by Adam Pasco

I don't want to be accused of neglect, but nerine really does like to be left undisturbed in the same pot for many years to get really pot bound...

Nerine flowerSo many of my favourite plants come from South Africa, a place that certainly feeds my appetite for bulbs. Moving on from the summer delights of agapanthus, gladioli, eucomis, galtonia, crocosmia and a host of others, I enter autumn with pots of nerine in full, glorious flower in my garden.

One nerine been doing its thing in the same pot for more years than I care to remember is Nerine undulata. I think it was called N. crispa when I first bought it, but as with so many plants its name has changed (oh dear, I think I'm now showing my age). Most gardeners will hopefully have come across the popular hardy Nerine bowdenii, which can be naturalised outside in a suitable free-draining soil, or simply grown in pots, but N. crispa has far more delicate, wavy, pale pink petals.

I don't want to be accused of neglect, but nerine really does like to be left undisturbed in the same pot for many years to get really pot bound. The bulbs slowly divide and multiply, and as the new bulbs mature and flower your display will grow more impressive too.

Once you start doing a little research it's amazing just how many different nerine varieties are available from specialist nurseries. I'd certainly recommend them for late colour: most start flowering in September and October, and continue looking good right through November.

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Talkback: Nerine
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Gardeners' World Web User 31/10/2008 at 14:41

Hi Adam I have a lovely container of Nerines in full bloom at the moment. The container is wide but shallow. The bulbs were given to me many years ago, so I don't know exactly what variety they are. I did split the bulbs up a cuple of years ago and now have several in smaller pots which have not done as well a the larger container. I am thinking of planting these out, in my sandy south garden. Will they take years to establish in the ground before they flower? Or should I just put them together again in another large pot?

Gardeners' World Web User 05/11/2008 at 12:00

Yes, I do have pots of Nerine sarniensis, Lorrie. These aren't said to be as hardy as N. bowdenii, but have been fine in terracotta pots in my unheated greenhouse. I think they'd be do even better if you can keep your greenhouse slightly warmer as you say. And E-J, as you don't know what variety of Nerine you have I'd be cautious about planting them out, and would prefer keeping them in a large pot. The bulbs slowly multiply to get ever more congested, but congested bulbs like these appear to flower well. I'd suggest potting into a loam-based compost with extra grit added, as this will keep the bulbs going for several years.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

Hi Adam, I've got a pot of Nerine Bowdenii in flower in the garden at the moment, it's always lovely to see them coming into flower when all else is finishing. I was at Wisley earlier this month and bought four different bulbs of Nerine Sarniensis which I plan to plant together in one pot and keep in the greenhouse. Have you ever grown these? Will they be OK in my greenhouse which I try to keep to a minimum of 10 degrees through the winter? Lorrie