Friday, April 6, 2012

Growing 'Tiny Piny' Eucomis - Planting Guide

'Tiny Piny' Eucomis bulbs bloom at about 12cm..

Potting up Pineapple Lilies (Eucomis) is easy, just use a gritty-type soil mixture (without any added fertilizer) that drains well.  Try to avoid bark-based products.

More diminutive than the species E. autumnalis that grows between 14 and 18 inches tall in my garden, the 'Tiny Piny' bulbs also need a much smaller bulb size to bloom (10/12 cm in circumference). During warm spring/summer days, you can expect flowering in about 9 to 12 weeks after planting if the weather stays warm.  These are suitable for growing a single bulb in a 4-inch pot or three in a 6-inch container for one year.  For longer term growing upgrade to a 10-inch pot for three bulbs, but be careful to not over water while the bulb is still dormant.
 Although you can also pot up the standard sized bulbs, they prefer at least a gallon of potting soil per bulb, same as our Lilium bulbs. 

Pot up 3 bulbs in a 5 to 6 inch pot.

Note the "gritty" soil?  We like to add more Perlite to regular potting soil.
 When leaves begin to emerge, do not let the soil dry out completely — if it does, the bulbs will stop growing to wait for more moisture. They enjoy a warm, sunny location such as under a south-facing roof overhang, and as with their larger “cousins”, are long-blooming with seedpods adding to the show later in the year.  Hardy to USDA Zone 7 — they will go colder with an insulating layer of mulch, or you can
Standard sized Eucomis need to be about 16cm in size to flower.
simply lift the bulbs for winter or bring pots indoors to store in a frost-free location.  We have bulbs against our house in a slightly raised bed, Zone 7/8, protected from our winter rainfall of 50+ inches and they do well without any mulch but their own fallen leaves.  They begin to emerge in April, growing whenever the sun warms the bed.  The same varieties planted out in the open field are subjected to rain, snow and slush all winter and emerge about 3 to 4 weeks later as the ground begins to dry out.  (The image here shows a group of standard sized bulbs that have divided.  The center bulb produced a ring of offshoots over the past four years which have now grown to full-size.)

Plant new bulbs after danger of deep frost is past, and soil begins to warm (e.g. May in Seattle), spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart, covered with not more than one inch of fluffy, amended soil.  If desired, lightly mulch after top growth begins.  You can also start the bulbs in a greenhouse with plenty of natural light, but they do not “force” well over winter because of the lower light intensity. Established bulbs with a good root system can be moved even if they are starting to poke up sprouts in spring.

Don't forget to label and date your pots.
As with all Eucomis, flowering stems begin very tiny and continue to expand throughout summer.  Pineapple Lilies are long-lived and although they prefer to be left undisturbed, offsets can be detached from the mother bulb in fall, taking an additional two to three years before they flower.  Bulbs are guaranteed true-to-name, but not for failure to bloom first summer or for loss due to over watering or winter conditions.

Finished product. (Tiny Piny Ruby')

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