Eucharis: the Amazon Lily
I can’t remember when I bought this eucharis but it must have been more than five years ago. It as Dutch and had a big, fancy label in it but I can’t now remember if it was a cultivar or not. And besides, these big labels that get stuck in plants are little help and they tend to make up common names or selling names. So, as there is now a handsome flower scape on it I got out my tape measure to find out if it is the wild Eucharis amazonica or the hybrid E. x grandiflora. Because the ‘cup’ is more than 10mm long I can confirm (I hope) that it is Eucharis amazonica a bulb in the Amaryllidaceae, from the forest floors of north east Peru. The fact that it naturally grows in areas with little light mean that, in cultivation, it does not need much sunlight and, being tropical, it is evergreen and makes a good houseplant.
I do remember that the first time I ever saw it was when I was a teenager and went to see a local private Big garden where it was grown under the benches in the orchid houses. Because of its love of shade and hatred of root disturbance it makes a good ground cover for shade if it is warm – oh to love in the tropics!
From a plant with one flower stem and four or five leaves, mine has slowly increased to fill a 25cm pot and has upwards of 50 leaves and looks like a very lush hosta. Being bulbous, the leaves are fleshy but it would make a good substitute for an aspidistra, though not quite as bombproof.
I would suggest that a minimum of 10c is needed in winter. This plant is in the conservatory which can get cold in winter despite the fact that I would rather pay to keep the plants warm than me so it has a storage heater all to itself. It is free from frost though. It faces north so the plant rarely gets direct sun. All the Eucharis amazonica in cultivation is thought to be a single clone, from one collection, and that seed has never been produced in cultivation (re. Pacific Bulb Society). Flowering is triggered by stress, either through chilling or drought and blooming seems pretty random on my plant. But it is very welcome. Up to ten buds are carried on each scape and the buds stand upright as they push through the spathe and then move to the horizontal as they open and the fading flowers hang down – all very elegant. The blooms are about 12cm across and pure white with green bands in the cup. They are pristine and lovely and enhanced by a sweet perfume.
The name ‘eucharis’ is derived from ‘eu’ meaning ‘true’ and ‘charis’ meaning ‘loveliness’.
I would count this, along with clivias, as one of the few essential ‘flowering houseplants’ as opposed to a flowering potplant that you buy and chuck out when it has faded. Like a clivia it will keep getting better year after year and reward your patience and dedication.
Mine hasn’ t flowered for a couple of years, but as you say it has lovely shiny leaves and makes a nice plant even without flowers. I didn’ t realise that flowering is triggered by stress. Oh dear, I had better give it something to worry about then.
LOL. Looking at other sites it seems that witholding water so that the whole thing wilts can be enough to trigger flowering. It is a pretty succulent plant so I dont think that wilting would harm it. The flowers are worth a bit of effort but, as you say, the leaves are worth growing it.
10 c in Winter
Lost me there!
sorry – it needs a minimum of 50 degrees F
As in not able to keep it that warm
ah – I see the problem!