Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Nerine Bowdenii

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Nerine bowdenii Flower (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Nerine bowdenii Flower (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Autumn

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 50cm

Eventual Spread: 15cm

Hardiness: 7b – 10b

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Nerine bowdenii is a deciduous perennial bulb. Its mid green leaves are strap shaped, glossy and appear in early spring. These leaves die back in late summer, before the plant flowers. Its mildly fragrant pink flowers are trumpet shaped with winged petals, appear as a loose umbles at the end of flowering spikes in groups of up to 10 and are up to 15cm across. Its fruit. The bulb itself may achieve a diameter of 14cm across.

Nerine bowdenii, commonly known as the Bowden Cornish Lily, Cape Flower, Guernsey Lily or Japanese Spider Lily, is native to South Africa. Nerine bowdenii was introduced into the UK in 1903.

The etymological root of the binomial name Nerine is named after the daughter of the Greek mythical creature Nereus, a sea nymph. Bowdenii is named after Athelstan Hall Cornish-Bowden (1871 – 1942) who was responsible for introducing this plant into the UK.

The landscape architect may find Nerine bowdenii useful as an autumn flowering bulb for stoney soils or rockeries. Once established this bulb is drought tolerant. Once established this bulb resents being moved. These bulbs flower best when they are crowded.

Ecologically, Nerine bowdenii flowers are attractive to pollinating insects.

Nerine bowdenii (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Nerine bowdenii (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Nerine bowdenii their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Nerine bowdenii prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils.

Nerine bowdenii requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided after flowering, the new clumps may take a few years to recover.

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