It's A Pineapple! - It's A Lily! - It's A Pineapple Lily!
For a lily plant to be called a Pineapple lily, it must bear some resemblance to the pineapple. That just happens to be the case. The Pineapple lily, of which there are several species, including four common ones, features a bud which very much resembles a tiny pineapple before blossoming. This plant, a native to southern Africa, is easy to grow and may be propagated by several methods. It is not tolerant of freezing weather or frosts, so in many areas the corms are taken out of the soil in the fall and replanted the following spring.
The Pineapple lily (Eucimis comosa), also called the Pineapple flower, has a blossom, made up of a spike of smaller flowers. The spike emerges from a rosette of green foliage. The flowers are creme and green, but can also be pink or purplish in color. The flowers are in all cases topped with a cluster of leaves looking very much like the top of a pineapple. E. comosa is among the tallest of the Pineapple lily plants, attaining a height of well over 6 feet.
Besides E. comosa, the other more common varieties include the variegated E. bicolor, with purple-edged green flowers, growing to a height of around 4 feet. The E. autumnalis features long wavy-edged leaves, a 2 foot spike, and white to greenish bell-shaped flowers. The E pole-evansii is another tall species, probably the tallest. Like E. comosa, the spikes reach well over 6 feet. This species has soft green flowers with creme-colored centers. The top 3 feet of the spike is encircled with the blossoms, and consequently makes a fine specimen plant.
A new variety, E. 155, has resulted from attempts to create a cultivar characterized by low height, compact shape, fragrance and attractive, brightly colored flowers. This cultivar is still quite new, has been patented, and may not yet be available over a wide area. It appears it would be very valuable as either a container plant or a border plant, so you might want to be on the lookout for it.
Most of these species are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10, and do best when planted in full sun. The plant may be propagated by dividing, planting the offsets from bulbs, or planting from seeds. If planting from seeds, the seeds need to dry on the plant before removing them from the pods. A high percentage of the seeds can be expected to germinate, however plants will not produce flowers until the bulb has grown to a full size, which can take from 2 to 5 years.
Bulbs are planted in the spring (in most areas they have to be taken up in the fall), and do not require a great deal of attention. Water as you would most any annual bulb, giving the plant a little more frequent watering as the blooming period approaches. In the winter, the bulbs are stored in a dry place, and watered sparingly if at all. The bulbs will perform best in a rich humus soil, when planted an inch or two below the surface, but no deeper. Like most other plants, the Pineapple lily needs to be placed in well drained soil to perform well. In a container, the neck of the bulb can be allowed to peek above the surface of the soil. When grown in containers, the plants are often not as large as those grown in the garden, but it really is just a matter of what it is you want.
This plant makes an attractive, long-lasting cut flower. About the only cautionary note is that parts of the Pineapple lily are poisonous. Because of their unique characteristics, the plants have a special appeal to children. Who wouldn't be interested in a plant that resembles a tiny pineapple. Good enough to eat? Definitely not!