Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's no secret that I'm a plant nut. I wouldn't be on here doing all of this blogging if I wasn't! I'm particularly interested in variegated plants and thought I'd share one of my absolute favorites with you. Eucharis, commonly known as Amazon lily, isn't all that rare in its own right, but about a year ago, a good friend and fellow plant geek shared with me an extremely rare variegated form of the plant that I have never seen elsewhere. As a matter of fact, if you try to "Google" it (odd how that word has become a verb, huh?), you'll come up empty-handed! I didn't think there was anything that Google didn't know!

You'll see in the photograph at the right that this form has longitudinal stripes running through the leaves, sometimes narrow and other times taking up large sections of the leaf. Every leaf is different and adds all kinds of character and charm to the plant. At one year old, the mother plant has now been potted into an 8-inch clay pot and actually fills it out quite nicely. In addition, I have three babies, all of which are variegated just like mom and are growing nicely.

Another unusual aspect of this plant is that each new leaf is actually green when it first unfurls and the variegation develops as the leaf ages. The older the leaf, the brighter the variegation becomes. The color of the variegation is also affected by the amount of light the plant gets. In full shade, the color remains a more muted yellow-on-green, but with just a little morning sun, the variegation brightens up to a creamy white. Because the variegation develops in stages, the leaves appear in all three colors on the same plant--the newest ones in the center of the plant being almost solid green, the middle leaves being green and yellow and the oldest leaves showing the creamy white variegation.

Flowering occurs in spring and early summer with the large white flowers typically borne in pairs atop a long stalk that may reach 18" or so tall. I do let the plant rest slightly in winter, putting it in a cooler location (not cold) and letting it dry out just slightly between waterings (I never let it get dry to the point of losing leaves--it's evergreen and doesn't need to go dormant).

There are about 30 or so species of Eucharis, all told, and most of them make good subjects for houseplants. Eucharis amazonica and the hybrid Eucharis x grandiflora will be the two most commonly available. They're tolerant of low light and some degree of neglect and will still reward you with beautiful foliage and flowers. Take a moment to search a few out on the internet and see what this beautiful group of plants has to offer. You'll be glad you did!


Brenda@View From The Pines said...

It so reminds me of a ginger plant I have in the shade garden.

George Africa said...

Hello Troy;

I've had a large pot of Eucharis for years now and it blooms several times a year. I was hoping it might bloom close to Thanksgiving this year but it just finished up this week.

If you ever locate a source for the variegated one you have, I'm interested. The grandiflorum I have is pretty basic until it blooms and then it gets lots of attention!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm