Nerine Is A Bulb That Will Easily Fool You Into Thinking It's Dead

Nerine, a South African native, apparently got its common name of Guernsey Lily because a plant washed up on the island of Guernsey (in the English Channel). Now you can believe this or not – it does make a good story – but the fact is that this member of the Amaryllis family is a South African native plant.

As you can see in the picture, the flower is trumpet-shaped with the petals curling backward. What you may have trouble seeing is that each flower will bloom on a stem that has no leaves (unlike a lot of bulbs that have leaves on their stem). On a practical note, this means deadheading later in the summer is simply cutting back the stem to ground level.



Nerine - a very late bloomer

Nerine is a very late blooming bulb and it could almost be put into the fall blooming area depending on where you are growing it.

What happens (just so you are not surprised) is that the leaves come up in the spring and grow all summer. Then they wither away (this is where you might think the plant has died). After this – the flowering stem is produced. In some areas, it is produced in late September.

While N. bowdenii (pictured) is the plant most often sold in garden centers (some 90% of the market) the differences between it and the second most popular variety - N. sarniensis are important.

N. bowdenii flowers after the foliage is done while N. sarniensis flowers first and then the foliage comes. You’ll know which is which by this simple fact.

Book cover spring bulbs

Not reliably hardy for the north

Our problem in the north is that this bulb is not going to be reliably hardy – it flowers so late (frost warnings). If it is not hardy for you, dig in the fall after the bloom has faded to store dry and cool for the winter. Replant in the spring after all danger of frost.

Colour: white, orange, pink (main colour), red
Flowering time: September - October
Average height: 35 - 90 cm (20-30”)
Planting depth to base of bulb: neck just above the soil
Spacing: 20 cm or 7 inches apart
Light exposure full sun or morning sun but sheltered from wind

Nerine makes an excellent cut flower as well as a container-grown plant in mixed baskets.

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