The Nerine Genus (Guernsey Lily)

There are between 20 and 30 species that fall under the Nerine genus, all of which come from South Africa.

These lovely plants come from the Amaryllis plant family, and have been confused with true lilies, thanks to the ornate appearance of the flowers.

Nerine At A Glance

The plants belonging to the Nerine genus all have great ornamental value, featuring brightly colored, long-lived flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, and white.

Nerines are versatile plants, used in rockeries, containers, mixed borders, and garden beds, blooming from summer well into fall.

While the common name for the Nerine plant is the Guernsey lily, they are not true lilies, and are more related to Amaryllis flowers rather than those under the Lilium genus.

Nerine Name Origin

The genus was given its name in 1820, by Rev. William Herbert, after the Nereids in Greek mythology.

The Nereids were 50 sea nymphs, the daughters of the Old Man of the Sea, who helped protect ships and guide sailors from the dangers of the sea.

It’s a fitting name, as the story of how it was introduced to Guernsey mentions a trading shipwreck at the shore of the island, where bulbs supposedly washed ashore and soon sprouted.

This is also where the name Guernsey lily comes from, as the plants belonging to this genus originate from South Africa.

Guernsey Lily Symbolism

Guernsey lilies represent prosperity, good luck, and freedom.

Nerine Uses

Nerine plants are popular throughout many parts of the world for their dramatic flowers, not just in the garden, but also as a cut flower.

They can last up to two weeks at a time when cut from the bulb, which is notably longer than most flowers we use in vases.

It also helps that Nerine plants are easy to hybridize. Most stem from Nerine bowdenii or Nerine sarniensis, and you’ll notice that hybrid forms are much more vivid than their species counterparts.

Nerine Growing Requirements

Guernsey lilies are easy to grow, but they absolutely require decent compost, which is rich in nutrients, with a lot of drainage.

The good news is that they don’t mind what type of soil you put them in, nor do you need to keep to an exact pH range.

These perennials are hardy in USDA zones 8 through to 11, and flower in summer, well into autumn if the weather allows.

The majority of Nerine plants can get to around 2 feet tall, which is a perfect size for borders, containers, and raised beds alike.

Guernsey lilies will grow happily in full sunlight or dappled shade, but you will need to keep an eye on them to make sure they stay healthy.

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