Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pineapple Lilies for late bloom have REALLY long-lasting flowers.

Eucomis 'Can Can' - facing East
Tropical-looking but Hardy
   Lovely succulent leaves with waxy florets on the stem open over a long period of time in the garden or as a cut flower - so long in fact that a quick rinse under the faucet might be in order to remove dust accumulation.  Other than artificial stems, how many other garden flowers need a light dusting - or a bath - every once in a while in the house?

To make an exciting floral display indoors, we cut the entire stem just as the bottom flowers are beginning to open, as shown to the left.  Unlike our regular lilies, there are no worries about the bulbs being damaged by cutting too much stem.  All of the leaves of Eucomis or Pineapple Lilies are produced from a whorl at the top of the bulb and the stem is delightfully bare, making cutting an entire flowering stalk just fine.  All the buds on the stem will open in turn from the bottom up, and then as the top ones open, the bottom individual florets mature into seedpods which are attractive on their own merits - extending the show by another 3 weeks or more.  In vases, water should be changed every few days to keep stems fresh and other flowers or greens replenished as needed, or desired.  Do choose a heavy bottomed glass or pottery vase because the weight and length of these stems can be rather imposing.  These are not flowers for the faint of heart floral designer - a floral arrangement involving Pineapple Lilies will demand front and center attention - not be content tucked into a corner. As a bonus,  the fragrance of some hybrids resembles a very light coconut scent.  (Our next Blog Post on Monday will feature a simple "how-to" Eucomis arrangement.)

Eucomis 'Rueben' - Aren't those "topknots" cute?

In our temperate maritime climate here in the Northwest corner of Washington State, our Pineapple lilies take 5 or 6 hard frosts into the mid twenties to finally flatten down the foliage and stop growth for the season.  At that point, if your area is colder than USDA Zone 6, to prepare them for winter you can pile a wheelbarrow load of shredded leaves at least a foot thick for an insulating mulch.   For assurance in very severe climates where the soil may stay frozen over a foot deep, dig the bulbs instead – cutting off the leaves just above the bulb top – and store them indoors at above freezing temperatures  and  “dry” over winter. 

Although our farm has copious amounts of rainfall/snow over winter, 50-75 inches of rain between October and April alone, alternated with normal freezes down to the low teens with an occasional single digit;  we do not mulch our Eucomis at all in the open field.  Our winter temperatures do not seem to harm the bulbs, but with our high rainfall the soil would stay too wet if we mulched the plants and the bulbs would certainly decay.

Eucomis 'Tugela Jade'
Eucomis 'Meguru' showing purple centers.

(Maturing too late to ship across country in the fall, these Pineapple Lilies will next be available in our Spring 2012 Catalog and Reference Guide.  You can read more about these amazing flowers on our Eucomis page on the B&D website

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