Nerine culture; was RE: What promotes blooming?

Jim McKenney
Sun, 14 Oct 2007 15:55:56 PDT
Thanks, Fierycloud, for providing those links. The abstracts in the links
have answered at least one question for me, and have given me reason to be
very curious about the performance of my Nerine this year. 

One of the abstracts points out the flower bud initiation in Nerine starts
the growing season before bloom. That explains why newly purchased bulbs of
Nerine sometimes bloom: the flower bud was there when the bulb was bought.
I'll bet this also accounts for most of the sporadic bloom of Amaryllis
belladonna recorded in eastern North America.

With respect to the culture of Nerine bowdenii, I wonder how many of you
have read Ian Young's account of the performance of Nerine bowdenii in the
gardens of Aberdeen, Scotland. Evidently it sometimes gets just as cold in
Aberdeen in the winter as it does here in Maryland. Yet Young tells us that
thousands of Nerine bowdenii bloom annually in gardens (not in greenhouses
or alpine houses, in the open garden) in Aberdeen. That should tell us
something about the requirements of that plant. 

Last year, after reading Young's account, I left a pot of Nerine bowdenii in
a cold frame (remember, cold frame means unheated) for the winter. The
plastic pot had so many bulbs that the side had split. The pot stood on the
dirt floor of the frame: it was not sunk into the ground or in any way
protected. This cold frame is cold: it gets little sun during the winter.
The plants came through the winter without any signs of distress. 

Will they bloom this year or will it take another cold cycle to induce
bloom? At least I now know that they are a lot hardier to cold than I had
suspected. I had tried this species in the open ground in the past, but they
eventually disappeared without blooming. 

In another cold frame, this one better sited with respect to sun exposure
(i.e. it gets lots of sun during the winter) there are three selections of
Nerine sarniensis. These grew vigorously and came through the winter with
absolutely no sign of foliage damage. They got water for the first time
since late May last week. After the watering, the bulbs plumped up quickly.
Again, will they bloom this year or will it take another cold cycle to
induce bloom? So far, there is little sign of growth in response to the
watering, but that was only last week. In this same frame there is a bulb of
Amaryllis belladonna which is hard as a rock. 

I'll keep you posted on what if anything happens during the next month or

Matt Mattus in a posting to Alpine-L today mentioned that his Nerine
(greenhouse grown) are starting to bloom in the Boston area. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where overnight temperatures
in the 40s F are predicted for tonight.
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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