BOTANICAL NAME: Eucharis grandiflora
COMMON NAME: Amazon Lily
Nature never ceases to amaze me with her infinite variety and beauty. This lily is just the most gorgeous thing that can flower up to four times a year.
Since forever, I had mistakenly believed it to be called the Eucharist lily – and, therefore, with biblical connotations which relate to the Last Supper and holy communion – but no. Eucharis comes from the Greek meaning gracious or lovely – and that it certainly is.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? It is a native of western Colombia and Ecuador but widely cultivated as an ornamental throughout the world. It is often confused with Eucharis amazonica, but this has smaller flowers. However, AMAZON LILY is often the common name given to the whole range of plants in this family. Confusing, isn’t it? What is my mantra? If you want to ensure that you are buying the plant you want – stick with the botanic name – it is specific and unique to that plant.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? It is a perennial plant that grows from a bulb with deep green elongated, pointed leaves and a spreading habit. And here is something else I didn’t know about it until I brought it inside – the flowers are very sweetly scented and resemble white daffodils that have fused petals.
WHAT DOES IT NEED? Where a plant comes from tells you all you need to know about where it is going to be happy. Here we have sub-tropics (frost-free), forest understorey (diffused light, moist peaty soil), summer humidity and frost free (minimum 10oC/50oF). So, if you live in a frost prone area and would dearly love to have this plant – grow it in a pot and bring it inside in the winter time.
Letting it dry out a little after flowering can give you four flushes of flowers in a year. Also, feeding it after flowering encourages new growth and helps prevent nutrient deficiencies and fungal diseases – like rust.
I find it pretty pest free – apart from the ubiquitous slugs and snails which love lush, soft leaves like this. One easy solution is to open a can of beer, make the whole a little larger, drink two-thirds of it and bury it half way in the soil tilted sideways – this stops rain falling in (well, mostly). Slugs and snails are attracted to the yeasty smell, slime slide inside and then cant get out. Problem solved.
HOW DO YOU PROPAGATE IT? The Eucharis Lily is part of the large AMARYLLIDACEAE family of bulbs – which has many cousins, including Narcissus, Clivia, Hippeastrums and the whole onion tribe – which makes it very easy to propagate from division of the bulbs. The clump, in the above photo, started with one bulb – so when I say easy – I mean easy. It is on the southern side of the house so only gets a small amount of direct sunlight – perfect for this plant.
EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT CONDITIONS TO GROW THIS OUTSIDE – give it a go as an indoor plant – it’s a stunner!