Eucomis are summer-blooming bulbs with exotic flowers that give this plant its common name "pineapple lily". The long, strappy leaves may be green or burgundy, and the stems are sometimes freckled with contrasting colors. Eucomis flower colors can be white, pink or violet.
Eucomis are easy to grow and their long-lasting flowers and attractive foliage are always an exciting addition to flowerbeds, borders and containers.
START WITH A BETTER BULB
It’s easy to see the difference in quality when you compare two eucomis bulbs side by side. Eucomis bulbs are graded by size, measured in centimeters. Large, 14/16 cm bulbs (like ours on the right) grow into big plants that will give you a more beautiful display of foliage and flowers than a smaller-sized bulb (on the far left).
Here’s how to get your eucomis off to a great start.
SHADE AND SUN: In northern zones, eucomis grow best in full sun. In areas where the sun is more intense, the plants appreciate a little shade during the hottest part of the day.
ZONE: Eucomis are winter hardy in zones 7-10. In colder areas they may be grown as annuals, or the bulbs can be stored indoors during the winter for replanting the next spring. Reference the USDA Hardiness zone map here.
WHEN TO PLANT: Eucomis bulbs should be planted outdoors in spring after all danger of frost has passed. For a head start, you can plant the bulbs in pots indoors about a month before they are planted outside.
WHERE TO PLANT EUCOMIS
FLOWERBEDS AND BORDERS: Eucomis have attractive foliage as well as interesting flowers. The plants typically grow 18-24" tall and equally wide. This makes them suitable for edging a walk or pathway. They're also good accent plants for the front or middle of a flowerbed. Good companions include coreopsis, sedum, begonias, calla lilies and bergenias.
ROCK GARDENS: Eucomis are native to South Africa, where they typically grow in open, rocky areas. Rock gardens are ideal for eucomis because they give the plants the sharply drained soil they prefer.
CONTAINERS: Eucomis grow well in pots and planters. Simply fill a pot with coarse, well-drained soil mix and plant the bulbs. For a nice, full display, plant 3 bulbs in a 12" pot.
PLANTING IS AS EASY AS 1-2-3
1. In the garden, dig a hole 5” deep. In a container, dig a hole 3” deep.
2. Set the eucomis bulb into the hole.
3. Cover with soil and water lightly.
PLANTING TIPS FOR EUCOMIS
Pineapple lilies look exotic, but they're actually very easy to grow. Simply plant the bulbs in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Wait until the soil temperature is 65 degrees or warmer, as eucomis bulbs will not grow in cold soil. It typically takes 3 to 4 weeks for the plant's leaves to begin emerging from the bulb.
Grow eucomis in loose, well-drained soil. Heavy or soggy soil may cause the bulbs to rot. At the start of the growing season, it's best to keep the soil barely moist. Once the plant has several leaves, start watering consistently, keeping the soil relatively moist until after flowering.
In late summer, flower stalks emerge from the center of the plant and will rise to a height of 12-18". Each flower is a column of florets, crowned with a topknot of tiny leaves. The florets open slowly from the bottom up, over a period of 3 weeks or more. After the petals drop, they are replaced by attractive seed capsules.
A dose of liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks will help keep eucomis plants lush and vigorous.
CARING FOR EUCOMIS AFTER THEY BLOOM
Eucomis plants are dormant during the winter months. This is true even in zones 7-10 where the bulbs are winter hardy.
Where eucomis is hardy, the bulbs can be left right in the ground to bloom again the following summer. The bulbs should stay relatively dry while they are dormant, so avoid planting in soggy soil. In zone 7, mulching the soil surface in the fall will help protect the bulbs from freezing.
Gardeners in cool climates (zones 3-6) can treat eucomis bulbs as annuals. Simply discard the bulbs at the end of the growing season and plant new ones next spring. Alternatively, you can dig up the bulbs and store them indoors for the winter.
If you want to store the bulbs indoors, cut off the flower stalk after flowering and allow the foliage to continue growing until it either dies back naturally or is at risk of being frosted. If the bulbs are in the ground, dig them up and gently remove the soil from around the bulb. Let the plant dry in a warm, protected area until the foliage has withered. If your eucomis are in pots, just bring the pots indoors. Store the dormant bulbs at 45-50°F until it's time to replant them in the spring.