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Nerine lily (ne-REE-nee) is a genus of flowering lily plants popular among gardening enthusiasts for their autumn blooms.
The red, white, and pink flowers of Nerine lilies belong to the popular Amaryllis plant family Amaryllidaceae.
The Nerine genus is native to South Africa with about 20 to 30 species of flowering plants.
Nerine lilies have several common names:
- Diamond Lily – flowers sparkle in the sunlight like diamonds
- Jersey lily
- Japanese Spider lily
- Guernsey lily
NOTE: Nerines are also related to the Amaryllis Belladonna lily. The Peruvian daffodil lily and Crinum lilies are also called the “spider lily.”
Nerine bowdenii and Nerine sarniensis (and their hybrids) are the most popular.
While some of these plants are bulbous perennials, others are evergreen.
They are known for their brightly colored flowers that thrive in rocky and arid habitats.
The genus was discovered by Reverend William Herbert in 1820 and named after Nerine, a water nymph from Greek mythology.
Nerine Lily Bulbs Care
Size & Growth
The bulbous perennial flowering species of the Nerine genus has herbaceous foliage.
The plants sprout fresh new leaves during the springtime, which eventually die down by the end of late summer.
During the fall is bloom time when the bright flowers appear.
The garden plants grow about 18″ to 24″ inches tall and can spread anywhere between 3″ to 8″ inches wide.
They are hardy to frost tender, fragrant and deer resistant.
Nerine flower bulbs also take a minimum of two years of growth and development before producing their first lily-like flowers.
Flowering and Fragrance
Depending on the species, Spider Lily plants have inflorescences that bear spherical umbels of flowers.
These flowers look similar to lilies in shades ranging from pink to crimson through white.
Each individual flower is flared and consists of six, narrow petals that get wider towards the curled tip and have wavy margins.
The blooming time for the flowers is usually in late spring or early winter.
In some species of the Spider Lily, the leaves develop after the plant flowers.
This is called hysteranthy and is common in the deciduous species of Nerine.
In other species, synanthy is common, which happens when the leaves and flowers appear together.
Light & Temperature
Spider Lilies thrive when planted in full sun yet shaded position.
Make sure to plant them in a location where they get enough sun during the early hours of the day but have some shelter to avoid getting scorched.
If you plant them in complete shade, they will not do well and won’t bear any flowers in the fall.
Also, these bulbs are not hardy below 38° degrees Fahrenheit.
However, some species such as the Nerine bowdenii can be grown in USDA zones 7a to 10b. In zones below 7, bring the plant inside during winter.
Watering and Feeding
Like most perennials, Spider Lilies also have average watering needs.
Water the plant moderately during the growing season to spike flowering in the fall.
Make sure to not overwater the plants as that can make them susceptible to root rot.
Also, stop watering when you see the foliage starting to yellow.
However, avoid letting the soil dry out completely during the plants’ dormant period in summer.
As for feeding, use a liquid fertilizer high in potassium every two weeks. Maintain this process from January to April for optimal growth.
Soil & Transplanting
Spider Lily bulbs love well-drained and slightly gritty soil that is organically rich.
Along with that, Nerine lilies also need regular feeding to improve its health. Use nutrient-rich compost every 2 to 3 weeks to increase the soil’s porosity.
To prevent the plant from becoming root bound, repot them regularly at the end of every summer.
If you want to transplant a Spider Lily plant outside, make sure to position it in a sunny, sheltered location.
Position them in open borders or against the foot of a wall.
Grooming and Maintenance
Spider Lily plants need to be fed every two weeks during the growing period to increase the soil’s nutrient content.
Water moderately and prevent the soil from drying out completely.
Besides that, remove spent flower heads if you don’t require the seeds. Leave the foliage as it is until the end of the season.
Once it begins to die back and the bulbs begin to rest during summer, clear away the foliage as well.
How To Propagate Jersey Lilies
Nerines or Spider Lilies can be propagated in three ways, including division and through seeds.
To propagate by division, lift large clumps of offsets or baby bulbs growing around the parent plant and pot them separately.
Use an equal mixture of compost and gritty sand and bury the bulb with the neck just exposed.
If you’re propagating Nerines with seeds, make sure you sow them as soon as they ripen.
Again, use a well-drained mix of gritty sand and compost. Sow the seeds thinly and cover them with a light layer of compost.
Germinate the seeds at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If kept frost-free, the seedlings will remain in growth in the first year.
After that, repot them to a 4-inch pot (for every single bulb) and water moderately.
In this method, it can take 3 to 5 years for the Spider Lily to reach flowering size.
Nerine Bulbs Pest or Disease Problems
Spider Lily plants are prone to a variety of diseases and pests.
Some species can be susceptible to some plant viruses such as vallota mosaic virus.
This particular virus has been found to affect Nerine bowdenii in the UK. These viruses can lead to striped and distorted leaves.
As for pests, Spider Lilies can be susceptible to mealy bugs and bulb flies.
You can use a systemic insecticide as a treatment against both types of pests.
Do consult your local garden center if the problem doesn’t go away.
Soft Bulbs – If the soil stays too wet or remains saturated during summer rest, the bulbs soften and rot.
No flowers – plant do not flower when:
- Repotting or dividing too frequently
- Too large a pot, and damage to the roots.
- It is too cold in winter
- Too much fertilizer
New bulbs without roots bloom the first season but may take four years to bloom again.
Suggested Uses For Spider Nerines
Nerine lilies are commonly used in flower beds as perennial blooms for their bright flowers.
The blooms on these flowering bulbs make excellent cut flowers. Blooms last for 10 days, allowing you to have fresh blooms on your table.
Spider lilies are also great at container ornamental.
The aesthetics of the flowers are great for decorative purposes both indoors and outdoors.