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A Little Voodoo Plant Magic

Last year I told the tale of a peculiar new plant in my post Under the Spell of the Voodoo Plant. If you are unfamiliar with Amorphophallus konjac, you may want to read that post first. This post is to provide an update on what has been happening with the plant since then.

The voodoo lily settled into the new talavera pot I provided and grew well through last summer. Eventually, as fall progressed toward winter, the leaves turned yellow and died, just as I expected. I had to decide whether to leave the bulbs buried in the dirt or whether to dig them up. I didn't want to leave the talavera pot out through the frosts, and I probably could have left the bulbs in the pot when I brought it inside. 

But I decided to dig the bulbs because I wanted to see what they looked like. I was shocked. I had seen photos of mature bulbs, giant globes nearly a foot across. I knew my plant was young, but I had no idea how tiny the bulbs would be. One was little larger than an almond, the other one even smaller.

I brushed loose dirt off the bulbs and placed them in a small paper sack, labeled  so I wouldn't forget them. I put the sack on a shelf in my pantry and left them there through the winter. As spring approached I occasionally took a peek at them. They looked dead. I had read that voodoo bulbs don't need soil or even water to flower and will begin growth in spring, even if stored inside. Since my bulbs are so small, I don't expect them to flower for several years yet, but I was looking for some signs of life before planting them again.

Finally, in April I found a small bump on the largest one. Life! Soon the smaller one had signs of growth, too. I replanted them in the talavera pot and put them in a shady spot in the front garden. 

Nothing happened. By late May I was worried my voodoo lily was dead, after all. Then I remembered that this plant flowers first, then, after the efflorescence dies, sends up a stalk with leaves on top. Because mine wasn't flowering yet, I guessed it was just waiting for the appropriate time to start growing. 

At last in June I saw shoots poking through the earth. I kept them watered well and applied a tomato fertilizer every other week. Here are the results:Each stalk is topped with one large, divided leaf. They remind me of tomato plants.Here's another view. Note the snakeskin pattern to the stalks.

Wait! Take a closer look at that last photo. There is now a third shoot! I read that each bulb produces only one stalk. Could it be one of my tiny bulbs is producing two stalks, or that somehow I now have three bulbs?  I think my plant has performed a little voodoo magic!

And even more importantly, to me and my neighbors and possibly the police, does this mean I will have THREE flowers when they bloom? How lucky could I be? 

You may also enjoy A Southern Garden Party, which is where it all began.

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Reader Comments (20)


July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreggo

Sounds kinda magical to me. Looking forward to the flower. The snake look is awesome, but it would give me the hebejebes if it really feels like flesh.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Such a strange plant and how much fun you have had experimenting with it! I do love that pot!

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

hi Deb, i am glad i popped in here serendipitously i suppose. Hahaha, i am amused at your post. I have a post of this also previous to the present, please look at mine. This plant is very common in our property but i didn't know it is called 'voodoo lily'. Amazing, i wonder where the voodoo term evolved from. That stalk you refer to is actually a part of the leaf or its petiole. The bulb you refer to is not really a bulb like the real lilies have, it is more correctly termed as tubers because it is their underground stem. Isn't it amazing, haha! That storage stem will still get more food before it can be ready for reproduction or produce flowers. When those leaves die out, coinciding with the dry season in their natural habitat (as in our country), they will produce flowers before the leaves. You will be more amazed when the flowers arise. Take comfort and be pre-empted by my photos.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

The ever fascinating Araceae family!
Lovely post.
Wot people who don't care for plants don't get are the nurtering, caring, rejoicing-on-the-return to the fold instincts real gardeners have!
Thanks for this post.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

Nevermind the flowers, they only last for a short while so the scent is bearable :) But look at that lovely foliage, looks great in its pot too!

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

I'm not familiar with this plant at all but have heard the name. Why did you give it tomato fertilizer? Was it a liquid or granuales? It has beautiful leaves. :o) Have you ever checked out the Bustani Plant Farm website? They are in OK but have a lot of natives for the south/southeast. The Botanic Gardens in DC uses them.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

I love your voodoo lily! And what a wonderful use for your pot, I bought one in Mexico years ago and have still to use it for anything, thanks for the great inspiration =) Loving your blog and looking forward to many visits to come...Cheers Julia

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulia@PolkaDotGaloshes

Wow! What a plant - you'll have to show us when it blooms. :)

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

I'm new to your blog. look like tomato plants for me too! Hope to see the flowers!~

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermalar

Your Voodoo Plant looks very happy! Those snakeskin stems are very unique.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Again, not a plant I know. As everyone says it is the gardener's joy in seeing life and nature in all its glory that makes a gardener's life so special. Lovely pot too. Christina

July 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

It'll be fun to see what happens when it blooms! I do hope the aroma isn't too overwhelming.

July 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

I can hardly wait to see the images when it does finally bloom for you!! Good luck with it, and I hope that you magically now have 3!

July 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

Deb, I think you might enjoy the post below:


Owen shares a similar interest to yours.

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGirlSprout

Congratulations! It is so rewarding to store a tender bulb over the winter, and then to see it come to life. I get that same rush with elephant ears and canna. Best of luck with it!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNitty Gritty Dirt Man

It looks like you have a baby! Well, IT has a baby!

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

I am the aforementioned Owen. Good post; it's always a nice surprise to find others out there who enjoy these strange plants. If you want the corms to grow larger, it might help to put them in a brighter area as long as they won't get cooked. Good luck and I hope they do well for you :)

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOwen

Well, it must really like the care you are giving it Deb, aside from producing yet another shoot it looks so healthy! Can't wait to hear if you need that gas mask when it finally blooms :)

July 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

not enough plants are weird and wonderful - and even before flowering these ones are performing as hoped!! I look forward to more strange happenings, putrid or not.

July 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercatmint
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