Your Guide to Planning, Planting, and Growing Eucomis
Eucomis is a summer-blooming bulb with unusual flowers that inspired its common name: pineapple lily. Depending on the cultivar, the long, strappy leaves may be green or burgundy. The stems are sometimes freckled with purple. Eucomis flower colors come in white, pink and violet.
Though eucomis look exotic, they are easy to grow and their long-lasting flowers and attractive foliage are an exciting addition to flowerbeds, borders and containers.
Start with a Better Bulb
It’s easy to see differences in quality when you compare two eucomis plants side by side. Eucomis bulbs are graded by size, measured in centimeters. A large, 14/16 cm bulb (on the right) will give you a more impressive display of foliage and flowers than a smaller-sized bulb (on the far left).
Plan for Success
Shade and Sun: In northern parts of the country, eucomis grow best in full sun. In areas where the sun is more intense, the plants appreciate some shade during the hottest part of the day.
Zone: Eucomis are winter hardy in zones 7-10. In colder areas, they can be grown as annuals, or 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.
How to Plant Eucomis
In the garden, dig a hole 5” deep. In a container, dig a hole 3” deep.
Set the eucomis bulb into the hole.
Cover with soil and water lightly.
Planting Tips for Eucomis
Grow eucomis in loose, well-drained soil. Heavy or soggy soil may cause the bulbs to rot.
Eucomis will not grow in cold soil. Plant the bulbs after all danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature is 65°F or warmer. For an earlier start, plant the bulbs in nursery pots and transplant them into the garden in late spring or early summer.
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 are also good accent plants for the front or middle of a flowerbed. Suitable 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 sun and 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.
What to Expect
It typically takes 3 to 4 weeks for eucomis bulbs to break out of dormancy and begin sending out their first leaves. Be patient. It’s normal for them to take their time.
Before the bulbs sprout, keep the soil barely moist. Once the plant has several leaves, begin watering consistently, keeping the soil relatively moist until after flowering.
When the flower stalks emerge from the center of the plant, they 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 from the bottom up, over a period of 3 weeks or more. After the petals drop, they are replaced by showy seed capsules. You can either leave the spent flowers attached or remove them.
A dose of liquid fertilizer, applied every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, will help keep eucomis plants lush and vigorous.
Caring for Eucomis After they Bloom
In areas where eucomis is winter hardy (zones 7-10), the bulbs may be left in the ground to bloom again the following summer. Allow the foliage to die back naturally at the end of the season. While the bulbs are dormant, they should stay relatively dry, so avoid planting eucomis in soggy soil. In zone 7, mulching the soil surface in the fall will help protect the bulbs from extreme cold.
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 soon 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 after the first frost, keeping the foliage attached. Let the plant dry in a warm, protected area until the foliage has withered. Pull off the dried foliage and store the dormant bulbs at 45-50°F until it's time to replant them in the spring. If your eucomis are in pots, simply bring the pots indoors. Replant them in fresh soil next spring.
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