TOW Nerine Part 1

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 30 Apr 2003 12:34:44 PDT
Dear All,

There doesn't seem to be much discussion about our topic of the week this 
week so in my role as coordinator I'm going to start asking questions and 
hope that some of you will respond. I know when I go to the trouble of 
preparing an introduction, I always hope someone will respond and I'd think 
others would feel the same way. I know you must all get very tired of 
seeing my name flash across the screen and you can prevent this by speaking up.

First off can we establish the hardiness of the different species. On the 
wiki page Bill suggested only N. bowdenii was hardy and so did Hamish and 
that others needed to be grown under glass as frost was not good for the 
leaves. Many of the species are from the Eastern Cape and I'd think some of 
them might be hardy. And what about the ones dormant in the winter?

I was curious to read in Graham Duncan's Grow Nerines that many of the 
species that are considered evergreen are dormant during the winter in 
habitat in these dry winter areas. Would that mean that they could be left 
dormant in the winter and therefore be protected from frost? I had 
understood if you let them grow dry that they would be slow to recover.

We get frost where I live (not heavy frost) and the ones I grow haven't 
seemed to have been troubled by it but I don't always get reliable blooms. 
Can we have any reports from anyone who has found some of these can stand 
colder temperatures? I'm Zone 9. Now I am wondering if my flowering would 
improve if they were kept warmer in winter so hope the rest of you will 
share your experiences. How about all of you who live in Canberra who 
obviously are successful from your pictures. Do you keep yours warm in winter?

Since I have become interested in Nerines there have been several areas 
there is disagreement about.

One is fertilization. Sir Peter Smithers was a strong proponent that 
fertilization of the hybrids would lead to virus as he was sure that 
happened to him. I have never been able to understand that exactly unless 
there was a latent virus and over fertilization was a stress that brought 
it out. Since then others have suggested that they won't bloom without 
fertilizing and Hamish has told us he fertilizes every time he waters. How 
about the rest of you who have success? How much do you fertilize?

The second area of contention is how to treat them in dormancy. Bill is 
saying to keep them completely dry and so does Graham Duncan. But Andrew 
Wilson and Lee Poulsen have found that regular water in summer when they 
are dormant has meant better flowering and in Hamish's introduction he 
talks of a sprinkle now and then.

Another difference is whether they need their necks exposed or can be 
planted more deeply. There was a grower in Tasmania on the IBS list a 
number of year ago who had found in his climate planting them more deeply 
was better. I was also interested in size of the pot. Hamish has deeper 
pots than recommended by some and I have potted some of mine more deeply 
when there just didn't seem to be room for the roots. I know crowding is 
recommended but I just seem to have better results when roots don't start 
moving upwards when there is no longer room to go down. So depth of 
container is another area I am interested in.

O.K. on this next one perhaps I should tread softly. I was fascinated with 
Hamish's mix. But he is controlling the water by growing under cover and I 
am sure that makes a difference. You rarely hear of people using 
vermiculite in their mixes. With all the winter rain I get I'd be afraid of 
using it. And supergel too? Harold told us to plant in cactus mix and both 
Bill and Hamish have a much richer mix. So here may be another clue for me. 
These mixes may not dry out as fast and therefore may survive a dry 
dormancy better. Leaner might need more water during dormancy.

Many of these bloom better after fire. Terry Hatch in New Zealand told us 
he torches the leaves of his hybrids after they have died back. Anyone else 
experiment with fire to get blooms?

Where I live I have no luck with Nerine bowdenii in the ground. But then I 
have decomposed sandstone for soil. It would seem to dry out too much in 
summer and also have very little nutrients. A friend who lives not too far 
away brags about hers each year. I have suggested that perhaps hers get 
more water than mine, but she also has clay soil and so probably retains 
moisture and has more nutrients than mine.

So far the only two that have been blooming lately most years in the ground 
for me are N. pudica (which is from the winter rainfall area) and a cross 
given to me by Jim Robinett called Nerine flexuosa x N. undulata. That one 
blooms in a shady area no less in the ground and in a container I leave 
year round in the greenhouse. I have a couple of other species in 
containers that either haven't yet bloomed or don't usually bloom. N. 
masoniorum has bloomed more reliably now that it is in a deeper pot and I 
am paying more attention to fertilizing it. Last year I was dazzled by the 
hybrids from the Zinkowski rescue and I hope that I can keep them going. 
Maybe they should spend the winter in the greenhouse where they can be 
protected from the excessive rains.

Please someone else share your experiences! And Hamish I am interested in 
what you have to say about the species too.

Mary Sue

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