Nerine sarniensis and its varieties and hybrids

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 05 Oct 2005 19:04:10 PDT
Hi Jim,

I don't know whether you were a member of this list when I reported on the 
IBSA symposium and my last trip to South Africa. In one of my posts I wrote 
"In one of the IBSA bulb chats Alan Horstmann wrote that the consensus of 
the IBSA members at one of their meetings was that to get Nerine sarniensis 
to bloom reliably it needs to have a totally dry dormancy. This goes 
against what many of us have discovered. In fact as we have discussed on 
this list watering in summer on  a regular basis has meant that a lot of 
people who weren't getting blooms now are. Hamish in his excellent topic of 
the week introduction on Nerine spoke of needing to keep the perennial 
roots from drying out.

We visited with Mary Stobie, an IBSA member from Greyton. She told us this 
species grows high in her mountains where there are often mists in summer. 
Plants are growing in the rocks and probably only get sun for a few hours 
every day. They seem to be in very little soil, but she speculated the 
mists and the rocks probably keep the roots cool and prevent the plants 
from drying out. This would be quite different conditions than a bulb in a 
plastic pot would get for those of us who live in warm dry climates. She 
introduced me to a lady who had a large patch in her garden growing under 
the shade of an oak tree with Veltheimia bracteata. This area gets regular 
summer water, but no doubt the oak roots absorb a lot of it. Every year in 
the fall she has quite a show. Her plants are reseeding and increasing so 
every year it only gets better."

This is a plant with winter rainfall and dry summers. It is dormant in 
summer. There are a number of evergreen Nerines and some that are in growth 
in summer which no doubt would work much better in your climate Jim. That 
is what Jim Shields has discovered. In my climate Nerine sarniensis hybrids 
began to get diseased in winter when I left them out exposed to our 
rainfall (50-60 inches between November and May, but heaviest December, 
January, February.) So even though my plants are in growth during the rainy 
season, they have looked a whole lot better since I moved them to my cool 
greenhouse during our rainy season and kept the rain off their leaves.

Jim's post made me smile. Mark Twain is reported to have said that the 
coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco. Where I live on 
California's north coast it's rare for people to sit outside in the 
evenings. You'd need to build a fire to keep warm which of course wouldn't 
be wise as fire danger is great during our long summer drought. The day we 
took the  pictures of kites in July it really was cool. It's not unusual to 
have foggy overcast days in our summers or wind which can feel cold close 
to the ocean.

Temperatures sometimes heat up a bit in the fall as Merrill in his post 
pointed out. But even then, most of the time it cools off in the evening. I 
found when I moved my Nerine under the shade of my redwoods in summer that 
it was too cool for them. Only a few bloomed in fall when they broke 
dormancy. They are much happier in the greenhouse which can heat up in 
summer during the daytime, but is cool in the evening. So perhaps what you 
need to do Jim is to bring them in the refrigerator at night and leave them 
out during the day in one of your shadier spots and be sure they are 
watered enough that those roots don't dry out.

Mary Sue

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