February 25, 2024

Add drama to your summer garden with pineapple lilies

Pineapple Lilies

Photo courtesy of: B & D Lilies - Snow Creek Gardens

Add drama to your summer garden with pineapple lilies (Eucomis spp., Zones 7-10).  This tropical beauty has 15″ spires of tiny greenish-white or wine-colored flowers and broad strappy leaves.

Native to the rainy, mountainous areas of South Africa. The plant has a base rosette of long lance-shaped leaves. The blooms appear on a long spike topped with a tuft of smaller leaves. These leaves and the appearance of the flower spike while the flowers are still in bud make the flower head look like a pineapple, thus the name.

Pineapple lilies come in several different varieties. Variegated Pineapple Lily (E. bicolor) has leaves with wavy edges and flowers that are pale green with purple edges. E. autumnalis is similar, but the flowers do not have purple edges. Wine Eucomis (E. punctata) have flowers that are pink to purple or white. The undersides of the leaves of this species have purple spots.  To purchase these beautiful lilies visit B & D Lilies, Snow Creek Gardens at http://bdlilies.com/eucomis.html

For a spectacular show this summer, follow these tips

Plant: Pineapple lilies are summer bulbs, available in spring as bare bulbs or potted plants.  Once soil warms, plaint in containers or in garden beds with well-drained soil in full sun.  Pineapple Lilies will grow 1-2′ tall and wide.  Pineapple lilies grow best in a well-drained, fertile, sandy soil. Use a mixture of sandy loam, well-rotted manure, and sand. If the soil is not well drained, the bulbs will rot, especially in the winter. Put one or two inches of mulch over the soil if you are in an area where the temperature gets less than 20 degrees. Plant in full sun.  Pineapple lilies will tolerate a partly shady area in the garden. However, they bloom best when they get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Give them midday shade though, as they may wilt if exposed to the noonday sun. If they wilt, water them quickly and thoroughly and they should perk up.

WaterPineapple Lilies the plants well once they are planted. Pineapple lilies need constant moisture in the summer. Cut back on watering in the winter, as too much water will cause the bulbs to rot.

Fertilize regularly with fish emulsion or liquid kelp once the plant starts growing. A dressing of well-rotted manure or compost will help keep the soil fertile.

Contain it.  Keep potted pineapple lilies in the background in early summer, then move containers forward for prime viewing during their July and August bloom time. Pineapple lilies will start to form flower buds in July in North America. They should be in full bloom by August, filling your garden with tall spikes of colorful flowers.

Watch thePineapple Lilies second act.  After bloom, pineapple lilies put on a stellar second show.  Their dried seed heads are as gorgeous as their blossums.

Store over winter.  In colder climates, dig up bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place through the winter.  Plant them again early next summer. Pineapple lilies may be grown outdoors year round to Zone 7. They grow much better when left in the same spot for several years. In more northerly zones, you should dig up the bulbs and store them indoors for the winter. Store them in a pot of soil similar to that in the garden. Let the pots dry out before storing and keep them dry during the winter. Keep them in a place that stays between 55 and 68 degrees.

To divide, in early spring or fall, dig them up making sure to get as much of the roots as possible, and divide by hand or with a sharp knife. You can lightly coat any open wounds with fungicide if available. Eucomis is a little more sensitive to root disturbance than some bulbous plants, but if you are reasonable gentle with them, they will do fine.

Propagate:  You may propagate pineapple lilies by removing offshoots of the plant in the spring. Gently pull the new plantlet off the original  plant and put it into another part of your garden or into its own pot.

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