The exotic looking South African pineapple lily can add some razzmatazz to the late summer and autumn borders. The normally strap-shaped leaves, are green through to dark purple. Starry flowers erupt from the centre of this foliage, creamy white to pink, topped with a tuft of leafy bracts, reminiscent of a pineapple. They are hardy, but its worth plant 15cm deep, or growing in a deep pot, to protect against colder winters. Unusually they can be propagated by leaf cuttings.

The flowers of Eucomis are produced in a robust, relatively long-lasting spike and so provide a resource for visiting insects. Given that the flowers have a somewhat unpleasant fleshy smell, they are visited mostly by flies, especially bluebottles and flesh-flies. Why would we want to attract those? Well, without nature's army of disposal agents we would be knee-deep in rotting organic matter, and of course these flies are also food for someone else, from birds to dragonflies.

Potted, but not quite ready for sale, check again soon or register your interest Growing on

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