by Mark Hooten, the Garden Doc
About the Author
Mark Hooten has been fascinated by horticulture since childhood, with interests including tropical fruits, cacti, ethnobotany, entheogens, and variegates. Having been employed in both FL and CA by botanical gardens and specialist nurseries as horticulturist, manager, propagator, and consultant, he is happy to speak with fellow plant worshipers at TopTropicals Nursery. Mark is currently busy writing a volume on the complicated history of croton varieties. His passions are plants, cats, and art of painting.
Question: I'm hoping you can recommend a lush looking houseplant which will be happy in an otherwise bright "sun room" which receives only a little actual sunlight. Something that looks tropical and exotic, and maybe even makes flowers which are fragrant?
Answer: Perfect timing because at this moment, my much beloved Amazon Lily (Eucharis grandiflora) is currently flowering spectacularly! I've had this particular plant for nearly twenty years, and it's one of my absolute favorites. As an indoor plant in average conditions (say where a Philodendron would be happy), I have to consider the Amazon Lily as one of the very finest. Its broad shiny leaves are evergreen and very attractive. Attractive enough that I've even seen just the leaves imported from Central America for use as florist's greens. Also, at-least twice a year, they produce tall elegant flower spikes looking like extra large Narcissus and which produce a powerful, wonderful fragrance, which my wife Susie insists smell like Ivory soap.
Amazon Lily originates from the Amazon Basin as the name suggests, and is scientifically interesting because no specimen has ever been known to produce seed, even when supposedly different clones are cross-pollinated. It is thought by some that maybe there really is only one original clone, perhaps a hybrid of unknown origin, which has for millennia been vegetatively propagated from division. These plants, like other members of the Amaryllis family, grow from perennial bulbs which slowly but methodically make pups around themselves and develop into tight clumps. Best of all, this is one of the very few plants I can remember that I have never found being attacked by any kind of insect pest. In fact, if I were to have only a single spectacular houseplant, this might very well be the one. Concerning shade loving awesome houseplants, the Amazon Lily is about as good as it gets.