How to Grow Nerine Plants

Guide to Growing Guernsey Lily, Jersey lily, and Cape flower

Nerine are usually grown as half hardy bulbs in the garden and reach heights of 30 to 60 cm.

They bloom from summer to the autumn with flowers that look like small lilies atop stiff stems.

They do not have very pretty foliage so are good to grow in the middle of borders.

Common names for Nerine include Guernsey Lily, Cornish lily and Cape flower.

Nerine picture by wallygrom.

Nerine bowdenii
Nerine bowdenii photograph by Just chaos.

Nerine Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Guernsey Lily, Cornish lily, Jersey lily, Cape flower
  • Life Cycle: Half hardy bulb. Perennial, often evergreen.
  • Height: 12 to 24 inches (30—60 cm).
  • Native: South Africa
  • Growing Region: Zones 8 to 10.
  • Flowers: Deciduous varieties bloom in summer through autumn before leaves appear.
  • Flower Details: Lily-like. Small. White, red, pink. Clustered, as an umbel atop a leafless stem.
  • Fruit: Small red berries. Summer through autumn.
  • Foliage: Deciduous or Evergreen. Linear. Flat. Stiff stems. Larger plants may develop two stems.
  • Sow Outside: Usually grown from bulbs as seed grown Nerine typically take four to five years to bloom.
    Seeds: Surface. Autumn using fresh ripe seed.
    Bulbs: 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). Beginning of autumn. Spacing 5 to 8 inches (12.5—20 cm). Bulb grown Nerine usually bloom in the second year.
  • Sow Inside: Autumn using fresh ripe seed. Germination time: 1—3 weeks. Temperature: 65 to 70°F (18—21°C). Transplant outdoors following the last frost or in autumn.
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or slight shade. Good drainage. Moist soil. Regular watering during dry periods to keep soil moist during growing season, but do not overwater. Do not water at the start of blooming. Resume watering once all flowers are in bloom. Crowd plants for best results. Propagate: by dividing bulbs in the autumn.
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Amaryllis plants.
  • Miscellaneous: Makes a great cut flower for a vase, as it is able to survive for up to two weeks (in water).

How to Grow Nerine

Guernsey, Jersey lily and other Nerine members can be grown from seeds or bulbs. The bulbs should be planted about 10 to 15 cm deep and about 12 to 20 cm apart at the start of autumn. Nerine seeds should be sown on the surface using fresh seed as soon as it is produced in the autumn.

Nerines can grow in sunny or lightly shaded areas that have good drainage, though the soil should be kept moist.

If starting indoors then sow Guernsey lily seeds using fresh seed as soon as available, it will take around two to three weeks to germinate at 18 to 21 degrees centigrade.

Once growing well, transplant the Nerine seedlings into the garden the following spring after the last frost. It should take about five year until seed grown Guernsey lilies produce flowers.

Caring for Guernsey Lily and other Nerine plants

Not the easiest plants to look after, Guernsey lily and other Nerine members require watering regularly until they start to bloom, stop watering while blooming, but resume once flowering has finished. Watering should continue even after the leaves have died back.

For best results grow the plants close together. If you require more Nerine lily plants then propagate by dividing the bulbs in late autumn.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Nerine plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Allium schoenoprasum and Sprekelia plants.

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