Neither a pineapple nor a lily (the genus Eucomis is a member of the asparagus family), the bold foliage and frilly blooms of the pineapple lily add a tropical flair to borders, decks, and patios. The bulbs of pineapple lilies take a few weeks to get going when the weather warms up, but the broad, strap-shape leaves look handsome while you wait, and some even have a burgundy tint. As the flower stalks form, the tiny, star-like blooms open in a cylindrical raceme from the bottom up, and finally develop a little crown of leafy bracts on top, like the feathers on a cap. These long-lasting blooms make a good cut flower, save for one feature: they have a distinct odor designed to attract pollinating flies.
Plant them in late spring, after evening temperatures have warmed and all danger of frost has passed.
|Common Name||Pineapple lily, pineapple flower|
|Botanical Name||Eucomis spp.|
|Plant Type||Perennial, annual, bulb|
|Mature Size||18-36 in. tall, 18-24 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Flower Color||Green, purple, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||7-10 (USDA)|
Pineapple Lily Care
Although pineapple lilies look exotic and fussy, they are no more difficult to grow than other summer flowering bulbs like gladiolus. Good drainage is central to maintaining healthy pineapple lilies, as they are native to the coarse soils of South Africa.
Start with large bulbs, which will produce multiple flower stalks on unusual, burgundy-speckled stems. When planting in the springtime, bury the bulbs at least 5 inches in the ground to help them overwinter in hardy areas. Even in warm weather, it takes a while for the foliage to emerge, so look for leaves after about a month. You can pot the bulbs indoors a month before your last frost to shorten the wait.
Pineapple lilies grow and bloom best in full sun. In southern gardens, some afternoon shade may help to prevent foliage from browning due to strong sunlight.
Despite their lush, tropical appearance, pineapple lilies are not jungle plants and grow well in rocky soil. Cactus or orchid potting mixes work well, or your own potting mix blend, as long as it drains well.
Water your pineapple lilies when the soil surface feels dry. However, stop watering them in the fall, as keeping the bulbs dry during the winter is essential.
Temperature and Humidity
Pineapple lilies don't grow well in cool weather. Temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit will signal the plants that it's time to grow. Dig your bulbs in the fall to store inside if you live north of zone 7. The plants tolerate all humidity types, as long as the soil itself isn't soggy.
A balanced flower fertilizer every two weeks will help your pineapple lilies grow large and vigorous. Plants that are fertilized are also more likely to produce offsets. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.
Types of Pineapple Lily
Popular pineapple lily species and cultivars or hybrids include:
- Eucomis comosa 'Joy's Purple' with deep purple flowers as well as purple foliage
- Eucomis comosa 'Cornwood' bearing late-season creamy flowers with maroon centers
- Eucomis autumnalis (Autumn pineapple flower) blooming from mid-summer to mid-fall
- 'Aloha Lily', a hybrid dwarf series: 'Lieia' with burgundy flowers, 'Maui' with white flowers, and 'Nani' with soft pink flowers
Pineapple lilies need no pruning when they are actively growing. All plants will enter winter dormancy, even in warm areas, and this is the time to remove dead and dying foliage to tidy up the plants.
Propagating Pineapple Lily
Pineapple lily can be propagated from leaf cuttings. Here is how it's done:
- In mid-summer, if it does not rain, water the plant well the day before taking a cutting. Using a new razor blade or a sharp knife, cut off a large, healthy leaf.
- Cut the leaf into 2- to 3-inch long sections and trim the bottom part of each cutting into the shape of a V so it's easier to insert into the growing medium.
- Dip all the cut ends at the bottom of the cutting in rooting hormone and insert them in a large, flat pot with good drain holes and filled with moistened potting mix. The cut side needs to be completely buried.
- Place the pot in a bright location but away from direct sunlight. Keep it moist but not soggy at all times. When you gently tug on the cuttings and they don't move easily, new roots have formed. Leave the cuttings in the container for a few more weeks until you see new growth before transplanting them in the garden.
How to Grow Pineapple Lily From Seed
You can also collect the shiny black seeds from pineapple lilies when flowering is finished but note that the seeds from cultivars won't produce plants that are identical to the parent. Also, like many plants grown from bulbs, seed growing is the slow-motion way to get blooming plants. Sown in spring, the seeds can take several weeks to germinate, and several years to reach blooming size, therefore using cuttings for propagation is the better method.
Potting and Repotting
Pineapple lilies growing in pots don't need to be planted as deeply as those in the ground; they need to sink only about 3 inches. Plant three to five bulbs in a 12-inch diameter pot. Choose chunky or coarse potting mix and a container with adequate drainage holes. Do not place a dish that collects water under the pot; use pot feet to let water drain away.
Keeping bulbs dry during winter dormancy is important to plant survival. If you have mild but wet winters, you should dig up the bulbs and store them indoors to provide that dry dormancy.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Pineapple lily is not susceptible to any serious diseases or pests. Move containers out of the rain to keep the soil well-drained in wet climates.
How to Get Pineapple Lily to Bloom
If your plant isn't blooming, it could be lack of sunlight. After propagating the plant from cuttings, it can take a couple of years for it to bloom so your new pineapple lily might be simply too young to bloom.
What are good companion plants for pineapple lily?
What is the difference between pineapple lily and bromeliad?
With their strappy leaves and composite of small flowers emerging on a central stalk, the bromeliad bears a resemblance to the pineapple lily. However, the bromeliad is an epiphyte and does not need soil to grow. Bromeliads have a longer blooming time than pineapple lilies, but after blooming, the plant dies. Bromeliads are also very frost sensitive and cannot survive outdoors below zone 10.
Where should I place the pineapple lily in my house?
If you choose to grow this plant in a container, remember that it needs full sun to truly thrive. Make sure to move it around during the day to capture the sunniest spot possible.