Bowden and Guernsey lily (Nerine)
In this article we will learn to care and how to plant Nerines.
These are the two most commonly cultivated species:
- Nerine bowdenii, commonly known as Bowden lily, which produces pink flowers.
- Nerine sarniensis, commonly known as Guernsey lily is more delicate and requires more protection in winter.
There are more than 20 species of Nerine. It is a genus of bulbous plants originating in South Africa.
In this article
Plant profileCommon name: Bowden lily, Guernsey lily
Scientific name: Nerine bowdenii, Nerine sarniensis
Plant type: Bulbs
Height: 10cm - 50cm
Spread: 10cm - 50cm
Flower color: Pink, Red, White
Season of interest: Autumn
Sunlight: Full Sun
Soil: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Moist but well drained, Well drained
Garden type: Coastal, Informal Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Rock & Gravel Garden
Planting type: Cut Flowers, Flower borders and bedding, Wall-side Borders
In the northern hemisphere they bloom in autumn, producing small to medium-sized flowers. The flowers have six narrow, curved petals at the tips.
The dormancy of these bulbs occurs in the dry summer. In autumn, the flowers appear, followed by the foliage.
There are many varieties, usually grown in pots. These bulbs can grow outdoors in areas with a milder climate or in places sheltered from the frost.
How to plant Nerines
You can plant outside, in a sheltered place, preferably next to a sunny wall. The soil must be well drained, excess water will cause the bulbs to rot.
Alternatively, they can be grown in pots. This is an ideal solution if your soil has poor drainage or if you don’t have a sheltered spot. This way, you can move the pot and protect it in the cold months.
Nerines do not flower in shady places and do not like competition from other plants in the garden.
From our experience, Nerine bulbs grow well even in the rough gaps of stone walls, on the side facing the sun. And in autumn it is a real pleasure to see them bloom, painting an ugly wall with brushstrokes of intense pink.
Guernsey lily (Nerine sarniensis) are best suited for growing in pots and greenhouses as they are more less tolerant to outside conditions.
If planting in the soil, plant the bulbs 10 cm apart. Do not bury the bulbs, allow the apex of the bulb to be exposed above ground level.
However, in colder areas, plant 5 cm deep so that the soil provides some frost protection.
The flowers bloom in the fall. Leaves can grow at the same time or soon after flowers and die naturally in summer.
How to grow Nerines
Water moderately as the flower stem appears in the fall and increase watering as the stem and, later, the leaves develop during the winter.
From January to April, feed every two weeks with liquid feed rich in potassium.
Stop watering when the foliage starts to turn yellow. Keep the plants slightly dry during the summer dormancy period.
The bulbs should be left planted for several years until they are tight and flowering is reduced. When you notice that this happens, at the end of the following summer or beginning of autumn, you should lift the clumps divide and plant again.
Pruning and other care
Remove the dead flowers unless you want to use the seeds. Remove the foliage only when it has completely dried and the bulbs have gone dormant.
You can propagate Nerines by dividing the bulb clumps or by seed.
Lift the congested clumps of bulbs and divide them.
Nerines can also be propagated from seeds that should be sown once they are ripe.
Use a very well drained compost. Sow and apply a light layer of compost just to keep the seeds in place. Germination occurs at a temperature of 10-13°C (50-55°F).
The new plants will grow during the first year if kept watered and free of ice. Then they can be lifted and planted individually. It can take 3 to 5 years for the plants to reach flowering size.
Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve this guide about how to plant Nerines? Please let us know in the comments section below.