One of my ‘first-bloom’ Nerine seedlings! Few things bloom at this time of year that are as exotic !
Gardeners in Zone 8 are fortunate to be able to grow one type of hardy Nerine - Nerine bowdenii. This bulb is offered for sale at every garden centre in the springtime. It will bloom in the autumn, with bright pink flowers on tall stems. I began hybridizing this species with less hardy Nerines in my collection. I and am now seeing the flowers . It has been four or more years and it is very exciting!!!!!
There are lots of new, softer colours, wider petals, shorter stems and hopefully hardier plants (??) ….. I will test some this winter. I have many dozen , and am starting to sell them at the nursery. They are in 5″ clay pots, each with several bulbs (of the same plant), and are $19.99 each. Some nursery visitors have left their phone numbers over the years, hoping I would one day have some special Nerines to sell….. the time has come !
Ideally, these Nerines need a cool-but-heated greenhouse in our climate. Partially to keep them out of the endless rain of the Pacific Northwest, and also to keep them out of frost while they are in active growth and bloom. They are originally from South Africa and we must remember that. I place them outside in March, by which time they are dying down. They leafless (by then) bulbs need their ‘summer bake’ - they can be dry all summer, in the sun. Occasional rains keep them plump. I sprinkle one scattering of 14-14-14 slow-release fertilizer on the surface of the pots once a year , around this time. I don’t know if this is the best time to do this…. but my plants do seem happy. In late autumn the show begins ! The flowering is in October, like clockwork. I have learned that they prefer to be very crowded in their pots, and splitting bulbs up or dividing them causes them to skip flowering for a year. So, don’t re-pot unless you have to .