This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There cannot be too much said in praise of this charming and almost ever-flowering stove plant. It is a plant universally known, and is found in almost every private and commercial establishment. I am sorry to say that it is in most cases existing under extreme difficulties, and it is a great rarity to find a truly fine specimen. The plants as usually seen are from three to six bulbs in a pot; sometimes in the greenhouse, and sometimes in some nook or corner in the stove. Neglected, which in many cases I find it is, how can it be supposed that under such treatment it can thrive?
This truly magnificent plant can be had in flower almost any month in the year, with a little good management and care, and a moderately good stock of plants.
The Eucharis grandiflora, commonly known as Eucharis Amazonica, is a native of New Grenada, found growing on the banks of the tributaries and rivulets of that gigantic river Amazon, from which it derives its name.
The Eucharis grandiflora belongs to the Ama-ryllidaceae, and, like most of its family, it requires a season of rest, which every practical gardener thoroughly understands. When I say a season of rest, I do not mean a thorough drying of the plants, although I have seen some specimens treated in this way with results highly favorable. I have succeeded well with my plants by resting them about eight or ten weeks every year, giving them a little water occasionally to keep the bulbs plump. I have also seen some very fine plants that have been kept growing all the time. This system I am not an advocate of, as the plants are very apt to flower when they are not required.
The Eucharis, in its growing season, delights in a warm and moist atmosphere, and an abundance of water. When the bulbs have matured their growth, they should be put into a house of say ten to fifteen degrees lower temperature, and here they should be gradually rested. After the resting period is over, they should be brought into heat, commencing at 60°, raising to 65°, and so on, in accordance with the heat required by a stove plant. Under this treatment they can be had in flower almost when desired.
It would pay our florists to set up a structure on purpose for growing and flowering the Eucharis, because it can be had in bloom when flowers are most valuable-at Christmas and the holiday season. A leading nurseryman says the price brought for Eucharis flowers is fifty dollars per hundred, wholesale, being twice the price of White Camellias.
The most successful mode of growing them I ever saw, was in a place in the North of England. The little house where they grew was once a cucumber house and was span roofed, and was about thirty feet long and twelve or fourteen feet wide. There was a walk in the middle and a bed on each side, heated with hot water: two pipes ran the length of each bed, and through to another house connected by valves. There were four pipes along the walk, also connected with the other house, and each bed was filled with cocoanut fiber. The Eucharis' were brought in a few plants at a time, and plunged in the fiber. This treatment, with the gentle bottom heat, and the healthy under moisture seemed to act like magic, and soon repaid the trouble. There were a few very fine specimens produced; one, I particularly remember, had on it at the time over forty flower spikes.
If Eucharis' are to flower at Christmas, the plants should be potted in May, then put in their house, and keep them growing all the summer months, supplying them with plenty of water, and syringing them three times a day. This treatment should be followed up from May until the end of August or beginning of September, when the temperature, as well as the watering and syringing, should be gradually reduced. During the summer months they require proper shading, the effects of the sun being very injurious to the soft green leaves. At this time it would be highly beneficial to the plants, if they were put out of doors for about two or three weeks, shaded from the direct rays of the sun and also from rains, and placed on pieces of slate or boards to keep the worms from working their way into the pots.
About the first or second week of November, I would bring them into the house and plunge some of the pots in cocoanut fiber. Some should be stood on top of the fiber. Commence watering and syringing, keeping the house humid, at about 60°, gradually rising to about 70° or 75°.
The Eucharis thrives best in soil composed of good rough turfy loam, a small quantity of peat, leafmould, and sand, and a moderate quantity of cow manure. It is also most essential to have the pots well drained.
When the Eucharis' are in flower they should be placed in a little colder atmosphere, which will make the flowers last much longer.
Mealy bugs and black thrips are the chief insect pests to the Eucharis, and these must be sponged off when they make their appearance.