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10.11.07

Pineapple Lily Bulbs

Pineapple Lily BulbsSince 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.

9 comments:

  1. Hi Mrs Brown thumb,
    Great advise on your posts about looking after bulbs and preparing the amaryllis. Good luck with the lottery I think an Urban farm would be a great idea, the way we are going all farms could end up being urban as we sprawl our way ever outwards.

    Cheers Mark

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  2. I've got some pineapple lilies that I've had for 8 or 9 years, successfully overwintering them like you've done. I used to overwinter them in the pot they grew in, but have found there isn't room for that big pot in the garage anymore. So it goes under a tarp outside and the bulbs end up in my garage in a bag (after they've dried out).

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  3. What an interesting plant! I'll look for it when I go bulb hunting in January.

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  4. I'll have to see if I can find some pineapple lilies for next year. I guess you could say "Don't judge a plant by its bulb"

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  5. So much information! I really enjoy your posts. And to think all of this in Chicago. I lived there until we moved to Wisconsin. Plants get colder here, but they have lots of room.

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  6. Hey Mr. BT,
    How are you? Hope you're having a great week! I've never seen a pineapple lily. My amaryllis from last Christmas is about a foot tall. I have a question...do you fertilize them? See you soon, Chris

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  7. lol @ mark

    @Carol

    Have you gotten many offsets? Two years and none for me though I have one bulb that has two stalks growing out the center but it doesn't look like a traditional offset to me.

    @Wicked

    The cheapest place I found them at was Wal-Mart last year. If you're not opposed to shopping there check their summer bulbs selection in the spring.

    @Crafty

    You're right they're ugly but the flowers are pretty cool.

    @barbara

    Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    @Chris,

    Thanks for visiting. I fertilize them after they flower and stop about September/October if you're forcing. The flower you get now will be because of the fertilizing you did after it had already flowered. Fertilizing now doesn't do anything for the current flower that's all powered by last years fertilizing.

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  8. Im new to the pineapple lily and I hope my bulbs will be ok -I dug them up and cut all the green off and they are sitting and drying but come spring will they grow again since I did cut them back

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    Replies
    1. Thomas, your pineapple lily bulbs should be OK come spring. Keep them cool and dry and they should be ready to break dormancy in the spring.

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