The Q&A Archives: Non-blooming Nerine

Question: Why doesn't my nerine bloom? I start the bulbs under lights and then plant out when danger of frost is over. The plants look healthy and produce new healthy looking bulbs but alas no blooms. Is my growing season too short?
I have in years past had bulbs that bloomed but this no longer happens. What type of light do they need to bloom?
My yard became more shaded until recently when disease and
neighbors reduced the surrounding trees. My garden now has much more light.

Answer: The information is taken from "Flowering Bulbs for Dummies" by Judy Glattstein and the NGA. Nerines are native to South Africa and prefer sunny, sandy, mild-climate regions, such as zones 6-11. They should be planted in spring in a sunny site with well-drained soil and plenty of organic matter. They are usually summer dormant and grow best if kept on the dry side. They like warm summer temperatures for best flowering in August to September or October.

Well, you're in a different zone and climate than suggested, but if you had them blooming before, you can do so again! If you have more sun in your yard now, that might make the difference. Also, do you supply the bulbs with phosphorous? To flower, plants need phosphorous. (Phosphorous is the middle number of the NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium) listed on fertilizer bags.) Since phosphorous doesn?t move as readily through the soil as does nitrogen, it?s a good idea to mix a small amount (follow package instructions) into the hole before transplanting. You might want to scratch some into the soil as a side dressing at this point. Use a fertilizer that has a higher middle number, such as 5-10-5. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorous. I hope this info helps to get those bulbs blooming again!

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