Nerine - TOW

David Fenwick
Fri, 02 May 2003 06:47:28 PDT
Hi Hamish,
Thank you for your introduction it was nice to hear of someone elses
experiences in the UK.

I grow a small collection of Nerines here in the south-west of the United

Why do I grow them -
Well, I like the range of colours, especially the deeper colours that are
given by N. sarniensis and its hybrids; and I am interested to find out how
hardy the hybrids and species are in this part of the UK, as many have the
potential to make good garden plants for the end of the gardening year. It
is my intention to establish as many N. sarniensis varieties as possible in
the garden here.

After all that has been said about viruses recently I see no need to add to
this, all I would like to add is that it can be a problem in Nerine; and
very specifically to a few hybrids. However, nothing should put anybody off
growing at least a few Nerines for they very graceously extend our bulb
season, take up very little space and are well worth growing.

As has been said, the petals of some varieties sparkle in the sun, I have
noticed this too, and this is probably for the same reason as Crocosmia as
the segments contain cells called chromoplasts which reflect light back. It
might make it easier for pollinating insects to find them but it makes them
a good deal harder to photograph.

Re. culture, I grow all my containerised bulbs here in bulk standard compost
that I get from Walmart (ASDA), which is based on Irish Moss peat, and this
includes the culture of 'all' the containerised Nerines. All are also grown
is clay / terracotta pots, and after potting a 3/4 inch to 1 inch layer of
10mm angular flint is placed on top.

10mm angular flint allows me to water plants with a hose without damaging
the plant, and this layer also prevents dessication during the midday sun
and wind outside.

I've known for a long time that composts based on Irish Moss Peat have the
property of making a plant (especially trees) produce a more fibrous rooting
system. This is primarily why I use this compost with bulbs, as it also
allows for the production of a good fibrous root system which promotes the
growth, development and propagation of the bulb, and I have found this to
work well on growing sarniensis hybrids in pots.

The secret to growing using peat based composts here is in providing a
porous pot. Our winters and springs are comparitively cold and plastic pots
which do not allow the plant to breathe and compost can easily become
stagnent. This then leads to overwatering, and anaerobic conditions within
the pot, and a build up bacteria causing methane to be released and this is
phytotoxic and can cause serious root problems, and eventual rotting of the
basal plate. Providing a clay pot allows the plants roots to breathe far
better, and it is easier to regulate the amount of water the plant needs. If
the pot ''rings'' when you tap it, it is dry, if it ''thuds'' it is wet. I
must add that all new plants are unpotted and have their compost replaced
with my regular brand, this so I don't need to change the watering regimeme,
and it helps get rid of any pests that might be lurking in the older

Feeding, well here I have found that Miracle-Gro works for everything, and
this is applied at half strength every two weeks during and post flowering,
and two to three weeks during late winter and spring, but not during very
cold periods of weather, eg. when conditions are below 7C.

I grow all my N. sarniensis under glass in a cold east facing lean-to
greenhouse where the temperatures regularly fall to between -2 and -4C each
year. However care is taken not to water before cold spells of weather.
Other less hardy species are also grown this way, however I treat the
species differently for these are only put inside the greenhouse to protect
them from the extremes of our winter here, and thus around late January /
early February, they are under cover, and late February they go back out
into the garden. If kept inside for longer, dormancy is often broken and the
foliage becomes soft and is more prone to both pests and diseases and wind
damage. Using this practise bulbs are usually hardy enough to stand any late

Some clay containers of species can be left outside, near to the house
during the winter, species like this include N. krigei, N. humilis and N.
flexuosa. Providing the winter isn't too wet, they are quite happy.

Hybrids I grow in containers include:
 Nerine 'Adams 25', 'Autumn Glory', 'Claribel', 'Mertoun', 'Baghdad', 'Druid
', 'Fucine', 'Hertha Berg', 'McEldery Red', x.  'Miss Cator', 'Oberon'
(bowdenii 'Manina x sarniensis corusca), 'Purple Prince', 'Quest', 'Rushmere
Star', 'Somerhill', and x mansellii.

Those that I grow in the garden include a number of species, bowdenii and
hybrids of it, and some hybrids between bowdenii and sarniensis.

Outside in my raised gravel bed I grow N. krigei, N. laticoma and N.
undulata, and these are planted at a depth of four inches in a mix of 10mm
flint, sterilised loam and ''free draining'' sand. This mixtures makes up a
four inch layer in the bed. Below this layer is a three feet layer of gravel
and sand, and above this is a two inch layer of flint. It allows perfect
drainage, and increases hardiness.

I grow all the species Rhoda mentions in her mail, thank's for the comments
Rhoda, very interesting reading and how you found the time to do it, heaven
knows. I also grow N. hesseoides, which I have found can be grow in a
container in a similar manner to what has been described, but likes slightly
drier conditions; and also forbesii and falcata.

The way in which I grow them proves that Nerines, both species and hybrids
means that they are not as difficult as I first thought, and even after five
years of culture in this manner I have certainly seen no reduction in the
amount of flowers that are produced.

Here I must thank Den and Rhoda for their previous help and support they
have given me with Nerine, they are list members here. Detailed findings,
especially those relating to cultivation and hardiness are reported to Dr.
Marion Wood, an IBS member and member of the Amaryllis and Nerine Society,
who lives quite close to me, Marion specialises in this genus, and she has
been very interested in the results of my compost culture.

On growing N. bowdenii and its hybrids, I grow many hybrid with provenance.
I must admit my reported relationship to Mark Fenwick is more distant than
Hamish lead people to believe, but my surname is quite an unusual one, and
he must come off one branch of the tree so to speak. In cultivation though
the hybrid 'Mark Fenwick' is reported to be rarer than first though and has
been superseeded by other larger bowdenii forms. It's rather like the
Kniphofia thomsonii var. snowdenii senario where most K. thomsonii var.
snowdenii sold is often K. thomsonii (triploid form), the true K. thomsonii
var. snowdenii having a pubescent perianth.

Those I grow successfully in the garden here include;

Nerine bowdenii
Nerine bowdenii (Christmas flowering hybrid)
Nerine bowdenii var. wellsii
Nerine bowdenii alba
Nerine bowdenii 'E.B. Anderson'
Nerine bowdenii 'Marnie Rogerson'
Nerine bowdenii 'Mark Fenwick'
Nerine bowdenii 'Mollie Cowie' (variegated)
Nerine bowdenii 'Porlock'
Nerine bowdenii 'Splendens'
Nerine 'Zeal Salmon'
Nerine humilis
Nerine krigei
Nerine laticoma
Nerine undulata

Nerines here are planted 4 inches deep, that is from their top to the soil
level. This makes sure that they are just below the level which a hard frost
can penetrate. Soil is a standard loam, with added gravel and organic

Best Wishes,
Dave (Plymouth, UK)


David Fenwick
NCCPG National Collection of Crocosmia with Chasmanthe and Tulbaghia
The African Garden
96 Wasdale Gardens

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (
Version: 6.0.474 / Virus Database: 272 - Release Date: 18/04/03

More information about the pbs mailing list