Nerines put on a wonderful display of lily-like flowers in late autumn, in shades of pink, white and red, against strappy foliage. They work well in borders and containers and make great cut flowers, too. Nerines are bee-friendly, providing pollen and nectar at the end of the season.


Most nerines are tender and need to be grown in a greenhouse, but Nerine bowdenii is hardy in warmer regions of the UK.

Nerines are native to South Africa and are members of the Amaryllidaceae family, which also includes Agapanthus, Hippeastrum (amaryllis) and Narcissus (daffodil).

How to grow nerines

Nerines grow from bulbs. Plant them in spring in poor, free-draining soil in full sun, ideally with the added protection of a south-or west-facing wall. Cut back after flowering and tidy up foliage as plants start to die down for winter. Tender types will need bringing indoors in autumn, but Nerine bowdenii is hardy in southerly regions. Cover with a thick layer of mulch, instead.

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Where to plant nerines

Nerines growing in a border

True to their South African origins, nerines require a dry, sunny location to thrive and are happy in poor soil. Many are tender greenhouse bulbs, but Nerine bowdenii is hardy in warmer areas of the UK. For best results grow outdoors in well-drained soil in full sun, ideally sheltered by a south-or west-facing wall. They will not flower in shaded situations, and rich soils will encourage leaves rather than flowers. Nerines are also suitable for growing in containers.

When to plant nerines

Planting potted nerines in a container
Planting potted nerines in a container

The best time to plant nerine bulbs in spring to early summer, typically from April to June. If you plant nerines earlier the soil can be cold, any later and the bulbs won't grow and flower before the first frosts arrive. If you buy nerines as pot-grown flowering plants in autumn, leave them in their pots until the following spring.

How to plant nerines

Watering nerine bulbs in a pot

Prepare the soil by adding plenty of grit for drainage and plant nerine bulbs just below the surface, with their neck sticking out of he soil, 7-10cm apart. If you plant them too deeply they might not flower, so take care to ensure the bulbs sit just below the surface. Mulch for the first winter until established and expect to wait a year or so for the bulbs to flower prolifically. They also grow very well in pots.

Nerines can also be grown from seed. Sow seeds thinly in a tray of seed compost and grit and cover lightly with compost. The seeds need heat to germinate, 10-13°C. Water and keep warm. After a year, the small new bulbs can be potted on into individual pots and will take about 3-5 years to flower.

How to care for nerines

Nerine 'Fenwicks Variety'

Cut back spent flowers and tidy up foliage as the plants start to die back. Nerine bowdenii bulbs can be left in the ground in winter, although it's a good idea to spread a thick layer of mulch over the soil to protect them from severe frost (this will also encourage microbial activity in the soil and promote soil and plant health). Move tender, pot-grown nerines, such as Nerine sarniensis, into a sheltered, frost free spot such as an unheated greenhouse, in autumn.

How to propagate nerines

Nerine 'Alba'

Nerines tend to form large clumps over time and these need to be divided periodically to encourage good flowering. This is also the best way to propagate them. The best time to do this is in spring and early summer – simply dig up a clump, divide and replant smaller clumps separately.

Nerines can also be grown from seed. Collect seed after flowering and sow as soon as it's ripe.

Pests and diseases

Nerine undulata (Flexuosa group)

Nerine undulata (Flexuosa Group) are prone to weather and slug damage as flowers appear in early winter. After replanting, you may not see nerine flowers for a year. This is completely normal – they'll flower the following year after they've settled.

Advice on buying nerines

  • Nerines come in a variety of colours, make sure you choose the right colour for your garden
  • Always check nerine bulbs for signs of rot, damage or disease before planting, and discard any that are soft or mouldy

Where to buy nerines

Five nerines to grow

Nerine 'Zeal Giant'
Nerine 'Zeal Giant'
  • Nerine bowdenii 'Patricia' – with pretty pale pink blooms on sturdy stems, it looks great in a late summer border or indoors as a cut flower
  • Nerine bowdenii 'Alba' – crisp, pure-white, star-shaped blooms appear on sturdy stems. It makes a fantastic addition to the late summer border, or an excellent cut flower
  • Nerine bowdenii 'Fenwicks Variety' – the sturdy stem bear clusters of up to 12 pink blooms in autumn
  • Nerine bowdenii ‘Kathleen Pollock’ – is one of the cultivars with striking red flowers. It works well in a mixed herbaceous border and makes an excellent cut flower
  • Nerine undulata – is a species with delicate pinkish-purple flowers that appear even later than bowdenii varieties in November-December. It requires the same dry, sunny growing conditions, but due to late flowering, it'll need protection over winter in colder regions