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Lycoris radiate, Nerine bowdenii Ella K, and Freesia double white

Are any of these suited for containers? Or does their habit, height, bloom time duration, etc., make them more suited to planting in the garden? I ordered them to fill out a bulb order because they "looked cool", but the photos I found all focused on the flower and not the whole plant.

I plant a lot of deck pots with annuals each year, adding dahlias, caladiums, and tuberous begonias. I had bought a few lily bulbs for a vertical accent, but the squirrels dug them up and shredded them the day after planting.

Lycoris radiata (red)

Nerine bowdenii Ella K

Freesia double white


Comments (6)

  • Donna
    11 years ago

    Lycoris radiata grow like weeds in the south. They are large bulbs that look very similar to daffodils. The foliage is also very similar except it has a pale white stripe running down the center of each leaf. They put up naked stems without foliage in late summer or early fall and bloom for a week or two, depending on how hot it is. Cooler temps make the blooms last longer. Then the blooms die and the foliage comes up. It stands throughout the winter and usually goes dormant with the daffodils. It multiplies like crazy. To my knowledge, they are only cold hardy in zone 7 and greater, so would need pot culture in your area. If you can get them happy (and this shouldn't be difficult), I would let them fill a pot full. Keep it in an out of the way place except when it's blooming (maybe through some kind of ground cover or trailing plant?), and then take it back to its out of the way spot. I would think they'd do better if they are left in their pot all the time.

    I have not grown the other two.

  • linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thanks, Donna. That's an interesting idea, keeping them in pots. I see the red Lycoris planted here at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but I knew it wasn't hardy, they must just yank it out when it's done. I would have to try digging and storing over the winter. Storing a whole pot would certainly be easy.

    One of the things that concerns me with including any bulbs in my pots with annuals is dealing with unsightly foliage. At least in the garden I have things more or less planned out so there is someplace to tuck ripening foliage. I will not plan on using them in the annual pots, then.

    I wonder if it would multiple like crazy here? I have 3 bulbs, I could plant one per pot and have them peeping up between some hosta leaves.

  • vetivert8
    11 years ago

    Your Freesias will definitely grow in a container. They'll get to somewhere between 6 and 12" tall and the leaves are generally 'polite'. (Similar to Sisyrhinchium californica.)

    They often do well in a silty soil that's fertile and free-draining, so you might need to amend your chosen potting mix - and they like to be 'warm'. The hybrids are frost-tender (the leaves go to pulp and they seldom recover enough to flower.)

    For the pot - at least eight inches deep, excellent drainage, and stable. Terracotta is ok, as is plastic.

    Your Nerine is OK in pots. Plastic with a bit of 'give' to it might be better - the roots are sturdy. Keep dry over summer - a good 'baking' - and warm/sunny for flowering time. Plant with the neck out of the ground. (Like an Amaryllis.) Potash can be helpful - wood ash for preference. They might take one-two years to settle in before flowering for the first time. Dormant over winter. They don't like to be disturbed, so top-dress the mix in the pot until it fills with bulbs and becomes too crowded.

    Usually easy from seed.

  • flora_uk
    11 years ago

    I only have experience of Nerine bowdenii. It flowers in Autumn here and I wonder if it would be totally hardy for you. The leaves emerge after it has flowered and are evergreen through the winter here (seems to be a conflict with vetivert's 'dormant over winter' but is there an Anitpodean wrinkle here?)

    This is Nerine bowdenii in November 2010.


  • bluebonsai101
    11 years ago

    Nerine bowdenii is also a summer grower and winter dormant for me. Perhaps because the UK is so mild it grows in the winter there? Most Nerine are not that great in cold climates because they flower so late in the fall. Here is a pic of my N. bowdenii (white form) blooming last Oct well after our first frost and therefore protected inside to get the bloom:


    For me, the absolute best Nerine for containers in the north is N. krigeii as it blooms in August and is a drop-dead reliable performer year in and year out:


    Best of luck :o) Dan

  • flowergirl70ks
    11 years ago

    Radiata lives over for me here in the border of 5/6. I do have to divide occasionally.