The Pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), also called pineapple flower, is a South African native and member of the lily fami" >

Pineapple lily

Pineapple lily

The Pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), also called pineapple flower, is a South African native and member of the lily family. The name Eucomis comes from the Greek word 'eukomos,' meaning lovely-haired, referring to the attractive flower heads. The Pineapple Lily flower is formed by a spike of multiple smaller flowers coming from a rosette of thick leaves. Flowers range in color from cream and green shades to pinkish-purple. The Pineapple Lily flower spike is topped with a pineapple-like cluster of leaves.

The Pineapple Lily is a very easy plant to grow, needing little or no special attention. Pineapple lily likes moisture during its growing season so water it regularly in spring and summer. In cold regions, however, grow it as an annual bulb, bringing indoors and keeping warm and dry for the winter. Do not water during winter. If you lift the bulbs, make sure to replant them as early as possible in spring but after any danger of frost has passed.

The Pineapple Lily bulbs should be placed in the ground during spring, only after all danger of freezing has passed. Bulbs put into the garden should be planted level with or just below the soil surface, approximately 2-3 inches, in well drained, humus-rich soil. Try not to plant too deep.

Pineapple lilies prefer full sun to lightly shaded areas. If growing pineapple lily in a container, plant at a depth where the neck of the bulb is just barely peeking out of the soil. When fully mature, pineapple lilies can reach up to 2 feet tall. These plants tend to grow larger if planted into the open garden but many people find them easier to grow in pots.

Divide your Pineapple Lily in spring every 5-6 years by removing offsets. Although it is easy to start from seed, it can take two to five years before the plant reaches blooming size.

Eucomis species are attractive specimen plants for the garden, and the flowers are long-lasting, making them excellent for cutting. From spring throughout fall, the handsome Pineapple Lily plant is great for use within the perennial border. This lovely, exotic-looking plant will return every year, giving a near-tropical appearance to the garden.

Some of the most commonly grown species include E. autumnalis from the southeastern part of Africa. This species is found on rocky or grassy slopes and has long, strap-shaped, wavy-edged leaves with white to greenish flowers that bloom in late summer into fall.

E. bicolor has a large tuft of leaves and white flowers edged with purple. It is found along grassy stream banks and in forests.

E. comosa is found in grassland and marshes along the southeastern Cape of Africa. The wavy-edged leaves are purple with fragrant, cream and green flowers.

E .pole-evansii is the tallest species with soft, green flowers and creamy centers blooming mid summer.

Kids are often fascinated with this unique plant; however, be cautious as parts of the Pineapple Lily plant are poisonous if ingested.

Pineapple lilies grow from bulbs. You can get the bulbs at a local garden center or through mail order. They may be planted directly in the ground or in pots. They also grow well in a hanging basket. When planting outdoors, plant the bulbs five inches deep in areas that consistently get temperatures below freezing in the winter. In warmer areas, they may be planted so the top of the bulb is just below the surface of the soil. Do not plant the bulbs outdoors until all danger of frost is past. You may start the bulbs indoors a few weeks before the last frost so that they are already growing before setting them outside.

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.

Water 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 compost or well-rotted manure will help keep the soil fertile.

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.

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.

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 again.

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.

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