Your Guide to Planning, Planting, and Growing Eucomis
Eucomis are summer-blooming bulbs with unusual flowers that inspired this plant's common name: pineapple lily. Depending on the cultivar, the eucomis' long, strappy leaves may be green or burgundy, and its stems may be freckled with purple. Eucomis flower colors come in white, pink and violet.
Though they look exotic, eucomis are easy to grow and their long-lasting flowers and attractive foliage are always 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 (like ours on the right) will give you a more beautiful display of foliage and flowers than a smaller-sized bulb (on the far left).
Plan for Success
Shade and Sun: In northern zones, eucomis grow best in full sun. In areas where the sun is more intense, the plants appreciate a little shade during the hottest part of the day.
Zone: Eucomis are winter hardy in zones 7-10. In colder areas they may be grown as annuals, or the bulbs can be stored indoors during the winter for replanting the next spring.
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're also good accent plants for the front or middle of a flowerbed. Good 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 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 slowly 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 every 2-3 weeks 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 right 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 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. 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.