The Q&A Archives: Amporphaphallus Bulb

Question: Our friends gave us a bulb this winter. You take it in before the first frost and put it in a box in the basement and over the winter a stem will grown up to 6 feet tall and bloom. In the spring after the first frost you put in the ground and it will grow into a bush. She had written down the name which is Amorphaphallus Hydrosome Rivieri. I don't know if the spelling is right or not. Can you give me information on this plant?

Answer: Your friend has given you a Voodoo lily. The flower is composed of a one-foot long bract, greenish yellow with deep purple markings, that surrounds a long, blackish purple central spike. The bloom has a strong, unpleasant odor when it first opens. The tuber will bloom without planting, just place it on a windowsill. Or you can pot it up in rich potting soil, keeping the soil moist while the plant is growing, then letting it dry during dormancy.

The odor is the flower's way of attracting pollinating insects - mainly flies - and is strongest the day it open. After that, it's a curiosity that's sure to evoke comments from your visitors.

If you decide to keep your voodoo lily after it blooms, you can plant it in a container in regular potting soil and give it bright light and moderate amounts of water.

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