nerines for November

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What is up with the lack of interest in nerines in the U.S.? They have long, cuttable stems, the blooms last much longer than tulips, as in weeks rather than days, and they flower at a time of year when something so fresh and delicate and saturated in color and intricate in shape seems too good to be true. And, unlike tulips, they multiply and return every year. And all that beauty for so little effort. Even a complete newb to nerines like me can get them to flower — they’re that easy. I keep the pots dry all summer, an unfortunately easy task during our rainless months, and then water them when the leaves begin to show in fall. Here in Los Angeles they’re fine outdoors year-round, whether in the ground or in pots, but these bulbs from South Africa are typically grown in greenhouses.

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To get ahold of some of the fabulous varieties like this, I’d have to splurge over $125 on a phytosanitary certificate to bring them in from the UK. (My bulbs were gifts years ago from Matt Mattus of Growing With Plants. I hope he still has his collection, because I know his greenhouse was feeling a bit crowded from all the pots of nerines along with everything else this amazing American plantsman grows.)

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From the flamboyant to the understated, today being the 15th of November aka Bloom Day, the tiny blooms on some potted mammillaria deserve mention.

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Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ leaning hard on Agave ‘Northern Lights.’

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Still in the grips of the fall planting frenzy, to wit, late afternoon yesterday I climbed up in the lookout for some reading. But mostly I just scanned the garden and ate pistachios because the cat was dozing on my reading material. From that lofty vantage point, it became obvious that the garden would be much improved by taking out a couple soft plants and adding in their place the currently pot-grown Yucca linearifolia. The deed was quickly done before sundown, probably a little too quickly (fingers crossed the yucca pulls through), and early this morning my first thought was of that large, tantalizingly vacant container. Something new, big and bold would have to be brought home from the nursery! That was my second thought. But don’t I have something big and bold here at home that might appreciate roomier quarters? Indeed I do, a 6-foot tall Pseudobombax ellipticum, the Shaving Brush Tree. That’s its swollen trunk/caudex surrounded by the Mexican snowball, Echeveria elegans, that I gathered up from elsewhere in the garden. Maybe I’ll see the first flowers from the Shaving Brush Tree this spring.

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6 Responses to nerines for November

  1. Kris P says:

    You’re adventurous when it comes to gardening, that’s for sure! There’s a Pseudobombax at the local botanic garden that’s huge – I hope yours stays in line in the pot. I had Nerines in my former garden and I’ve planted some in the ground here with no result. Someone suggested I may have planted the bulbs too deep so, if I find more bulbs, I’ll follow your example and try them in pots.

  2. ks says: ! Surely you would think someone in the US would provide some of those fancy cultivars. I had significant lack of success when I tried some several years ago-I feel quite certain I had no clue as to the proper handling.

  3. Denise says:

    @Kris, the neck of the bulb should be exposed at planting, not buried deep like tulips — that’s a good point I didn’t think to mention. I’ve seen lots of pseudo-bonsai treatment of pseudobombax at shows, and I’ve had mine in a 3-gallon for years.
    @Kathy, you would think! Maybe I should be a U.S. nerines dealer?!

  4. hb says:

    Nerines, okay, but what is this Agave ‘Northern Lights’? ‘Splain! We wants it.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Sorry I know I’m late to the discussion here. Occasionally they sell nerines at the South Coast Botanic Garden. They had some nice clumps at their annual sale in years past, which is where I acquired mine.

  6. Denise says:

    @Hoov, I knew I answered your query, but apparently on the echeveria post! “Hoov, that agave is still a mystery. I bought it at a private sale in San Diego and was assured there was info available on it but haven’t found any. I was told to try the Facebook groups, but I’m off FB…”
    @Jeremy, thanks for that info — I’ll keep an eye out for their sales.

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