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Eucomis: I blame the children.


Don’t get me wrong I love both my girls, but they do exert influences in what grows in my garden long after they have grown up and moved out. Though Victoria came back thanks to Coronavirus and due to her specialism in moths and butterflies I have grown many more British natives than I would normally do. [Weeds to most people!] She is the reason I have Clematis ‘Victoria’ a lovely purple with magenta bar, flower growing through Rosa ‘New Dawn’; and an old rose cultivar ‘La Reine Victoria’. Elizabeth is also represented by Clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’ and Rosa ‘Queen Elizabeth’.

However, over the years, I have gained plants some very welcome others that I wouldn’t normally choose. A variety of crocus and daffodil bulbs welcomed as birthday presents but also Allium moly, yes welcomed initially as I like yellow and once duly planted a nightmare to de-establish. Mother’s Day gifts of primroses, hellebores, ferns all accepted as I knew they were bought with love. As they got older and were less influenced by their dad their choices became a little more eclectic.
A packet duly appeared, held up by two smiling faces. ‘We both really like these mum. Can we plant them?’ I tried hard and smiled, ‘yes of course, lets put them into pots’. Husband raised an eyebrow, knowing that was my code for ‘not keen as I don’t know where they will go and not sure if I like them’ but in they went and I let Nature do its thing. The packet contained 2 bulbs of Eucomis bicolor and it took me a while to explain and convince the girls that they were called Pineapple lilies because they looked like the foliage of a pineapple but they couldn’t eat them.

Eucomos bicolor

What a surprise awaited me, I liked them and various sources said they were hardy/ half hardy/ tender so into the greenhouse the pot went to overwinter: just in case
Next season there were 3 flowers and the pot soon became full so I decided to plant some out in a sheltered part of the garden. They survived there for a good 6 years until the really harsh winter of 2011. In 2015 I was presented with E. autumnalis for my birthday; a white flower and the foliage has a wavy edge. Some went in the garden others into pots to keep the E. bicolor company.

Eucomis autumnalis

I then looked into some of their history. The plant was introduced into Europe in the early 1700’s and they were growing in the Oxford Botanic Garden in 1732 when a German botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius gave a Latin description of the plant. Later in the century they were reclassified as Eucomis by the French botanist L’Heritier. Eucomis – eu meaning good/pleasing and kome meaning hair or tuft, referring to the tuft of leaves that give the plant its common name.
It belongs in the family Asparagaceae, though some classifications put it in the Hyacinthaceae and the RHS designate it as tender/borderline hardy. The genus is also divided into diploid species, having 30 chromosomes and tetraploid species having 60 chromosomes.

They come mainly from regions of South Africa with high summer rainfall and winter dormancy providing it is cool and dry. As long as they have winter dryness, they do well for me here. I have tended to bury the bulbs almost twice as deep than the packets suggest and they continue to survive.

Since the first gifts of E. bicolor and E. autumnalis the girls have added to my collection of pots with E. comosa and another with the label Eucomis ‘Aloha nani’. This later one is one of many hybrids which have been bred In America for their pot plant trade.

Eucomis comosa

Eucomos Aloha nani

Do I blame my children for adding to the pots on the pond wall? Yes of course I do but I do forgive them. It could have been worse eg Agapanthus.

Oh hang on they have bought me those too.

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That was very interesting, I didn't think there were so many different ones.
I tried a bicolor this year but it rotted in the pot before it even grew.
The only one I've got (which hasn't flowered this year) is one called E. vandermerwei 'Octopus'

28 Aug, 2021


That is a nice one Hywel.
There are quite a few varieties now as they are bred together. Sparkling burgundy is one that I think lost its AGM status recently.

Glad you enjoyed the article.

28 Aug, 2021


I've never heard Eucomis Eileen. I've learned something new today. Some of them are very eye catching. Question: Why not Agapanthus? I have that on my shopping list. Now I'm thinking twice.

28 Aug, 2021


No I love my agapanthus, its really about more pots on the pond wall and they are much much bigger plants. I haven't got any of them in the round as they wouldn't fit in with border plantings. When I next revamp a border i will consider them. They are a brilliant plant so if you like them go for it.

28 Aug, 2021



28 Aug, 2021


Very informative blog Eileen. Loving the eucomis varieties. My favourite is the bicolour one at the top. Gorgeous colouring.

28 Aug, 2021


Lovely blog - I have just one Eucomis which has decided to grow almost horizontally! I shall post a pic of it to show you how daft it looks . . . :o(

29 Aug, 2021


I have loved reading your blog,Eileen,and the introduction to Eucomis by your Daughters,:o) ,and all the history,which has been so interesting.You have a lovely collection,and I have never tried to grow one ,so I might just try a variety next year. I may even manage to grow a horizontal one,like Shirley ! oh,that did make me smile ..ha ha .

29 Aug, 2021


Thanks Kate, they are such good doers.
Oh Shirley that did make me smile. I have had a corkscrew one in the past. Should be normal next year.

If you do try them Bloomer go for E bicolor as they are the easiest to get going. They are often sold in Aldi/Lidl/wilkos and Morrisons. I dare say the other supermarkets sell them too and so will GC.

29 Aug, 2021


Thanlk you Eileen,I go to most of those,so no doubt,I shall have no problem finding the one you have suggested :o)

29 Aug, 2021


They look quite exotic - hope the girls were not too disappointed on learning you couldn't eat them...

30 Aug, 2021


I had to buy a real pineapple to appease them haha.

30 Aug, 2021


I too wasn't keen on the Eucomis and when my daughter in law asked if I would like one, I declined! But after seeing yours, I wish I had one now! You have a lovely collection too!

1 Sep, 2021


Some where along the line I missed this blog of yours, SBG! 😞 Reminds me of a couple of bulbs of this plant & some seeds somebody gave me (Can't remember anything more of who it might have been! 🤔)

Like your first one it was a E.bicolor. One of the two bulbs began to grow above soil level but after a couple of months it died, for no apparent reason. The other bulb, which was smaller, never did show up above soil level. The seeds never showed any sign of germination either. So I was quite disappointed in the end! 😞

Just a few days ago I walked past a garden where several of these were planted a few years ago & was reminded of my loss. Just like yours they look so lovely!

21 Sep, 2021


they are pretty arent they. are you going to get some more?

23 Sep, 2021

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