Eucomis: Why Grow Pineapple Lilies?
Last summer I grew eucomis for the first time. As you can see in the photo above, it was a big success. I discovered that pineapple lilies are incredibly easy to grow, really beautiful in person, and they bloom for almost a month.
Pineapple lilies are native to southern Africa, where the weather is about as different as you can get from my zone 4 garden. So I was surprised to discover how well they grew. If you garden where summers are hot and humid, you can expect even better results.
I grew two varieties: ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, which has maroon foliage and pink flowers, and Eucomis autumnalis (shown above). We also offer ‘Aloha’, which has green leaves and pink flowers. Below is ‘Leia’ growing in zone 7 last summer:
I grew my eucomis bulbs in terracotta pots, since they like warm, well-drained soil. The plants spent all summer on my patio where they were in full sun and had the benefit of extra heat from the crushed stone beneath them and a concrete wall nearby.
Flower spikes began appearing in mid-August and from the time the flowers started opening – slowly from the bottom up – to when they faded took a good 3 weeks. After that came decorative seed pods, which also looked interesting. So the show went on for more than a month.
In the photo below you can see some new flowers starting to open on the right and seed capsules forming on the stem at far left. (That’s hail damage on the foliage.) In the background are the leaves of E. ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ and elephant ears.
What I enjoyed most about growing pineapple lilies was how late they bloomed. In early summer everything is new, but by August I am ready to be dazzled by something different. These odd-looking flowers with their funny topknots are definitely different. The bees liked them, too. They were busy sipping nectar from dawn to dusk.
It’s not easy to think about late summer when you’re still waiting for the daffodils to bloom. But if you plant some pineapple lilies this spring, you’ll be feeling pretty happy about it next fall.