Nerine bowdenii - How to overwinter?

Rodger Whitlock
Tue, 02 Oct 2012 18:21:19 PDT
On 2 Oct 2012, at 15:42, J. Denys Bourque wrote:

> Dear Fellow Horticulturists,
> This spring I purchased a half dozen bulbs of Nerine bowdenii, and am very happy
> with them. I have them in a pot on my back porch.
> I read they are hardy, but haven't found any other details on their hardiness.
> We are here in USA Zone 4 = Canadian Zone 3A, just across the border from
> Madawaska, Maine.
> Should I unearth them, let them dry, then store them in dry peat moss in my cool
> cellar? Should I simply bring in the pot and position it in my living room at
> about 20-22 C?
> I'll be grateful for any advice.

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.

3. Keep in a frost free, well lit place during the winter, with temperature 
around 5C (41F). During the winter it's a fairly safe bet that the temperature 
in Victoria, at any time, is 5-6C or abt 42F. There are of course deviations, 
but most of the time that's the temperature.

4. Give the plants increasingly more warmth starting around the middle of 
March. When your weather warms up, put it back outside, preferably in full sun, 
but with the pot shaded to keep the soil from overheating and pushing the bulbs 
into premature dormancy.

5. Keep soil moist during winter and spring, then withhold when foliage begins 
to die back.

There may be other ways to handle nerine in a cold winter climate like 
Quebec's. Look into methods for successfully growing freesias in your climate. 
You might be able to get the natural dormancy cycle out of sync with the seaons 
so you have winter dormancy (dry, warmish) and summer flowering and growth.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Z. 7-8, cool Mediterranean climate

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