Voodoo Lily Care: Tips On Growing The Voodoo Plant

The Voodoo lily (Sauromatum) is an interesting plant native to tropical regions, including parts of Africa and Asia.

Sauromatum venosum, is known for its unique appearance and the unpleasant odor produced by the flowers, which typically last less than a day.

Voodoo lily [Sauromatum_venosum] up closePin
Dinesh Valke from Thane, India [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sauromatum pronounced [saw-ROH-muh-tum] means “lizard.” This genus of plants is part of the Araceae family, which includes:

If you’re not familiar with the spadix, it’s a type of inflorescence often partially enclosed in a specialized leaf stalk called the bract.

Tip’s On Caring For The Voodoo Lily

Where Does Sauromatum Grow?

The plant produces a narrow flower stalk, typically measuring no more than one-inch thick. However, it can quickly reach up to three feet in height.

Sauromatum is native to tropical regions and recommended for USDA hardiness zones  8 to 10.

The USDA hardiness zone 7a is the coldest climate this plant will survive in. If you live in a northern state, you may have trouble growing this plant unless you have a greenhouse.

The inside of the flower stalk has a unique violet and yellow pattern. As the stalk grows, mottled black and green leaves begin to grow.

What Does The Voodoo Flower Look Like and Does it Have Any Fragrance?

The bunch of flowers that grow from the Sauromatum is the most interesting aspect of this plant.


The tall, dark flower blooms quickly and doesn’t last long. They typically bloom from April to May and have a maroon and lime green color.

There are even some cases where the flowers arrive in full bloom. However, they may only last a few hours or up to a day.

During the bloom is when you’ll notice the distinct smell of this unusual plant. The putrid fragrance is intended to attract pollinators.

After blooming, the flowers start producing heat. This heat causes the flowers to fall.

NOTE: If you get the chance, try placing your hand over the flower. You should feel the heat waves.

What is the Best Light and Temperature For Growing Voodoo Lilies?

The Sauromatum doesn’t need a lot of light. It grows best in partial shade to full shade. This makes it suitable for the back parts of your garden that may not get as much light.

As it is a tropical plant, the preferred temperatures are warm and humid. As mentioned, the coldest USDA hardiness zone is 7a, which is a moderate climate.

If you get snow in the winter, you probably can’t easily grow the Sauromatum in your garden. However, you may try growing it in a greenhouse.

How Do You Water and Fertilize Voodoo Plants?

To keep your Sauromatum growing, you need to water it regularly. These plants require medium watering, which means that you shouldn’t let it dry out. However, you also need to avoid over-watering.

It is an easy plant to grow, whether you plant it in the soil or a container. To keep it fed, check it daily, and add water if the soil doesn’t feel too moist.

Fertilizing shouldn’t be needed, as this is a hardy species. Simply keep an eye on the growth. If you do choose to use fertilizer, use it lightly and avoid heavy application.

Tips For Soil Type and Transplanting

You should use soil with good drainage. If you’re planting it in a container, you should use a container with at least a three-gallon capacity.

NOTE: When growing the plant in a container, you should remove the voodoo lily bulbs during the winter.

If you plant the Sauromatum outdoors, keep the soil moist, and ensure that it drains well.

Do Voodoo Lily Plants Require Any Special Grooming?

Grooming is not necessary. The plant does not produce a lot of leaves. In fact, it mostly grows one large shoot that produces the inflorescences.

After the flowers fall, you may want to sweep them up. Other than this one task, you shouldn’t need to worry about grooming.

How to Propagate Sauromatum

The easiest method for propagating the Sauromatum is to remove the berries that are produced by the plant. The berries contain seeds.

However, the berries also contain chemicals that prevent germination. You need to remove the seeds from the berries and allow them to dry.

What Pest or Disease Problems Does The Voodoo Lily Encounter?

There are no major threats to this hardy plant. While it attracts insects with its foul odor, infestations are not an issue.

Diseases are also rare. However, poor drainage may cause the roots to rot and grow mold.

What Are the Most Popular Voodoo Plant Varieties?

The genus Sauromatum does not include many different species. However, the Sauromatum Venosum is the most commonly grown. This is the species known as the voodoo lily.

While there are a few other species, they are rarely grown and difficult to find, especially outside of the native regions where these plants are found.

The Best Uses For Voodoo Lilies Indoors or Out

The Sauromatum is often grown as an ornamental plant. However, you should avoid planting it indoors.

The flowers produce a putrid fragrance that is designed to attract pollinators, such as flies. While the flowers only last for up to a day, the plant can still attract flies into your home.

While it is not suited for indoor growing, it is a great choice for flower beds for those who want a conversation piece in their garden.

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