Crop Culture Report: Eucomis ‘Aloha Lily Leia’ By Nicole Massey-Pratt

With extended shelf life and a spectacular display, this new variety will delight growers, retailers and consumers alike.

Golden State Bulb Growers Inc. (GSBG) continues to further earn their reputation as a market leader in bulb/tuber production with the recent release of the first of several new eucomis species hybrids. Also known as the Pineapple Lily or King’s Flower, ‘Aloha Lily Leia’ is an early- to late-summer bloomer, making it the perfect choice for late winter and early spring seasonal sales. With minimal input, limited production requirements, extended shelf life (i.e. eight to 10 weeks) and a spectacular display, ‘Aloha Lily Leia’ also delights both growers and retailers when it comes to profit margins.

Sporting the essence of the tropics, the naturally compact architecture and bright green foliages of the ‘Aloha Lily Leia’ are perfectly adorned by four to six spectacular pineapple-shaped spikes hosting hundreds of small hot pink florets. Bulbs may be planted early without the worry of frost, as they maintain a hardiness that is able to withstand minimum temperatures of 10° F. Production is ideal in USDA Zones 7 thru 11.

Traditionally well known for being a naturalizing landscape or border plant item, this little beauty is gaining popularity as a potted and cut flower product. Once established, this plant is capable of vigorously returning year-after-year.

Starting in the later part of 2012, expect to see additional varieties offered by GSBG in exciting new complementary color
selections, which will be categorized by stature and architect.

Crop Scheduling & Timing

Available from mid-February thru August, ‘Aloha Lily Leia’s’ dry sales product is available for Easter and Mother’s Day holiday sales. Grower product maintains perfect timing for summer/fall holiday sales. Efforts are being made by GSBG to extend grower product sales season to include key holidays (i.e. Easter and Mother’s Day).

Temperature, Light and Humidity

‘Aloha Lily Leia’ performs well in a wide range of light conditions from 5,000 to 10,000 foot-candles. Higher light can even be tolerated during humid & cool periods. Preferring full sunlight, which naturally dwarfs and produces durability in growth, partial shade is also acceptable when temperatures regularly exceed 85° F.

Tolerating a wide range of temperatures, high heat paired with humidity is not a problem. Brief temperature control during germination can improve uniformity of emergence and vigor by maintaining a flat 68 to 70° F for just 10 days. To achieve optimum conditions during the growth period, temperatures should be maintained at 60 to 85° F. Severe heat and heat spikes will significantly impact quality.

Moderate to high humidity is beneficial and welcomed.

Water Management

Keeping the plant consistently moist, not soggy, from planting until peak bloom is critical.

Fertility and Nutritional Supplements

‘Aloha Lily ‘Leia’ is a low-to-moderate feeder. Begin with a 30-day pre-plant treatment of nitrogen and potassium in the media to assist with early establishment of roots and improve vigor. Overfertilizing will result in bushy plants and/or slight tip burn.

After planting, bulbs must receive a cocktail drench as specified by GSBG cultural recommendations. At three to four weeks, apply a 50 to 75 ppm weekly using 20-10-20+ minors. Reduce this ‘constant feed’ to 25-50 ppm alternate 1:1 with clear water to avoid excessive leafiness. Depending on the final objective, the use of a lower phosphorous fertilizer (i.e. 17-5-17) can result in better plant balance. Regular leaching cycles will be needed to avoid salt accumulation at the leaf-tips. Nutritional supplements of potassium silicate
will increase disease resistance, foster stronger stem and tougher leaves. Apply Pro-Tekt at 50 to 100 ppm using 8.5 to 17 ounces per 100 gallons (67 to 134 ml/100L) constant feed.

Plant Growth Regulators

Many factors affect growth and final outcome of the plant. Appropriate crop scheduling and optimizing cultural inputs can minimize or eliminate the need for plant growth regulators (PGR) during growth period.

While it is unnecessary to apply PGsR during growth period, it has been proven that post harvest Bonzi treatments will enhance postharvest shelf life to five to six weeks indoors and eight to 10 weeks outdoors. Drenching should be done one to two days after watering to ensure uniformity in soil moisture and when a single ‘top-knot’ of flower is visible deep within the rosette of leaves. Apply drench at approximately 0.5 to 0.75 inch diameters. Application varies according to region and growing conditions.

Pest and Disease Prevention & Control

‘Aloha Lily ‘Leia’ is naturally resistant to soil-borne diseases. Despite this, GSBG hand inspects and pretreats with a pre-cautionary proprietary ‘cocktail’ solution prior to shipping to provide a first line of defense against soil born diseases and to ensure quality.

Marketing & Post Harvest

Producing a brilliant first flush of flowers all at once, the ‘Aloha Lily Leia’ plants should be selected for shipping when the first row of florets begins to open. The optimal shipping duration should not exceed a week and temperatures should range between 38 to 45° F during transit.

Nicole Massey-Pratt

Nicole Massey-Pratt handles sales and marketing for Golden State Bulb Growers. She can be reached at [email protected] or 831.728.0500 ext. 255.

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