Early spring surgery….

Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Rosy’, Ist year flowering, Tostat, July 2017

I say this every year, Eucomis comosa bulbs are really worth the price, and give you colour and then flower for almost 6 months before gradually withering away till the next year. They do want some sun, and some water, but preferably a dryish winter. They don’t have to be lifted, providing you give them some protection in periods of hard frost, and you can plant them in a pot and leave them. They do all the heavy lifting themselves.

But….they do gradually reproduce, which is a big tick, and at some point, some surgery will be needed. As you can see, two years and even three years in, all is well and they simply look lush and magnificent. For me, the foliage is the star, a bright crimson for about 3 months and then fading to dark greeny-purple by the time the flowers spikes erupt.

Eucomis ‘Sparkling Rosy’, 2 years later, Tostat, July 2017

So, last year I knew I had missed the surgery boat. They looked fine in the Spring, brilliant points of colour in the back Barn Garden in half sun and some afternoon shade. But by the end of the summer, total collapse had set in and everything had to be propped up till flowering finished. It is also possible that they were getting a bit more rainfall then we had in Tostat, but the likeliest culprit was overcrowding.

Eucomis ‘Sparkling Rosy’, new growth in the Barn Garden, Oloron Sainte Marie, April 2021
Eucomis ‘Sparkling Rosy’, fighting for space, Oloron Sainte Marie, June 2021

So today was the day for the scheduled operation. This is one massive pot, and I only have one partially working shoulder at the moment, so I was being super careful. There was a really good youtube video which I watched, just to confirm that my idea of butchery would be appropriate, thank you so much to Potted Jewels for the video, and I started. The good news was that with a little loosening around the edges, and tipping the pot towards the ground, the giant ‘nest’ came out easily. But it was clear that what had been 3 bulbs in 2017 was now at least a dozen, all pushing and shoving for space. Pulling some of the spent compost away, and, inevitably, a bit of root, I was astonished to find a veritable wormery inside the pot as loads of worms struggled to the surface. So, I decided to spread the spent compost complete with the magnificent worm collection all over the border, why not? Free soil turning and generally a good thing.

Eucomis ‘nest’, Oloron Sainte Marie, March 2022

So, the trusty saw then dealt with the separation of the bulbs. I did try pulling as per the video, but these bulbs clung on determinedly, so the saw just went where it made sense to make divisions.

Weapon of choice and 12 refreshed Eucomis bulbs, Oloron Sainte Marie, March 2022

And there it was, 12 from 3 and, whilst this year, I may have left it a little late to do this, I am hopeful that all will be well very soon. I know that they need space, but this pot is big, so 4 went back in, with fresh compost and handfuls of aquarium grit to loosen the mixture up. Grit as understood by Gardeners World viewers doesn’t really exist in France, so I have also used builders sand, which works fine.

It’s a great return on investment, the Eucomis bulb, and I now have my original big pot (4), plus two biggish pots (3 each) and a smaller pot with 2 and I have the luxury of spreading the glorious colour around the garden. I find that they are fine, kept dryish, even down to a fortnight of -10C two years in a row, and left where they are. Just watch out for too much water in the summer, as they are not big drinkers.

In good shape I hope, Oloron Sainte Marie, March 2022

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