Nerine thoughts from Michael Homick

Diane Whitehead
Mon, 23 Aug 2010 21:49:44 PDT
There has been some chat on the PBS site about Nerines. I am at the  
moment somewhat removed from access to the site but felt I may be able  
to contribute for a change to the exchange rather than being a lurker.

             Paul and I were rather fortunate in 2007 to acquire an  
extensive Nerine sarniensis hybrid collection from Mr. Charles Hardman.

History of the collection:
  In 1952 Mrs Emma D. Menninger from Southern California and her  
husband ordered 1 of every variety of the Exbury Collection from the  
Rothschild Estate. This probably brought one of the premier Nerine  
sarniensis collections to the USA. Mrs. Menninger was involved with  
taking these plants and hybridizing, particularly nice whites. She  
called her “new” hybrids the Green Oaks collection.

             I believe in the 1960’s, the Menningers were involved in  
an automobile accident that had a devastating effect on their ability  
to garden. Mr. Charles Hardman volunteered to transplant their  
extensive Nerine collection and was given 1 specimen of all the  
varieties that had multiple bulbs available. It took a number of weeks  
for Charles to transplant the collection.

             Charles continued with hybridizing the Exbury and Green  
Oaks and his varieties were grown under the name of the Holly Oaks  
Collection. Charles also obtained plant material from Sir Peter  
Smithers , Russell Grant, Harrison and others.

             During this time period, from literature I have read the  
original Exbury Nerines (UK) were placed in the capable hands of Sir  
Peter Smithers, who hybridized the Exbury collection on. Sir Peter was  
very specific and selective on the plant material and I am not sure  
how much of the original Exbury material was retained. When Sir Peter  
was unable to continue with the Nerine collection, it was returned to  
the Rothschild Estate, where it resides today.

What we are growing
             We are growing a vast number 2000+ flowering sized bulbs  
of various known numbered crosses of mostly sarniensis. (Both parents  
known). We also have a large number (300+) of named hybrids. The named  
varieties we are growing has been attached asgrowlist.doc. We also  
have a number of Nerine species growing.

             We have been trying to obtain a register of Nerine  
hybrids or at least a check list to verify the validity of these  
cultivars. Some names are traceable to articles written by Mrs.  
Menninger and Charles Hardman in Plant Life and other publications. We  
would like to only release “named” varieties if they have been  
registered or after  we have registered them appropriately ourselves.  
I have also tried unsuccessfully to obtain a copy of the registration  
form in order to take appropriate measurements and color gradients for  
future registration.  If anyone has contacts or availabily of this  
information , Please, Please get in touch with me.
             A thorough inventory and photographic listing will be  
done on the collection during the flowering season. Bulbs should be  
available late spring as the growing season finishes. Email me  
privately if interested.

Growing Conditions:
             For those who are interested in our growing condition, we  
are located in Central California. The climate has desert influence.  
The summer temperatures are near 95F (32C) with plenty of sun and dry  
atmosphere. The evening temperature do drop to around 68F (20C).  
Winter growing conditions range from 66-80 F (19-27C) with sunny dry  
conditions. Winter night temperatures can drop to freezing, but mostly  
around 40F (5C).  We have access to 4 gallon (15 L) plastic pails (11”  
x 11” x 14”) (24cm x 24cm x 30cm)  and plant 4-6 bulbs in each pail.  
The mix utilized is a gravelly quick draining medium. A typical mix by  
volume would be compost:1, shredded pine needles:1, charcoal:1, peat  
moss:1, birds eye gravel:2. The bulbs are planted with the shoulder  
and necks exposed. We water regularly during the growing season and  
sparingly during the dormant phase. Our bulbs do not shrink in size  
during their dormancy, or at least so we have not noticed. When we  
water during the resting phase it is just a very quick spray over the  
tops of the pots. I believe that the utilization of a deep pot is  
beneficial. The roots can grow deep into the pot and although the top  
of the pot around the bulbs may be very dry the roots still may have  
available moisture for uptake to the bulb. We dug a few bulbs a week  
or two ago and they were already initiating new root growth for the  
season. Even though the bulbs seem not to show any shrinkage watering  
from now until the initiation of flowering will result in noticeable  
swelling of the bulb resulting in the bulbs splitting their tunics.  
All our bulbs are grown under 70% shade cloth in their pails on  
pallets raised on cinder blocks. During the coldest time of the year,  
we will place a frost cover over the plants which protects for an  
additional 2-3F. We had no frost damage to the plants last year with  
excellent growth throughout the winter period.

             From the literature I have read, Nerines have 3 flowering  
seasons of bulbs “imprinted” in the bulb. Perhaps this can result in  
sporadic flowering of bulbs if conditions are not ideal for multiple  
consecutive years. We transplant our bulbs during the dormant stage,  
but last year we were finishing up the last of our acquired bulbs  
right into when the plants were sending up flower spikes with no  
noticeable effect on the growing season.

             Questions are freely accepted. I am currently where I  
only have internet access once or twice a week, but Paul has regular  
access. We can be contacted at:
michaelhomick @ and farmerguys08 @


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