Pineapple lily, also known as King's Flower (Eucomis bicolor), produces an unusual flower that tends to become the focal point of the bulb garden. As its name suggests, the plant resembles a pineapple, giving a tropical feel to almost any gardening space. Pineapple lily grows well in containers, giving most gardeners a chance to enjoy the plant's unique attributes.
Growing up to 2 feet in height, pineapple lilies originated in the tropical areas of South Africa. The lilies feature strap-like leaves and long, erect stems that sport clusters of greenish-white flowers shaped like stars. On top of the flowers, a rosette of leaves appears, giving the plant the appearance of a pineapple.
A variety of pineapple lilies gives gardeners plenty of choices for their gardens. One lily, Eucomis autumnalis, grows on rocky, grassy slopes where it produces white to greenish flowers that bloom from summer to fall. Another variety, Eucomis autumnalis ssp. Autumnalis, features leaves that feel like rubber and white or green flowers on spikes. One of the smallest pineapple lilies, Eucomis autumnalis ssp. Clavata, grows to less than a foot in height with wavy leaves and creamy green flowers tightly packed on a short stem.
Pineapple lilies prefer well-drained soil with plenty of organic material in hardiness zones 8 to 10. After all danger of frost passes, plant the bulbs 5 to 6 inches deep and 1 inch apart in areas that receive full sun to partial shade. Consider planting the bulbs in a warm, south-facing area to give them all the sun and heat they need. Adding a layer of mulch helps retain moisture.
Once the bulbs start growing, they require little care except regular water. After the flowers die back in the fall, consider digging up the bulbs in areas where a freeze might occur and storing them in a cool place until spring. Otherwise, cover the bulbs with a deep layer of evergreen boughs or hay topped with heavy plastic to help the bulbs survive a rainy winter.
Two varieties of pineapple lilies, Eucomis regia, E. zambesiaca and E.vandermewei, grow best in containers thanks to their smaller size and less frost-hardy characteristics. Plant the tips of the bulbs just below the surface of the soil, then water thoroughly. Continue to regularly water the plant to keep the soil moist. If cold weather prevails, protect the plant by bringing it indoors or putting it in a warm, sheltered area. Once pineapple lily finishes flowering, start withholding water to let the leaves die back. Store the bulbs in the containers in a dry, cool, frost-free location until the following spring.