The corpse flower, its common name or botanically Amorphophallus is a tuberous rooted plant from the Arum family (Araceae) and native to Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
It is in the same family tree as the calla lily, jack-in-the-pulpit, skunk-cabbage, and many other familiar plants.
Other common names include:
- Voodoo lily
- Snake palm
- Devil’s tongue
- Titan Arum
Amorphophallus plants are a curious tuberous plant usually planted outdoors (potted) in a shade garden or shady border after all danger of frost is past.
Its growing season is from February through September.
The most popular varieties of the 200 or so Amorphophallus species are:
- Amorphophallus titanum
- Amorphophallus konjac – known as the Scared Lily of India
Large Flatish Corpse Flower Tubers
The large, brown and flatish tubers are round underneath with a deep indentation on top (like tuberous begonia or gloxinia tubers).
Around the upper edge is a horny formation from which new plants grow. Mature tubers sometimes measure eight to ten inches across and weigh as much as six pounds.
Smaller, two to three-year-old tubers, will bloom if three inches across.
Planting and Flowering Voodoo Lily Bulbs or Tubers
Plant the tubers in February in a rich, porous soil. Water sparingly until new growth starts, then keep the soil moist.
Large tubers will bloom if set in a bowl or pot without soil, but small tubers must be planted in soil. They grow very fast and bloom in four to six weeks.
You will see a pink “nose” rise from the center of the tuber. This will grow into a stout but hollow scape about two inches around.
This scape or stem is dark green, marbled white or cream, and looks like a large marbled snake; thus, the common name “snake palm.”
It grows sometimes as much as five inches in one day. When the scape is about three feet tall, the large calla lily-like spathe begins to unfold.
It is a beautiful maroon “Calla-lily like flower” with a nine- to ten-inch white and dark purple twisted spadix that arises from the center.
The lower section of the spadix is white and knobby. Each little white knob has a small opening from which a very evil odor ascends.
The odor attracts carrion loving insects which pollinate the flowers to bring about the production of seeds.
If the plant is kept in a cool room, the flowers will last from three to four weeks. Each tuber produces only one lily.
Leaves Of The Amorphophallus Palms
After the flower scape turns yellow and drops off, keep the soil moist and in a short time a new scape will grow from the tuber.
This is the leaf scape and if grown in a good strong light, it will be green marbled cream and pink.
When three to four feet high, it branches out into a palm-like leaf.
From three marbled and rounded large stems, three more leaf stems form near the center of the big palm. This leaf formation looks like a beautiful but most unusual umbrella in the garden.
Preparing Amorphophallus Corpse Flower For Winter
When fall days begin to cool and the nights are chilly, it is time to bring the tubers inside to store for the winter.
If grown in a pot, withhold water and leave the tuber in the pot until spring. Store in a dry temperature not below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.
Too much cold or dampness will cause the tubers to rot.
Fertilizing The Corpse Flower
These plants are heavy feeders. Feed once a month using a well-balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season, the tuber will increase in size and store plenty of food and moisture to start new growth in the spring.
Propagate by offsets growing out of the top of the parent tuber. When the new plant is five or six inches tall, remove from the parent tuber with a sharp knife.
Cover the cut with sulfur to prevent rot. Plant the new plant in a three-inch pot of good sandy loam.