Since the weather in Chicago was cooperating today I was doing some work in the garden. Mostly I was cleaning up some dead plants and pulling up my tender bulbs for winter storage. I checked on my Pineapple Lily bulbs to see how they were drying and realized that Pineapple Lily bulbs are really ugly. These ugly bulbs don't do the Pineapple Lily flower and seed pods justice. With such pretty flowers I'd expect Pineapple Lilies to have equally attractive bulbs but I guess a nice and fuzzy sheath like a Crocus corm or a shiny and papery skin like a Tulip is too much to ask for.
The Pineapple Lily bulbs have overlapping ridges that are very reptilian in appearance. I guess books can't be judged by their cover and flowers can't be judged by their bulbs. I thought I'd learned everything I need to learn about my Pineapple Lily bulbs by growing them for the past two years but today I realized that there was something that I'd overlooked before.
The bulb on the top was growing in a commercial houseplant soil while the bulb in the bottom was growing in the ground in my garden. Notice how the bulb in the top of the photo has a nice earthy color and the leaves have died back naturally? Now take a look at the bulb in the bottom with the strange coloration and leaves that are still in the process of drying. Even their root system looks different and tells me that one Pineapple Lily was happier than the other. The bulb at the top has a more extensive root system and better developed feeder roots. The roots on the second bulb consist mostly of anchor roots and I wonder how it survived the hot summers.
Actually, I don't have to wonder-I know how it survived the hot summer days. I spent a lot of time hand-watering that Pineapple Lily because it was always wilting in the middle of the day and it was because it wasn't happy in my moisture-poor soil. The funny thing is that both of these bulbs flowered, produced seeds and healthy leaves in spite of the differences. Next year I'll have to do a better job of amending my garden's soil to make sure that I'm giving my plants more of what they need.
If you're storing your Pineapple Lily bulbs for the winter it is perfectly acceptable to leave them the pot they were growing in and keep the pot in a door and dry location. Because of limited space I remove the soil from my bulbs and set them out to dry so I can store them easier. One thing to remember is that you want to make sure your foliage is completely dry before putting your bulbs away because the smell from rotting Pineapple Lily leaves is something horrible. Stand (or hang) your bulbs upside down so that any moisture drips out and allow the leaves of flower stalks to dry to the point where they can be separated from the bulbs by a gentle tug.
related post: How to propagate Pineapple Lily bulbs through leaf cuttings.