This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mrs. E., Melrose, Mass., asks: " Will some one familiar with the culture of Eucharis, inform me through the Monthly if it can be grown as a house-plant? I read in a newspaper report of Mr. Tailby's essay before the Mass. Horticultural Society, that he said ' Eucharis were as easily grown as potatoes.' Doesn't that statement need some qualifications? Anybody can grow potatoes - can anybody grow Eucharis? They are so very beautiful, that even if they could be grown with much care, it should be widely known. I have always supposed it needed all the appliances of the hot-house, besides the most skillful treatment, to flower them successfully. If that is so, why does this Mr. Tailby aggravate us with his talk about potatoes? And again, if they are of easy culture, why is not the knowledge spread broadcast before the great world of admiring amateurs? I think an article on this subject would be interesting to a great many readers".
I see, Mr. Editor, in the April number of the Monthly, Mrs. E., Melrose, Mass., asks: "Will some one familiar with the culture of Eucharis, inform me, through the Monthly if it can be grown as a house plant?" Now I do not propose to teach experienced gardeners, nor assume to possess all knowledge in reference to this matter. I will not say what I can do, but what I cannot do with Eucharis - that is I have been trying to flower it in a cool house for the last ten years, and have failed to do so. I have also given plants to other gardeners situated about as myself, with night temperature from 45° to 55°, with 5° or 10° higher by day. Some of these gardeners have said how easy it was to flower, and what little trouble they had with it at some Lords or Dukes in England or Scotland; but out of five or six here in Frederickton, N. B., who have each one or more plants of Eucharis, and have had them the last eight years, some of them, but no flowers to my knowledge. Some three years ago my employer had quite a large pot full of strong bulbs: I divided them, and put three in an 8-inch pot, and thought I should have had quite a success; but alas, like the barren tig tree, nothing but leaves.
But there is one gentleman here who grows them like potatoes; the answer is, he gives them plenty of heat. I understand it grows in Brazil or South America, so that it is at home in a moist humid atmosphere, say from 60° to 70° night, with 5° or 10° higher by day.
Having access to most of the greenhouses here I have an opportunity of seeing what is in bloom. I find in the hothouse of H. Ray, - a subscriber to the Monthly - go when I will, spring, summer, fall or winter, there are more or less Eucharis in bloom, and the leaves are black with richness, so that I have come to the conclusion it is no use bothering with Eucharis if you cannot give it a good moist heat, or a congeuial temperature: this is my simple opinion based upon experience.
In reply to the inquires of Mrs. E., respecting the culture of Eucharis Amazonica as a house plant, from my experience I would say that it is a plant not suitable for that purpose. To flower this plant well it requires judicious treatment. It should be grown in a hothouse until well established, in good peat and loam in equal parts, with one-third of coarse sand well mixed together. When growing should have abundance of water and weak manure water once a week. After making its growth it should be removed to a cool greenhouse for about eight weeks, during which time but little water should be given, and then brought back into the hothouse and treated as before.
This plant is subject to mealy bug, thrip, etc. To keep this pest down use the syringe freely and wash the leaves with weak whale oil soap water. I have seen fine large plants standing in hothouses for several years which for the want of a resting season do not flower well. Good established plants can be brought into flower three times in a year. Where several good plants are grown by the different treatment, they can be had in flower at all seasons of the year. This plant is largely used in the London market for cut bloom, and the market growers get good successions of flowers by growing and resting these plants accordingly.
Two readers of the Monthly ask in the April No. for information respecting this lily.
" Is the Eucharis a bulb, and if so, when is the proper time to plant it?"
Ans. It is a bulb, and may be potted at any time.
"Can it be grown as a house plant.
Ans. Certainly, and that very easily.
"Mr. Tailby in his essay, said, Eucharis were as easily grown as potatoes. Anybody can grow potatoes, can anybody grow Eucharis?"
Ans. Yes, more easily than the farmers have grown potatoes since the ravages of that fearful scourge, the potato bug.
" I have always supposed it needed all the appliances of the hot-house, besides the most skillful treatment".
Ans. It no more requires a hot-house nor skillful management than a geranium. Mine is growing splendidly in my window box with Geraniums, Fuchsias and Heliotrope. It was bedded out all summer under a fruit tree in rather poor soil, so that it did not grow much. It is just as easily cultured as the Calla Lily. If potted in February or March, they will bloom usually in August, and continue to throw up flower spikes for several months. The best compost for them is turfy loam well chopped up, and leaf mould and sand, and a little bottom heat to stimulate rapid growth if desired. They require like the Calla, plenty of water, and flourish best in a somewhat shaded position, i. e. not exposed to intense sunshine.