NERINE, GUERNSEY or JERSEY LILY

P. These are bulbs with most beautiful flowers often seen in florists’ windows in early autumn, but rarely grown by the majority of amateurs. They demand some attention, The flowers appear in autumn in umbels of 9 to 12 blooms, carried on but few gardeners having seen a plant in full bloom would grudge the necessary care. Nerines can be grown in a cool greenhouse or living room, and at least one species will succeed in a sheltered position outdoors. firm stems I—2 ft. tall. The strap-like leaves may appear about the same time as the flowers or later. They usually continue to grow until spring. The colour range covers scarlet, crimson, cerise, salmon, pink and blush. many having a lustre on the petals which suggests dusting with gold or silver.

Bulbs should be potted in August, using a compost of 2 parts loam, 1 part peat and 1 part sand plus bonemeal. A 4 ½ in. pot will take one nerine, which should be planted to about half way up the neck of the bulb. Do not water until the flower spikes appear and then water regularly until the leaves start to turn yellow. The pots are transferred to a frame to dry off directly growth ceases (usually in April or May). Alternatively pots can be placed on their sides on a sunny window ledge or shelf. It is important to give the bulbs the maximum sunlight, otherwise they may fail to ripen properly. No water should be given. When the flower spikes are showing in September bring the pots inside again and water as before. Note that nerines bloom most freely when potbound. It is, however, advisable to replace the top inch or so of compost each August with some fresh loam plus bonemeal. Among the named varieties of nerines, Scarlet Beauty, the salmon-scarlet Minerva and shell-pink Stephanie are especially commendable.

Few nerines are reliably hardy in this country, although N. bowdenii is generally successful at the foot of a south or south-west wall, preferably against a greenhouse. It is a pleasing rose-pink and like all nerines remains in bloom for several weeks. Plant in July with the top of the neck of the bulb just below soil level and protect in winter with straw, bracken or heather. Nerines are increased by planting the offsets in August.

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