Eucomis (pineapple flowers) may look exotic, with their blooms being crowned by a tuft of leaves, but they are, in fact, quite easy to grow. Try them in containers on the patio and in the conservatory, or a sunny border in the garden.
Frost-hardy pineapple flowers can be grown outdoors in the southern parts of the UK, but in other areas, grow them in containers and move to a sheltered position when the weather cools.
Planting in the garden
Plant bulbs 15cm (6in) deep to help prevent frost damage, in fertile, well-drained soil, in full sun. Avoid shady areas of the garden, but also make sure that the pineapple flower won’t be shaded by other plants as they grow. Excessive shade will reduce the flowering.
Keep plants well watered during the growing season (April to early October). Don’t let them dry out, as you won’t get such a good flowering display.
Each spring, top-dress with a general fertiliser, such as Growmore or fish, blood and bone at 50-70g per square metre (1½-2oz per square yard).
Growing in containers
Plant in a wide, shallow pan, if possible. A normal-shape flower pot will do, but is less stable when the bulbs are fully grown. Use a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No.3, with added sharp sand or horticultural grit to improve the drainage.
Allow at least 7.5cm (3in) between bulbs, but up to 15cm (6in) will still produce a striking display. Make sure that the top of the bulb is just below soil’s surface.
Just like plants in the garden, keep well watered during the growing season (April to early October) and apply a balanced, liquid-feed fortnightly.
In winter, protect the bulbs in the garden with a layer, about 10cm (4in) thick, of dry mulch, such as bark or leafmould. Alternatively, lift the bulbs, dry them off and store in a frost-free place, such as a greenhouse or shed.
Containers can be brought into a frost-free place in October. You can allow the compost to dry out and the bulbs will become dormant. Remove all the dry and yellowed foliage. Begin watering again in late March or April.