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  Re: [aroid-l] Outside Amorphophallus
From: "C. J. Addington" cjaddington at earthlink.net> on 2003.09.20 at 05:34:34(10610)
on 9/18/03 15:23, WEAVER,BILL (HP-USA,ex1) at bill.weaver@hp.com wrote:

Hello Bill and All,
Thought I would drop a line about growing Amorphophallus outside. I
actually do all of my growing outside, and have had pretty good luck these
last few years. I currently have 14 species of Amorphophallus in growth, and
I don't have any kind of greenhouse at all. (Wish I did!) Of course I do
live in a mild climate area - Citrus Heights, in California's Central Valley
- but even still, we do have a winter, and it does frost.
I am a rather "high-maintenance" kind of gardener, and I actually dig up
and clean off all my corms every dormant season and store them dry indoors.
I am not sure that they really need that, but I like to see them and play
with the offsets. I plant my Amorphophallus corms in large pots outside
around May every year, and they come up in June and July. By mid-September
(like right now!) the leaves tower over my head, and my yard somewhat
resembles a tree farm. My neighbors think I am running a nursery or
I have found that some species really like sun, and others are more
partial to shade, so I grow them in clustered layers. For example, this year
I put one of my 7-foot konjac in a massive clay pot in a sunny spot, with
some of my more tender paeoniifolius, bulbifer, muelleri and henryi
clustered in its shade. The real heat-haters, like kiusianus and
albispathus, I then tuck under those guys for mid-day protection. By hiding
the smaller, more tender ones under the larger, tougher ones, they all seem
to tolerate our 100+ temperatures and blazing sun.
I let all of my kids grow as long as they can, and feed heavily with
bloom food for maximum corm growth. Sometime in October they usually start
to look a little peaked and start yellowing. As soon as they lose their deep
green color, I force them into dormancy by digging them up, rinsing them off
and letting them dry in a dark, dry place indoors. We have a Mediterranean
climate here - bone dry summers and soggy, rainy winters, and I have found
that many aroid corms do not sleep well in soil outside here. The rotting is
just too severe. Once the leaf ( or leaves ) wither and detach by
themselves, I pack the corms in brown peat in ventilated plastic boxes to
have a nice sleep until the following summer.
This technique works so well, that I sometimes wish that it didn't. I
have such an obsession about not throwing away viable offsets - they're like
my own children! - that I end up potting up way more than I need, even after
handing them out to neighbors, coworkers and internet friends. This month I
potted up approximately 75 Dracunculus vulgaris corms of various sizes,
ranging from pea-sized yearlings to gnarly old monsters (ever notice how
ugly Dracunculus corms get when you don't let them set seed for 4 or 5
years?), and I am anticipating harvesting over a hundred Sauromatum corms
next month.
By the way, if you want any Suaromatum corms this winter, just email me
- I'll send you one or twelve. (Please!)
But just as one season ends, another begins. As I prepare to put my
Amorphophallus, Sauromatum, Pinellias and Arisaemas to bed, the Arums,
Biarums and Helicodiceros are poking up their cute little noses and getting
ready to grow. My Arum pictum are already flowering - lovely velvety purple
little blooms with the reek of a hot garbage can full of rotting leftovers -
and the other Arums will be leafy and green soon enough. Summer gives way to
winter, but the aroider's work is never done - which is a good thing.
Hope that helps, and I'd love to hear what other people are up to this
time of year. I know I am not the only smelly flower freak out spending way
too much money on perlite and Osmocote!


C.J. Addington

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