Nerines In The Fall Garden

Nerines In The Fall Garden – Nerines are usually considered to be too tender to grow outdoors, but there is one hardy species which can be relied upon to display its eye-catching flowers in the fall garden. It is the most important nerine in ornamental horticulture, highly valued for its cold tolerance, suitability as a container subject and massed bedding plant, and for its long-lasting cut flowers. The perfect annual bulb to add color when the rest of the garden is winding down, nerine produces frilly pink flower clusters.


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Nerines appear in the fall – clusters of long-lasting blooms at the top of a leafless stalk. Strap-shaped leaves appear in late summer, grow during winter and spring and then die down in summer.

There are several South African native species of this bulb, a close relative of the Crinum Lily and the Amaryllis. In Europe, this one is sometimes called Jersey Lily, since it is associated with the famous English actress Lily Langtry.

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Most nerines are tender greenhouse bulbs, but Nerine bowdenii is the nearest to being hardy, and well worth planting outdoors in a warm sunny border backed by the shelter of a wall. Nerines work well in a mixed herbaceous border and make an excellent cut flower. Protect the crowns with peat or bracken in winter.

Varieties: Nerine bowdenii is the species to grow. The flowers measure about 3 in. across – long, spidery petals which are twisted and reflexed. The color is deep pink – grow ‘Pink Triumph’ for silvery pink blooms. Plant the bulbs in a sheltered spot, preferably close to a south-facing wall.

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Site and soil: Well-drained soil and full sun are essential. Not much fertilizer. (Don’t forget that South African bulbs are usually used to gritty, fast-draining soils).

Propagation: Divide overcrowded clumps in spring – replant at once.

Plant details: Planting time is April-May. Planting depth is 4 in, spacing 6 in, and height 2 ft. Flowering period is September-October.

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