Nerine is a genus of 24 species in the family Amaryllidaceae 20 of which are endemic to the geographic areas of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. The other 4 occur throughout southern Africa. Only 4 species are winter growing and 20 are summer growing, a subset of which are evergreen. In cultivation, Nerine has been widely hybridized. See Nerine Hybrids for photos of hybrids.
Information and photographs illustrating Nerine species H-M can be found on this page.
Nerine humilis is a winter rainfall species found in mountainous fynbos areas along the Western Cape Province extending all the way to the southwestern part of the Eastern Cape. It is a dwarf species with spikes of delicate rose-pink flowers, with narrow wavy perianth petals. Flowers appear in mid-late autumn. Flowering increases strongly after fire but is not dependent on it. The species is considered polymorphic with a wide range of flower and plant sizes. Plants can often be found in large colonies of thousands of bulbs. Of all the winter growing Nerine, this species is the easiest in cultivation. In Mediterranean climates with moderate rain and well drained soils, this species can be grown in the ground. Elsewhere it is best to grow them in pots. They multiply readily and flowers are partially self-fertile. Plant the bulbs with half of their necks exposed. Divide the bulbs in early autumn right before growth commences. It takes 3-4 years to flower from seeds, depending on a dwarf or larger form, respectively (Duncan 2009). Photo 1 was taken by Bill Dijk and photo 2 was taken by Michael Mace. Photos 3-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen at the UC Botanical Garden. Photo 3 shows the Nerine in front of the cycad Encephalartos horridus, another South African native.
Photos below were taken by Cameron McMaster. The first is of a garden plant grown from seed collected near Napier, W. Cape and the second is a small form blooming in mass in situ. The third through fifth pictures were taken near Napier in the Overberg and show buds, foliage, and a rare white form.
Nerine huttoniae is a summer growing species from the western part of the East Cape Province of South Africa where it occurs in colonies near riverbanks or in seasonally damp depressions. Major populations occur in the Fish River Valley Basin on seasonally wet flat Karoo plains. The clay/loam soil is sometimes stony. Frost occurs in the dry winters. The majority of rainfall falls in summer, mostly in the form of sharp thunderstorms at irregular intervals. Best flowering happens after heavy rains in late summer (January-February). Summers are very hot. The areas where they grow are fairly heavily grazed by sheep and goats, but while the animals trample the plants and cause erosion, they do not eat the leaves or flowers. Flowers are irregular, short lived and light to deep rose pink formed in a spherical many-flowered umbel. Leaves are strap-shaped and shiny, dark green. The bulbs are large and deep seated and go dormant in the winter. Seeds set rapidly and germination occurs soon after the seeds have dropped. Much of this information courtesy of Cameron McMaster from an article in Veld & Flora.
This incredible bulb is not hard to grow and bloom if its needs are understood. It requires a dry winter rest and will tolerate some cold as frosts do occur in its habitat. Pot up this bulb with its neck at soil level in a sharply drained potting medium (at least 70% horticultural pumice or similar) in a large deep pot. Deep plastic 'tree' or 'citrus' pots serve well but a deep terracotta pot would be ideal. Occasional water can be given in late spring to wake up the bulbs from dormancy. In late summer it should be watered heavily and allowed to dry out only slightly between waterings. Full sun and hot temperatures (above 92 °F/33.5 °C) are necessary in summer for the formation the coming year's flower buds. Jacob Uluwehi Knecht has found that this species grows very fast from seed in Honolulu in sharply draining medium and seedlings up to 4 years of age tolerate very high rainfall. Well-established mature bulbs send up flowers between August and September in the Northern Hemisphere. This species is notorious for taking a long time to bloom from seeds. Mark Mazer reports that his 6 year old bulb has not bloomed. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster and Mary Sue Ittner near Cradock, Eastern Cape. In the last picture we came upon one growing in a ditch where it would have gotten extra water. This area had been suffering from a drought so we only found one in bloom in an area where most years they bloom in much better numbers.
Nerine krigei is a summer growing species native to Zimbabwe, northeastern Free State, and Gauteng Provinces of South Africa. In Gauteng, it grows in damp depressions in grassland. This species has broad, erect, spirally twisted leaves and peduncles that reach 60 cm tall. The first photo by Cameron McMaster of a garden species and the second photo from Alessandro Marinello. The last two photos were taken by Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows the spirally twisted leaves.
Nerine laticoma is a summer growing species with a wide range from the N. Cape, western Transvaal, Free State, Namibia and Botswana. It is a deciduous summer growing, winter dormant species. The leaves are prostrate with flowers that range from pink to white, born on 15-30 cm inflorescences. The first photograph below was taken by Jim Shields in 2010 of Nerine laticoma received from Welland Cowley's Cape Flora nursery in 2000. This was the first bloom on any of this batch of bulbs. Photos 2-3 were taken by Hans Joschko.
Nerine marincowitzii is a summer growing species native to the Karoo. The scentless flowers start out pink and age to brown. The plant is hysteranthous and blooms in the autumn. Dried scapes break off and tumble in the wind like Brunsvigia and Boophone. It goes dormant in the winter.
Nerine masoniorum is an endangered, summer growing species that occurs near Umtata, East Cape Province, South Africa. It is a dwarf, evergreen species with pale pink flowers. The leaves are grass-like and grow to 25 cm long. Bulbs multiply profusely. Photo 1 was taken by Cameron McMaster, photo 2 was taken by Lyn Edwards, photo 3 was taken in September 2003 by Lee Poulsen, photos 4-5 were taken by Mary Sue Ittner shows the thread-like evergreen leaves and the fruits, and photo 6 was taken by Nhu Nguyen.