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Eucharis is a genus of almost 20 bulbous plants in the Amaryllidaceae, or Amaryllis, family. Two types are grown horticulturally. Both are known as the Amazon lily, although they originate from rainforests in the Peruvian and Columbian Andes, and not from the Amazon region. These perennials are known for their striking white flowers and green foliage. They are grown as flowering and foliage plants in tropical shade gardens, and as houseplants in cooler climates.
A hybrid and the species Eucharis amazonica, also known as Eucharis grandiflora, are the sole plants from this genus that are commonly grown. This relative of the Amaryllis plant is quite demanding in its cultural requirements. It requires precise conditions to flower, but is considered highly attractive when it does bloom. The white blossoms are produced in a nodding cluster resembling daffodil flowers at the end of a two foot (0.6m) long stalk. Its leaves are easily burned by the sun, so eucharis is grown in the shade.
To get the plants to flower, they must be kept for at least a month at 80-85°F (26.7-29.4°C). Then they require temperatures of at least 14°F (-10°C) lower. After being kept at these lower temperatures for three months, eucharis should bloom. It is important that the temperatures be kept consistent or the plants may not produce flowers. The Amazon lily can be brought into bloom twice a year, if the soil is allowed to dry out for a month after the plants have finished flowering.
In the U.S., only two states are warm enough to grow this flowering plant outdoors. The Amazon lily is very sensitive to lower temperatures and does not survive freezing. It can be grown in southernmost Florida and coastal California, along with southern California’s border with Arizona. In these climates, eucharis is typically grown both for its flowers and as a groundcover.
The leaves grow to be two feet (0.6 m) high, like the flower stalk. Bulbs should be planted 1.5 to 2 feet (0.45 to 0.6 m) apart. The plants spread 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m). If planted in pots, one bulb should be planted per six-inch (15 cm) pot and covered with one inch (2.5 cm) of soil.
Eucharis prefers moist soil that is rich in organic matter. It is tolerant of clay and acidic soils, but has a low tolerance for salt. This plant is generally resistant to pests, but is susceptible to attack by snails. If they are present in the area, it is important to bait for them. Snails can quickly destroy an Amazon lily plant.
These plants should be kept on the dry side over the winter. There are two benefits to this. One is that the bulbs are less likely to rot in the cooler temperatures. The other is that the reduction in water helps to induce flowering during the following season. Eucharis produces the most flowers when left to grow in clumps, both in pots and outdoors.
Amazon lilies are usually under-utilized plants for tropical gardens and indoor bulb collections. The white flowers are recommended as being particularly attractive when grown against hosta foliage. If grown in an area prone to frost, they can be grown in pots and brought inside as the temperature begins to cool in the autumn.