Eucomis pineapple lily
Height 45-60cm(1-½ – 2ft)
Planting distance 30cm (12in)
Flowers in late summer and early autumn
Any good, well-drained
Sunny and sheltered site
Bulbs available in spring
The South African pineapple lily takes its common name from the small tuft of pineapple-like leaf bracts on top of the robust flower stem. This rises as a dense spike of starryabove a basal rosette of arching, bright green strap-shaped leaves.
The species are not reliably hardy in Britain but make unusual and exotic additions to late-summer beds; they are also suitable for growing in deep pots or tubs on a sunny patio or in a conservatory.
Eucomis autumnale (syn. E. un-dulata) grows 45cm (1-1/2ft) tall and has wavy margins to the leaves. The flower spikes, in early autumn, are creamy-white, sometimes tinged green, and the individual flowers expand to wide stars. Eucomis bicolor is of similar height, with crimped leaf margins and flower spikes of palest green, with purple edges to the petals. Eucomis comosa (syn. E. punctata) is the tallest species, 60cm (2ft) or more high, with purple-spotted leaves and stems. The dense greenish-yellow flower spikes, with lilac throats, are scented.
Plant the bulbs in, setting them 10-15cm (4-6in) deep. They need fertile and very well-drained soil and a sheltered position, such as the foot of a warm wall, in full sun. Alternatively, grow the bulbs singly in 15cm (6in) pots of compost in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Outdoors, lift the bulbs in mid autumn as the foliage dies down; store in a frost-free place during winter.
Detach offset bulbs when the plants are lifted and grow on in 7.5cm (3in) pots of compost. They should reach flowering size in a couple of years.
Pests and diseases
Slugs and snails eat holes in the leaves.