Amorphophallus konjac (Voodoo Lily) Care Tips Every Gardener Should Know
The Amorphophallus konjac is one of the most exciting plants out there. Also called the voodoo lily plant, this curious perennial plant is from the Aroid family and is known for its beautiful (but smelly) flower and edible tubers. There’s so much to discover with voodoo lilies!
In this post, we’ll talk you through all the care practices and requirements for these tropical plants. If you want to buy this plant, we have options for you to explore below.
What Is Amorphophallus konjac?
Amorphophallus konjac is the botanical name for this plant. The common names for it include voodoo lily, devil’s tongue, elephant yam, snake palm, and konjaku.
It has a glossy brown tuber and generates rhizomatous offsets every year. It technically produces a single leaf stalk every year that first grows upward and then umbrellas outward. It’s used both as an ornamental plant and as a food source, and it has also been used historically in traditional medicine.
The petiole of the konjaku may grow 4-5′ tall, while the leaf blade can grow 4′ broad. Before the leaf develops, the tuber matures and creates a vast inflorescence (a botanical term meaning the complete flower head).
The voodoo lily blooms are composed of a thick, spike-like spadix with tiny male and female flowers and a leafy, dark maroon spathe. To attract pollinators like carrion flies, the flower produces a pungent odor of decaying flesh.
If you’re willing to deal with the smell (I am not!), it can be placed as a houseplant in various locations, whether in low light or full sun from windows. Outdoors, it can also be grown in hardiness zones 6-11.
A few flowering plants, such as eastern skunk cabbage & voodoo lily, vigorously generate heat, pushing their body temps as high as 113°F (45°C)!— Ferris Jabr (@ferrisjabr) February 23, 2020
In late winter, this heat can melt snow. You can find fields of plants emerging through remarkably round windows of their own making. pic.twitter.com/68KB9iNBhk
What’s The Difference Between A Voodoo Lily And Corpse Flower?
While a relative of the corpse flower, the voodoo lily is actually a different plant altogether. The corpse flower’s scientific name is Amorphophallus Titanum. Both plant options have a rotting flesh odor, which is used to attract insects that eat carcasses.
Amorphophallus konjac Origin And Family
From the Amorphophallus genus in the Araceae family, the voodoo lily is native to the subtropical to tropical forests of China’s Yunnan province and part of Southeast Asia, Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In terms of identification, it produces large olive green leaves with maroon or purple-brown spathe flowers.
Where To Buy A Voodoo Lily
A. konjac is a beautiful addition to any garden, whether you’re growing it for its tubers or ornamental value. If you plan to purchase one, it may be a bit tricky finding it at a local nursery. I recommend starting by checking out Etsy.
The price tags for an Amorphophallus konjac are usually reasonably affordable for smaller plants, ranging between $10-12. Mature plants will be pricier, costing up to $100 or so (up to 6′ feet or more).
Amorphophallus konjac Plant Size
As a houseplant, the Amorphophallus konjac reaches between 4-6 feet tall to 4 feet wide when mature. This Philodendron grows well in various locations in either low light or full sun from windows.
This plant develops from a tuber, and when new leaves appear, the tuber shrinks in size. As the growing season progresses, a new tuber will emerge to replace the old one.
Voodoo Lily Care Needs
Your Amorphophallus konjac, with its starchy edible tubers, will flourish if you take good care of it. This plant should have consistently moist soil throughout the year.
Water your Amorphophallus when about 1/3″ of the topsoil is dry, especially once you notice new growth emerging during its growing season. When the leaf begins to senesce in the late summer or fall, the growth media should be left to dry, and no more fertilizer should be applied. When the leaf becomes totally brown, you can cut it off.
Please take a look at the more specific growing tips we’ve written below to keep your Amorphophallus konjac healthy and happy!
Amorphophallus konjac Growth Rate
When grown indoors, the konjaku plant grows to 4-6 feet. The leaf only lives for one growing season before dying naturally in late summer or fall. Greater tubers (the size of a grapefruit or larger) may produce a single inflorescence before the leaves develop in late winter or early spring.
Most Amorphophallus species, including the konjac, have a slow-growing speed.
Amorphophallus konjac Potting
The container should be at least twice the diameter of the tuber being planted to allow the roots to grow and spread properly. They will only grow in warm weather circumstances because they are warm-weather plants.
Smaller voodoo lilies thrive in 12″ to 16″ diameter pots, but more prominent varieties require adequate development space. Remember that the looser the roots are, the higher and healthier your plant will be.
Good drainage is another need for this herbaceous perennial.
Amorphophallus konjac Repotting And Soil
As your plant grows and expands, you might consider upgrading from your current pot to a bigger pot on an as-needed basis. Typically, the need to repot occurs once a year when the plant goes through a dormant period because this plant grows at a slow pace.
