I do like bulbous plants, and it helps that so many originate from Southern Africa and I have a chance to work with them. Growing these plants from seed to flower is generally a two to three year project, so a lot of patience is required. Behind the scenes we are growing our own Pineapple Lilies. These are not true Pineapples but unrelated plants that bizarrely have flowers that resemble pineapples, hence their name.
Plenty of gardens contain Eucomis comosa, especially a dark-leaved variety Sparkling Burgundy. A lovely plant, but does not flower true from seed, so has to be grown from bulbs or leaf cuttings..
My favourite is Eucomis bicolor, a perfect height for the edge of a dry or gravel garden, with lovely bi-coloured flowers. The flowers stay on the plant all summer and well into autumn (still flowering in November) and they are little effort once established in the garden. Plants grow best in warmer or sheltered UK gardens, but survive in most gardens if mulched over winter or the bulbs can be lifted in autumn and replanted in spring. The plants grow wild in the Drakensberg Mountains of Southern Africa, which can be cold and damp, and this explains why they adapt well to life in the UK.
Below is a photo of one of our seedlings, now one year old in late autumn. They will die down over winter and emerge in the spring and I am hopeful a few may flower in their second season. More likely it will be another year after that before most bulbs are large enough to flower.
Next year, I will try leaf cuttings, which are done in the summer. It is something we are getting better at, having used them successfully for Peperomia house plants earlier this year, so feel this is worth a try. Plants can also be propagated by growing on small bulbs or offsets that form alongside the adult bulbs. These can be separated when the plant is dormant in the winter/early spring, and grown on in pots. These are easy to do, but also take about three years to reach flowering size.
One year-old seedling
Adult plants in flower
See more on buying, sowing and growing Pineapple Lilies.