Nerine bowdenii - How to overwinter?

John Grimshaw
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 22:59:12 PDT
I am astonished by Rodger Whitlock's assertion that Nerine bowdenii is a
winter-growing plant. This is entirely contradictory to experience here in
the UK, or in its wild habitat, where in both cases it is emphatically
summer-growing. It is this fact that makes it a (very) hardy plant in this
country, being dormant in winter and thus able to tolerate both the damp and
cold. Here it comes into growth as the spring warms up, is in full leaf all
summer (slightly dependent on soil moisture) and is just coming into flower,
with some active leaf remnants. Contrary to the popular myth ('plant under a
warm wall'), it has been demonstrated that it does not like summer heat, and
does best in sunny well-drained conditions in the open border.

So what it does in Victoria is a mystery to me, but in my experience the
advice given would be an excellent way not to grow it. In Maine I think one
would need to grow it in a pot as a summer active plant, keeping it cool,
dry and dormant in winter. Freezing in a pot would be promptly fatal - which
reminds me to get my recently moved pot-fulls into the ground!

John Grimshaw

Visit John Grimshaw's Garden Diary

Dr John  M. Grimshaw
1 Kirkhill Farm
North Yorkshire
YO17 8NT

Tel. 01944 768494


From Rodger Whitlock:

Nerine bowdenii is a common plant in gardens here in Victoria, BC. The
climate seems to agree with it, so presumably the more closely you can
emulate Victoria's climate, the greater the likelihood of success.

Note that it is a winter-growing plant. 

Try this:

1. During summer dormancy, bone dry, no water at all, warmish soil, but
don't bake the pot in full sun like a Central Asian tulip. Put it in a
shaded place.

2. Start watering in early September. As the foliage (and, hopefully,
flowers) develop, give more water. This is also a good time to feed the
plant. A dilute liquid fertilizer rather low in nitrogen would do the trick,
applied every two weeks, say.

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