The Voodoo lily grows well in either a soil-less growing medium or a rich organic soil. You can also make your own potting mix by adding loam, sand, and acidic materials (this can vary a bit from plant to plant). This plant likes its soil to stay consistently moist, and clay soil is not recommended for this plant.
Amorphophallus konjac pH
For the konjaku, you’ll need neutral to acidic soil with around 5.0-7.0 pH. In most cases, either a soil-less growing medium or a rich organic soil is close to this pH level, so this shouldn’t be a significant concern.
Add calcitic or dolomitic lime, wood ash, or baking soda to raise the pH level of your voodoo lily’s soil. To lower the pH of your soil, you can use sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
Amorphophallus konjac Water
A voodoo lily needs consistently moist soil throughout the year. In the summertime, you should plan to water your konjac a couple inches of water a week.
Drench the soil until water drains out the hole at the bottom of your voodoo lily’s pot.
Once the single leaf dies for the season (this is natural), you should allow the growing medium to dry out more. Continue to water your voodoo lily deeply but do it less frequently.
Amorphophallus konjac Light
This houseplant isn’t picky when it comes to light. It can survive and thrive in various light options, including low light, partial shade, partial sun, and even full sun. If you’re seeing scorching or burning on the leaves, it likely means your plant needs less light.
If you’re growing indoors and worried that your Amorphophallus konjac isn’t getting enough light, you may need to move it closer to a window or consider using artificial lights. Here are some basic options for you to consider:
Amorphophallus konjac Fertilizer
A high phosphate content fertilizer to stimulate the growth of the tubers is ideal for the devil’s tongue. It’s considered a heavier feeder during its growing season. But once the leaf naturally dies in the late summer or fall, you should allow it to dry and not add any more fertilizer.
The leaf only lives for one season before dying naturally in late summer or fall. Greater tubers (the size of a grapefruit or larger) may produce a single inflorescence before the leaves develop in late winter or early spring. Plan to feed your voodoo lily about once a month during its growing season.
Outside of the growing season, growth naturally slows down, so you don’t need to fertilize.
Humidity And Aeration for Amorphophallus konjac
Amorphophallus konjac is an edible perennial that loves high humidity. We recommend keeping the air humidity levels around 80-85% for best results.
Aside from absorbing water through its roots, your plant will also need nourishment from the moisture in the air. You can keep bowls of water to evaporate nearby, or you can invest in a humidifier that is more consistent in improving humidity for your plant.
Amorphophallus konjac Temperature
The voodoo lily likes warm temperatures, ranging between 68-70 degrees F, but it can survive in temps down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consistency should be key when growing plants indoors. If you grow this somewhat smelly plant inside, keep it away from windows and open vents.
During the spring and summer, you can expect to see a massive maroon flower from your mature voodoo lily. As a note, it takes about three years to reach this maturity. One of the most significant traits of these exotic plants is their incredibly pungent bloom and bloom spike – at least for about two days when it is in full bloom.
Here’s a fantastic time-lapse from Nadia Giordana, which includes pictures of the flower.
Unfortunately, the voodoo lily is toxic to pets (including cats and dogs) and humans. If consumed, you can expect the following symptom: vomiting caused by the calcium oxalate crystals of the plant causing irritation.
In most cases, eating a voodoo lily is considered non-life-threatening. If you’re planning to cook with this plant (I have yet to find many tested recipes), it’s important to note that it should only be attempted after proper preparation. Otherwise, you can expect some of these not-so-fun symptoms.
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Amorphophallus konjac
The Amorphophallus konjac is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some common diseases, problems, and pests, along with how to treat them.
Yellow leaves can be caused by so many factors. For one, a lack of light can deprive your plant of nourishment and turn the voodoo lily’s leaves yellow. Alternatively, there might be an issue with underwatering, overwatering, or an inconsistent watering schedule.
Remove yellowing leaves so the plant can focus its energy on growing new green leaves instead.
Leaf beetles are a type of colorful bug that munch on the leaves and petals, leaving little, circular holes all over the place. If your infestation isn’t too severe, remove the eggs, beetles, and nymphs from the plant. Spritz your plant with soapy water when you’re done.
The awesome voodoo lily can be found in Europe & the Balkans. pic.twitter.com/VcbQs0gRQX— Nature Is Weird (@NaturelsWeird) April 21, 2019
If you’re looking for a genuinely unique houseplant, the Amorphophallus konjac is an excellent choice. Just follow the tips we’ve shared above, and you’ll be sure to have success with the exotic, potentially tasty, definitely smelly, and absolutely beautiful plant.
Need more Amorphophallus plant guides? Check out these other options from Two Peas In A Condo!
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