The Unique Voodoo Lily
We're fans of things that are one-off from normal. Several years ago (10?) we picked up a Voodoo Lily at the Madison Farmer's Market. It was described as a plant that blooms every few years, and when it does, it stinks! Sold!
It took a few years before our first bloom. The tubers multiply and after several years we finally divided them into their own pots. They were much happier and all six we kept bloomed! They are a tropical plant and when they bloomed it wasn't warm enough to send them outside. Our basement stunk so much for a few days until they could finally find a home on our front porch.
The stink comes from how they are pollinated - by flies. To attract the flies, it produces an odor of a dead animal. If you've heard of a corpse flower, it's in the same genus.
Shortly after it blooms, the flower dies back and a leaf (it looks like a full-on plant, but it's actually just one leaf) eventually emerges. It's all so unique and beautiful.
The gift that keeps on giving
In 2020 we decided to share our bounty and secretly delivered some to a few of our friends to enjoy. That spring we enjoyed the stories of our friends' plants that bloomed.
How to care for a Voodoo Lily
They are actually pretty easy to care for. The biggest mistake we've seen people make is throwing them away because they thought their plant was dead. Don't lose hope! It spends almost half the year looking dead - it's just dormant.
In the summer set it outside and water regularly. Research says it can grow in full sun or full shade (we've kept ours in pots on the Southeast side of our house). If you forget to water and the dirt dries out, it’s pretty forgiving.
In the fall when it gets cold, bring it indoors. Eventually the leaves will die back. When they do, stop watering. When it really dies back, you can easily pull out the top growth. Leave the tuber in the pot, or dig it up and throw it in a container in a dark corner.
Keep it indoors in the winter without watering.
In the early spring it will start to grow again. As soon as you see it peak out above the dirt, start watering.
When overnight temps stay above 55 degrees, take outside.
Alternatively to keeping it in a pot, it can be transplanted into the ground (and dug up in the fall) or be sunk in the container into the ground up to the rim. It is a bit top-heavy, so if you keep it in a pot, you’ll probably want a decent sized one.
It will probably have multiplied over the year. Before it starts growing in the spring, you can dump out the pot to separate the bulbs, and replant or gift it away.
If you’re lucky, some spring before the leaf emerges, it will bloom! Enjoy!