Friday, August 17, 2012

Eucomis Pole-Evansii

Eucomis pole-evansii blooming in my garden
     There are so many great plants from South Africa and I have highlighted quite a few of them recently.  Eucomis, commonly known as pineapple lilies, are another such great plant.  One species of Eucomis that I particularly like is the one pictured here--Eucomis pole-evansii.  This is the largest of the pineapple lilies, making these large strap like leaves which can be in excess of three feet tall and then having the flowers rise above the leaves for one or two feet.  While you may have noticed that the flowers on this are greenish white,  I forgive this plant this one shortcoming because I like it so much.  Apparently there is a form of this Eucomis which has reddish or pinkish leaves and flowers called Eucomis pole-evansii purpurea (see here), but I have not yet acquired that form of it.  Of course it is on my must have list.
     I first learned about this Eucomis many years ago from Myles Challis' book on Exotic Gardening which I have previously described.  At the time I read about it in his book this plant was not available here.  When I was at Heronswood one day and found that they had some I was very excited and bought quite a few.  At that time it was thought that these bulbs were perhaps tender here, but we have since found out that they are perfectly hardy.  I still have some of those Eucomis that I bought from Heronswood when they first offered them, at least 15 years ago.  By now those bulbs are huge.
     I have grown this Eucomis from seed that I got from Silverhill Seeds and they proved very easy to grow.  Eucomis bulk up quite quickly if they are well watered and fed, so growing them from seed is not such a long term prospect as some other plants grown from seed.  Eucomis can also be propagated from leaf cuttings and that is the way to get more of select cultivars.  Eucomis pole-evansii is now offered by quite a few nurseries which a google search will reveal.
     I have grown this Eucomis in many parts of my garden and I conclude that all Eucomis, including this one are better is full sun because the foliage stands up instead of flopping around if they are in full sun.  They will tolerate some shade, however.  I remember seeing a slide show of Dan Hinkley's once where he showed Eucomis growing wild in South Africa and they were growing out in the open with no tall foliage around to shade them, so that gives you an idea of what conditions they like.
     I grow a number of Eucomis in my front border which is in full sun, is never watered, and which is visited by deer on a daily basis.  They do quite well in those conditions.  I have never had deer eat any of my Eucomis.  Slugs like them, however, so if you grow them where slugs are a problem be sure to bait for them.


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