well composted and free draining to prevent the fleshy roots from rotting, with a neutral pH.

Ideally the planting position should be in shade to dappled light. Some light is needed to flower properly.

When planted under the canopy of a tree, the Clivia will be protected as the sun goes overhead. It will also give some protection from frost in winter. Clivias do well facing east, benefitting from some natural light in early morning. As the sun moves overhead and to the west, locating the planting site under a tree or against a fence that will cast shade, will protect the delicate leaves of the Clivia from being scorched. This is particularly important if you experience extreme summer heat as we do in Sydney. As a natural under storey plant that grows in the leaf litter, replicating some of these conditions will help it to grow.

When mass planting Clivia allow a spacing of 30cm to create the space needed for the mature plant.

Clivia miniata mass planted under a Crepe Myrtle along a fence line.

Water requirements

If the Clivia is planted in humus rich soil that is free draining, watering is required when natural rainfall does not occur. This especially needed during flowering time and long dry periods of summer, though clivia can tolerate some drought.

Withhold watering during the autumn/winter period when natural rainfall may be sufficient.

If over-watered Clivia roots will rot, so err on checking the soil and then water as needed according to the environmental conditions.


The easiest way to propagate Clivia is to divide the pups from the main plant. This is best way to ensure the plant is true to type.

Propagating from seed is also a possibility though the resultant plant may not be true to the original plant and the process will take a long time. Collect the seeds when mature, about 9 months from flowering. See the link in the Reference section at the bottom of post for full details on how to do this.

Varieties of Clivia available:

Clivia caulescens:

Narrow flowers, red with green tips, and very long leaves, often reaching 1m. Flowers in spring. Attract birds to the garden.

Clivia gardenii:

 Slender tubular flowers with a green tip. Narrow leaves. Flowers from April to June.

Flowers in 4-5 years

Clivia nobilis:

Pendulous tubular flowers pinkish yellow to dark red. Leaves are upright growing to 80cm and 25-50mm in width.

Flowers August to January. Takes 7-8 years or more to flower and is longer lived than other species.

Fruit takes a year to mature and the seed is 6mm and round.

Conservation status of Clivia nobilis is vulnerable.

The beautiful plant below is currently growing in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Clivia miniata:

Flowering heads of brilliant orange trumpet-shaped flowers bloom from August to November but also sporadically at other times of the year.

It is the most widely cultivated with the flowers ranging from deep red-orange, salmon to pale yellow.

Clivia miniata flower after 4-5 years.

Below are some of the colours available for Clivia miniata.


An excellent website for further information:

The link below will take you to an extensive library of information about all aspects of the Clivia and its care and is well worth the effort of exploring.


Do explore the rest of this wonderful website.

For those interested in propagating Clivia from Seed:


One thought on “What to Plant in October

  1. Thank you very much, Anna. Our Clivia are flowering profusely this year.

    I hope all is well over there?

    Madonna Purcell fmm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s