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Plant of the month: Nerine Bowdenii

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Could your garden use a little tropical lift in the middle of autumn? Consider planting some Nerine Bowdenii, a bulbous perennial belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family, also known as Cornish or Bowden lily. The exotic-looking flowers are quite simple: a strong clear pink flower with wavy edged petals sits on upright stems, which, usually, arise before the low tufts of strappy foliage.

Despite their South African origin, where they are planted for their very late colourful displays, these lily-like flowers can grow prolificly even in cooler Cambridge gardens, provided they are given all the sun and shelter available. For example, they could be planted at the foot of a south facing wall, in a warm sunny border or even in pots and containers as they prefer growing in crowded groups rather than singly. This means that whether you have a courtyard, gravel, or cottage garden, or even just a wall-side border, these flowers can bring colour to your garden each autumn. Generally, they thrive on well-drained, chalky and sandy soils, however we’ve found that the dry Cambridgeshire climate means these versatile flowers thrive even on our heavier soils.

If you already know how they could be integrated into your garden design, then all you need to do is plant them in spring, ensuring the neck and the top half of the bulb sit above the ground. If you plant them when it is still cold, you should apply a generous amount of dry mulch. Once planted, they do not like being disturbed for at least a few years, so ensure your chosen location is the correct one


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