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How to grow and propagate Nerines

Brief History
All Nerines originate from South Africa and are widely seen throughout the region, often growing in large colonies.

Nerine sarniensis has been cultivated in Europe since the early seventeenth century. Its arrival is somewhat of a gardener's legend or some would say fairy tale. The first bulbs arrived from a shipwreck in the Channel Islands and finally washed up on the sand dunes of Guernsey in 1659. There are between 25 - 30 species of nerines. Bowdenii and sarniensis and their hybrids being the most common in cultivation.

Cultivation

Nerine Bowdenii
The leaves appear in spring, the bulbs grow in summer, so leaves form before the flowers appear in Autumn. The leaves often die down before or shortly after flowering and the bulb is dormant till spring. These are HARDY and can tolerate SEVERE winters.

Nerine sarniensis
These bulbs are winter growing with leaves growing after or during flowering in Autumn. These are NOT frost hardy and MUST be grown in a glasshouse or conservatory.

The essential points to remember when growing Nerines are:
1. Make sure you buy the correct Nerine for your needs - hardy or none hardy
2. They require full sun to partial shade
3. Growing medium must be well drained
4. Hardy Nerines can be grown in the border or containers, but if grown in containers - keep dry in winter and if in the border mulch with composted bark in late Autumn but remove in Spring.
5. Once planted they like to be left undisturbed
6. Plant with the neck of the bulb out of the soil/compost.

Propagation

Chipping
Chipping is a technique used to propagate bulbs it allows the gardener to produce a number of new plants by cutting each bulb into a number of pieces, depending on its size. This eventually produces new bulbs identical to the parent plant.

Always use a mature, virus-free bulb while it is dormant for deciduous species and after flowering for evergreen species.

1. Remove any papery outer skin and trim back the roots with a sharp knife & remove the growing tip.
2. Hold the bulb with the basal plate uppermost and cut it into 8-16 sections (chips), each of a similar size, depending upon the size of the bulb. Make sure each chip has a portion of basal plate
3. Place the chips in a clear plastic bag containing ten parts fine vermiculite to one part water. Blow up the bag with air and then seal and label it. Keep the bag in a dark warm place at about 20ºC for about 12 weeks you should then see the bulblets developing.
4. Pot up the bulblets into little pots to grow on.
When chipping bulbs always disinfect your knives hands and any equipment you use

Division
Amarines & Nerines naturally produce offsets (baby bulbs) next to the parent bulb. Offsets can be removed when the bulbs are dormant. They will be identical to the parent bulb, but they may take a few years to flowers.

Seeds
Nerines do not have hard dry seed that can wait until conditions are right for germination. They have large fleshy seed that germinate immediately. The seed is large full of nutrients and water. Often the seed will germinate on the flower head

Sow the seeds in a deep tray or pot, in sandy compost just below the surface. Leave in the tray for 2 summers, then either pot grow or plant directly into the border depending on the species.