10 May 2012

Dragon Arum, Green Dragon, Arum Italicum for zone 7

Arums are commonly planted in shade gardens and under deciduous trees where they can be protected from hot summer sun. Fleshy spikes emerge in the spring and their flowers are funnel-shaped.

A few years ago, during a long, gardening-free December, a combination of touched-up photos, spring fever and sale prices, led to a bulb order that included a bag of Arum Italicum. They were planted in the dappled shade under the Osage Orange trees

Flower gardeners know Arum Italicum, or Lords and Ladies, by their beautiful arrow-shaped leaves, white flowers, and the cluster of orange-red seeds that follow the fading flowers. Another well-loved member of the same plant family is Calla Lily which has similar leaves and growing preferences.  

Green Dragon flower

Green Dragon leaf
Other shade-loving relatives include Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, and Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium which are native to our area.
Dragon Arum flower
For years, those sale bulbs’ fleshy, grey-green blotched stems emerged and sprouted interesting fans of leaves where the original five plants were tucked. No blooms appeared until this year and the flower that emerged is the one in the photo. It is not Lords and Ladies but a Dragon Arum.
Dragon Arum leaf
Jack in the Pulpit flower
Amorphophallus or Dragon Arums, look like they belong in the tropics but they are cold hardy to USDA zone 5. Their cultural needs include half shade and well-drained, but moist, soil.
Some of the common names in this family of Aroids include Voodoo Lily, Ragons, Snake Lily, Black Dragon, Dragonwort, Stink Lily, Snake Tongue, and Drakondia. But as with other common names for unusual plants, there is a lot of confusion. Look at a photo and especially the growing zones, before ordering. Plant Delights Nursery offers 20 different varieties of Amorphophyllus or Arum (www.plantdelights.com).
    There are 26-Arum species from shaded areas in Southern Europe, North Africa, West Asia and the Western Himalayas. They all have attractive, marked or lined leaves that are spear shaped or heart shaped. Some have sweetly scented flowers and others, such as the Titan Arum, have the famous smell of dead animals in order to attract the flies needed for pollination. Sometimes Arums are called corpse flowers because of their smell.
Titan Arums, the world’s largest flowers, are grown in a conservatory. When one of them flowers, live cameras and Internet links are set up to record every moment of its opening. At Ohio State University, seeds started in 2001 resulted in a 3-foot wide flower blooming ten years later. The opening can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Mvtle2qCM.
Amorphophyllus or Arums were discovered by early plant explorers and because of their exotic appearance, many myths developed. Titan Arums were thought to eat the gardeners who cultivated them.
Other myths: Carrying the roots or leaves will protect you against vipers and serpents; carrying a plant onboard a boat will repel sea serpents; and, washing your hands in the plant’s juice will allow you to handle snakes without harm.
The plants in this group need half shade to full shade. The roots rot in wet soil so minimize irrigation and plant in a well-drained location. Ours thrive next to a dry-stacked rock wall. Divide clumps in the fall and replant a foot apart.
To cultivate a new bed, loosen the soil 6 to 8-inches deep and add compost, chopped leaves, and/or peat moss. Dig planting holes a foot or two apart and twice as wide as the tubers, Tubers are planted on their sides with the eye barely under the soil.
To start seeds indoors, plant them late winter and keep the soil 65-degrees. To plant seed outside, plant in the fall and lightly cover with compost or potting soil. Seeds take 6-months to germinate.
Check out the International Aroid Society, Inc. Arisaema page here. The Cluture link says they are almost as easy to grow as potatoes. How to grow from seed information is thorough.
AND, if you are considering shopping beyond Plant Delights' offerings, check out Telos Rare Bulbs here. Many wow possibilities.http://muskogeephoenix.com/features/x2089088583/Arums-offer-exotic-delights

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