Growing And Caring For The Voodoo Lily (Amorphophallus Konjac)

There are so many interesting houseplants to choose from, it can be difficult to know which ones to go for, especially since there tends to be less room in our homes than in the garden.

So sometimes you have to be a little choosy, or get a little creative in terms of where you can grow your houseplants.

One plant you should definitely consider growing indoors is the voodoo lily, also known as Amorphophallus konjac. 

When it flowers, it will steal the show in any home.

Not sure if the voodoo lily is for you? Let’s take a look at what you should know.

What You Should Know About The Voodoo Lily At A Glance

You may know the voodoo lily by other names, such as the devil’s tongue, umbrella arum, konjac, the snake palm, stink lily, or snake’s tongue. 

It comes from the Araceae plant family, which means it is a relative of the philodendron, among other famous plants.

The voodoo lily is a perennial plant, easily recognizable for its single maroon flower (technically a spathe) when in bloom. The flower stem can reach 4 feet tall, but you won’t want to keep this plant nearby for the first two days of flowering!

The plant is pollinated by flies, and what better way to attract them than with a flower that smells like rotting meat?

This trait puts a lot of people off, as you might imagine. Some enthusiastic growers put a clear bag over the flowers to stop the smell or cut the flower off completely.

But there are other unusual aspects about this plant that are worth considering, so don’t write it off just yet.

The voodoo lily is an unusual plant that grows from a tuber and produces a flower before anything else. It will then form a single compound leaf, and go back into dormancy.

It’s worth noting that it won’t flower until the tuber is at least 5 years old, in which case you will see only foliage until that time.

But the foliage itself is also striking, and some people grow it just for the stems and leaves. The stems are usually olive green with mottled pink splotches.

Each tuber forms one leaf, which divides into three branch-like sections, forming leaflets. As it produces at least two or three branches, it looks a little like a tree.

The larger the tuber, the bigger the leaf will be. 

In its native conditions, the tuber itself can get as weighty as 50 pounds, reaching a foot across. Above the soil, the leaf can get 4 feet wide, and 6 feet tall. 

The plant hails from Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam, but it’s grown all over the world as a houseplant.

How To Grow A Voodoo Lily

Voodoo lilies are not difficult to care for, but they do like specific growing conditions. The better you can match them, the healthier your plant will be. 

Where Can You Grow A Voodoo Lily?

You can grow a voodoo lily outdoors or indoors. However, it’s more commonly grown as a houseplant, as the growth above ground will not withstand any level of frost. 

Buried tubers, however, can survive in winter to USDA zone 6, so you may be able to grow it outdoors all year round, depending on where you live. 

Many growers treat this plant like a dahlia, starting it off indoors in spring, planting it out when the soil is warm enough, and digging them back up in the fall to overwinter somewhere sheltered.

As long as temperatures stay above 55°F at night, the voodoo lily will survive. 

If you don’t fancy digging up the tubers every single year, and you want to grow them outside, you could bury the container in the ground to the rim, and simply lift the container out in fall, or keep it in a container on a patio.

Soil Requirements

You can grow the voodoo lily in rich, organic soil with plenty of nutrients and good drainage. It’s worth noting that the roots don’t grow out of the base of the tuber, but they emerge from the top of the tuber.

This means that the tubers need to be deep below the soil’s surface. A good rule is to plant the tuber as deep as the tuber is wide. 

Make sure that the pot you plant it in is twice as big as the tuber is wide, and this will give the roots enough room to grow.

Can You Propagate A Voodoo Lily?

Voodoo lilies regularly produce offsets, and this is the easiest way to propagate them. Make sure you only separate the new tubers in spring, and not before, otherwise you may damage the plant if you propagate in fall or winter.

How To Repot A Voodoo Lily

The only time you’ll really need to repot a voodoo lily is to do so in late winter or early spring when you take the tubers out of winter storage and pot them up for the year. 

If you find the tuber needs a bigger pot, it’s best to do so at this point, not when the plant is actively growing.

Voodoo Lily Care

Sunlight And Position

The voodoo lily will tolerate barely any light at all or full sunlight, but it does tend to do better in partial shade.

Temperature And Humidity

The voodoo lily likes its surroundings to be fairly humid and warm, but you don’t need to go to huge lengths to achieve this. The average household is warm and humid enough.

However, you will need to keep this plant away from freezing temperatures.

When To Water A Voodoo Lily

The voodoo lily is a thirsty plant and needs a lot of water. Some growers even sink a potted voodoo lily into a shallow pond, and it will do just fine.

However, you should let the soil dry out in the last few weeks of summer or early fall when the plant begins to die back. 

Should You Feed A Voodoo Lily?

It’s a good idea to feed a voodoo lily. Not only are they thirsty plants, but they are also very hungry, and you can feed them several times during the growing season. 

But keep in mind that feeding the plant will not encourage it to flower.

Pests And Diseases To Watch Out For

There aren’t many pests or diseases that you need to watch out for, as the voodoo lily is fairly resilient.

However, there are things you can do to make sure that this plant stays as healthy as possible. 

Give it enough space around the plant and neighboring plants to keep a good airflow, and don’t overwater or underwater it.

Dormancy

All voodoo lilies will go into dormancy come winter. You can either let the tuber stay in the pot, or put it in peat moss somewhere dry and warm. Place any dormant voodoo lily plants somewhere between 42°F and 50°F.

Final Thoughts

The voodoo lily is a fantastic plant that makes a unique statement in any home or garden, and if you take care of it, it will provide you with fantastic displays year after year. 

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