Hothouse evergreen bulbs bearing beautiful, fragrant flowers, which either cut as stalks bearing four or five flowers or as single flowers, are invaluable to the florist. Their white, star-shaped, elegant flowers are admired by all, but are not seen in quantity, as they should be. In Europe they figure most prominently in all the cut flower markets, but in this country I have not heard of their being grown systematically in large quantities anywhere, and I believe there is a great opportunity for their cultivation, for as long as designs of Flowers are used (and they will always be to some extent) there is no flower more beautiful for the purpose than the eucharis. There is scarcely a plant grown of which you hear so often the same remark made, and it is this: "Yes, a grand plant. I wish I knew how to make to flower." Or, "I don't have any luck with it. It grows, but don't flower."
There are several species, all wanting the same treatment. E. grandiflora, so generally called Amazonica, is the fine species we all know, bearing an umbel of four to six flowers four to five inches across on stout, erect stems eighteen inches to two feet high. E. Sanderiana is somewhat smaller and the throat or tube of the flower is yellow. E. Candida is also pure white, bearing seven to ten flowers on one stalk, but not so large a flower as Amazonica. I would advise the beginner to try the cultivation of the latter, as it is the handsomest of all.
Good authorities say the eucharis should have an abundance of water at all times. South American travelers and collectors have also told me that they have walked over arid plains in the dry season with scarcely a sign of vegetation and returned in six months over the same ground and found it covered with the leaves and flowers of eucharis, a gorgeous sight. This does not agree, and we have seen the bulbs dried off considerably, and when potted up send up flower stalks. But drying off as you would a hyacinth or tulip is certainly not advisable or anything approaching it.
The bulbs multiply readily by sending out offshoots, and when once you have a few healthy plants your stock is easily increased. As the plant is from New Granada, a warm house is needed at all times; 60 to 65 degrees is the lowest they should be at any time. Disturbing of the bulbs and roots must be avoided or you will not get flowers. If established in a pot from 8-inch to 12-inch, or on a bench in six inches of good soil, feed them when making their growth of leaves, but don't disturb the roots for four or five years. At most times of the year they undoubtedly want lots of water, so drainage in the pot and opportunity on the bench for water to pass freely away is of great importance.
The soil should be a good rough loam with one-fifth of well-decayed cow manure. As the soil is to remain undisturbed for several years, add a tenth of broken up charcoal to the compost; it will help to keep the soil porous. If you receive the bulbs dormant, plant three in an 8-inch pot or five in a 10-inch, the top of bulb two inches below the surface. If on a bench plant six inches apart in the row and the rows eight inches apart.
The principal object to observe is this: Supposing an established plant has been growing freely for two months and making a fine lot of leaves. If you continue giving it water freely it will continue to make its handsome leaves and no flowers, but if you shorten up the supply of water and keep the plants rather dry, not by any means dry enough to show any effects on the leaf, then flower leads will be formed in the bulb instead of leaves, and after a rest of two months apply again an abundance of water and up will come the flower stalks. After flowering give them only a very short rest and top dress and start again for another two or three months' growth. Remember that in cultivation whatever their native conditions may be a rest is only a lessening of the water, not a drying off, and their foliage should not suffer at any time.
We have all heard English gardeners say that they could produce three crops of flowers in twelve months. Possibly so. Two crops will do very well. I will just add that two years ago I saw exhibited at Toronto's great fair in September a plant of E. Amazonica in an 8-inch pot that had nine flower stalks bearing a total of thirty-three flowers and buds; so it can be done, and is worth while.
Bench of Eucharis Grandiflora.
Mealy bug often bothers the leaves. As the plants want and thrive with any amount of syringing, there is little excuse for that. Here is a plant that when growing should never be watered with our hydrant water, which is too often near ice water. The water in winter should be 60 degrees always. This, I believe, is a valuable point in their culture.