Nerine sarniensis and its varieties and hybrids

Jim McKenney
Wed, 05 Oct 2005 16:50:03 PDT
I think the light bulb may have gone on this week with respect to Nerine

Thank Mary Sue: her recent post which mentioned her success with the rescue
Nerine really got me thinking. 

Jim Shields and I (and presumably everyone else in similar climates) have no
luck to brag about with these. Arnold's reported success at first seems
anomalous, but his plants were inside for the summer, weren't they? 

Yet Mary Sue and various UK growers have no trouble getting them to flower. 

Doesn't Nerine sarniensis flower in nature in the spring? Doesn't its
foliage grow during the spring and summer of its native habitat? 

I'm beginning to wonder if the mistake we make with this plant is to focus
on the dry summer business. Maybe we should be looking at the other end of
the growth cycle: the winter in its native habitat. 

I'll bet it's dry and cool. And if so, that's where we make our mistake:
I've been keeping mine dry and hot. I'll bet they need a cool, dry period to
trigger bloom. 

When I first joined this list, Mary Sue had some photos posted of summer
kite flyers in her locality. It was a beautiful photo, with blue skies, the
hills sere and brown and the kite flyers IN JACKETS!

Western European growers are unlikely to experience the high day time
temperatures we do, and in any case they probably do experience significant
nighttime drops in temperature.  

No one in their right mind usually has any reason to put on a jacket in this
area anytime between June and early September. Those of you who have never
experienced an east coast summer have no idea of what it is like. It's humid
24/7 and the temperature does not drop much at night until well into

Nerine sarniensis is one of those plants which has not adapted to the
northern hemisphere cycle: it continues to stick to the southern hemisphere
cycle. It's hard for me to focus on this, just having come through another
east coast summer, but it's now spring in South Africa, isn't it? The Nerine
there have just come through the winter there, such as it is, haven't they?
They have just come through a relatively cool period, right?

This need for a cool period may also explain the curious behavior of Nerine
bowdenii in our climate - it blooms late in the season, if at all. In other
words, it blooms after it gets a cold period. 

Nerine must have a chilling requirement, a low one perhaps, but nevertheless
a chilling requirement to initiate inflorescence growth. 

Next year I may try putting my dormant Nerine sarniensis in the refrigerator
for the summer where they will be dry and cool for several months. 

Any comments, anyone? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, so far not Nerine country,
but some new Nerine 'Corusca Major' are about to bloom (thank you,


More information about the pbs mailing list