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Nerine - Growing Guide

Growing Nerine

Nothing brightens up the garden more than nerine as the days grow shorter and the drabness of autumn sets in. For this reason we usually include a few clumps of bulbs in any garden design, large or small. At Caerhays there is a large nerine bed planted originally for the commercial sale of nerine as cut flowers but now as the source of the bulbs which we offer.

Nerine bowdenii is a robust and fully hardy bulb originating in South Africa. It has broad strap shaped green leaves of a foot or more long which appear in spring and die away again by the autumn when the pink flower heads appear in groups of seven or more at the top of the flowering stalk. The lily-like flowers are funnel shaped with crinkly edges and faintly scented. The flower heads are up to 3in across and the flowering stalk stands 15-18in proud from the ground.

Nerine require a good backing in summer for the best flowering results. A hot dry bank in full sun or below a hot reflective wall is ideal. The bulbs flower best when they have developed into tight clumps of bulbs (like agapanthus) that seem to be rising up out of the ground in a mound.

If they do this clumps can be lifted after flowering or in early spring so that the offsets or side bulbs can be removed for transplanting elsewhere while the main bulbs are replanted back in place.

N. bowedenii has light pink flowers while N. bowdenii ‘Pink Triumph’ has a darker pink display. We sometimes have available a white form of N. bowdenii which is slightly flushed pink.

Other species and cultivated forms of nerine have a range of different colours and larger flowers. These are much more tender greenhouse plants for connoisseurs.

Nerine are most easily left to multiply quietly themselves but they can also readily be propagated from seed collected when ripe in late autumn and sown straight away in the greenhouse.

In the garden, to create your autumn flowering surprise, grow nerine alongside Amaryllis belladonna and Crinum powellii. 

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