Every autumn, I look forward to the flowering of my Nerines. These bulbs are originally from South Africa, and they don’t seem to realize that their ‘Spring’ is our ‘Fall’ . Oh well.
I grow all of them in pots . They love being crowded in clay pots and allowed to bake in the sun all summer. I water them only rarely, if at all. Cool nights in September initiate flower stalks, and the show begins.
The easiest Nerine to acquire is the fairly winter hardy pink Nerine, N. bowdenii. In the Vancouver area, you can plant it and not worry about hardiness. It increases rapidly in a sunny spot. Good nurseries offer a pure white form (as a bulb) in the springtime. Even better nurseries also offer a dark vermillion red Nerine at that time also. Try to find these three basic Nerines, and start hybridizing them. I have been doing this for about ten years now, and am getting gorgeous new (to me) colours in my seedlings. Hybridizing is super easy. You just pull off a stamen (the dusty yellow pollen is on the end of each one) and dabble some of the pollen on the central stem of the flower, the pistil. There is only one pistil so you can’t go wrong. It has a sticky, glistening surface. Soon, little green seeds will form behing the withered flower. Interestingly, these seeds are not inside a fruit or seed pod. They are just ripening like little grapes. When they look ripe (green, but the original flower stem is now yellow and looking dead), pick the seeds and plant them in a small pot or tray and don’t bury them. They sprout right away in a bright window or greenhouse. Grow them on like any plant….but bring inside each autumn so they don’t freeze. In about four years they bloom and you will be amazed at the variety and differences you get in each seedling. I sprinkle some slow-release 14-14-14 fertilizer pellets on the top of each pot when the leafy growth starts (around April) and let nature take care of them outside in a sunny place. The last photo, in the second row across, is of seedlings that are three years old. This coming summer they will start to grow faster and produce their first flower stalks in a year or two from now. Worth the wait for sure !