August 23, 2009

A Rare Event - A Nerine falcata Blooms

There are a few bulbs in my collection, that I lug back and forth from the greenhouse, each year, as they slowly mature. Many of these South African bulbs are challenging, and demanding such as Boophane disticha, or some of the Cyrtanthus species. I adore Nerine sarniensis as many of you know, but the genus has a few rarer species, one of which is this, Nerine falcata, a close relative of N. laticoma, both are summer growing species that adore hot temperatures, and dry winters under glass.

According to the collector of the seed, "there are three main groups of Nerine. - winter-growing, summer-growing and evergreen species. Although some are very common and others extremely rare, none are too difficult in cultivation givent that you have an alpine house, or greenhouse, for none can freeze. The main key cultural point is to allow for their correct time of growth and dormancy.

A relative of N. laticoma this is horticulturally very distinct with upright light green leaves below huge spherical umbels of strongly recurved, large, bright-pink flowers each borne on a 25cm long peduncle.

The flower stalk is topped off by, what else but long peduncles and when topped off with the large brightly coloured flowerhead, is rather is show-stopping.
Culture is not too challenging, again, if you can provide exactly what it needs. I suppose, if you live in San Diego or southern California, you may grow this outdoors, if you can find one. I grow my plant in a large, long tom pot, which is filled with granite rock chips and sand, so it is extremely fast draining, and, extremely heavy. I really never expected this plant to bloom, for I have have the bulb for about 8 years now. Last week while watering the summer growing bulbs on the gravel bed, I saw this bud emerging, so this was a surprise.
The bulb of Nerine falcata is large and it needs a good sized pot or a free root run to do itself justice. They like high, even very high, summer temperatures which is rather odd for Nerine species, but unlike N. sarniensis, or N. bowdenii, this species demands a completely dry winter period.

I fertilize rather heavily during the summer, early in the summer with 10-10-10-, then in late July, 0-6-6. Flowers are borne from the current season’s growth, in autumn, so it is up to your horticultural skills if they flower or not. This bulb is 9 years old, and this is the first year it has bloomed. I wonder if last year's hot temperatures helped the bulb form a flower bud deep inside. The pot usualy sits on scalding hot granite, and I allow it to dry out between waterings, after all, it is planted practically in rock and sand, but it seems to relish this treatment, and of course, this year, I am very pleased for the treat.

A lucky honey bee treats himself to some Nerine nectar.

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations! With some luck, maybe your honey bee will help produce some seed.

    A question on minimum temperatures-how low a temperature can they take if they are in a room that serves as my greenhouse? It can get down into the mid 30's at night during frigid January weather.


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