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.
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.
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.
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.