If you like bizarre and unusual plants, try a voodoo lily. The plant produces a rather smelly spathe with rich reddish-purple coloring and speckled stems. Voodoo lilies are tropical to sub-tropical plants that grow from tubers. Propagating voodoo lily couldn’t be easier if you already have one or a gardening buddy has this member of the Arum family. Division is the best method of voodoo lily propagation and may even be done by beginner gardeners, but seeds are possible with a little know-how too.
How to Propagate a Voodoo Lily
You will know you are in the presence of a voodoo lily even before you see it if it is blooming. The flower gives off an unmistakable scent that is reminiscent of something that is rotting. This attracts pollinators, such as flies, and ensures that the plant can set seed. The odor is only strong for the first day and fades quickly. Soon seed will set and offsets will form. Either method is a suitable method of propagation for voodoo lilies, provided you have the knowledge and environment to grow either tubers or seed.
Voodoo lilies are native to sub-tropical to tropical regions of eastern Asia. They have many other colorful common names, among them devil’s tongue. The plant has an appealing umbrella shape and develops a maroon to reddish spathe, a modified leaf that houses the actual flower or spadix. This spathe appears up to a month before the first leaves, on a tall speckled stalk.
The tubers, which are the source of the plant growth, may be the size of a grapefruit. Small berries form after the spathe fades and wilts. These are said to be poisonous but can also be used to start new plants. Allow these berries to dry naturally on the plant and then harvest them. Use gloves, as all parts of the plant can cause contact dermatitis. Break open berries and separate seeds from the pulp. Use seed immediately, as it does not store well.
The fastest way of propagation for voodoo lilies is from the large tubers. After the flower fades and the rest of the plant goes dormant, dig up the tubers. There are usually several offsets which should be divided. Each tuber should have some root structure and be firm and blemish free.
Use a well-draining potting soil with plenty of compost content. Plant tubers 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm.) deep. The container needs to be at least 4 inches (10 cm.) wider than the tuber and 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 cm.) deep to accommodate the roots.
The best time to install tubers is early spring, but you can start them indoors earlier. Water to ensure soil is evenly moist and then let soil dry out before watering again. Place the container in a moderately shady location. When growth appears, keep soil lightly moist.
Care during Voodoo Lily Propagation
Both seeded plants and those started from tubers need to be kept in an area with moderate humidity. Placing containers near heating vents or drafty windows can limit germination and sprouting. Voodoo lily prefers low light conditions and can suffer in a southern window. The plants also need temperatures on the high side, at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 C.).
Fertilize plants once sprouts are evident with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted by half, once per month. A good ratio is a 15-30-15 formula. Suspend fertilizing as the plant begins to go dormant.
Keep soil moist but not soggy. Plant started tubers or seeds outside once all danger of frost has passed. Amend soil so it is humus rich and drains well. Dig up tubers to store for winter in northern regions.
This smelly little guy is fun to grow and a real conversation piece as an indoor or outdoor plant.