Amorphophallus newbie - suggestions?

bella_trix(z6b SE PA)April 15, 2007

I saw Amorphophallus konjac at the Philadelphia Flower Show and, despite its, um, interesting oder, I decided I needed one. Now, I've gone and ordered Amorphophallus paeonifolius, Amorphophallus napalensis, Amorphophallus konjac and Amorphophallus bulbifer.

Can anyone suggest a good potting mix for SE Pennsylvania? What size container per tuber size? Any suggestions for a good website for basic care? I've done a little background reading here (hooray, gardenweb), so I'm slightly less clueless than I was an hour ago. Finally, are there any tricks that will get them to flower when it's warm enough to put them outside? Or will I have a stinky house in the middle of winter?

Thanks for any help!

Bellatrix

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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi Bellatrix, Well, these are all the easiest ones to grow so that is a good start!! I have found that they flower in the winter for us which means they stink in the house..not much you can do about that except cut the flower off which is what I do....after seeing a few they get rather redundant and I learned to appreciate the leaf and petiole more than the flower to be honest.

As for potting I would argue for a pot atleast 3 times the diameter of the tuber so they have room to grow a bunch each summer. If they are really happy they can triple in size in a growing season. I use a mix of approx. 60% perlite (2 different sizes and it depends on tuber size) and 40% coarse pine bark mulch.....I use a coarse "soil conditioner" which is just pine bark. I can not use anything with peat in it as this causes rot in a heart beat in my cold rainy Pittsburgh climate. Fertilize like crazy with 15-30-15...I mean use a lot!! I actually grow all of these species in full sun here in Pittsburgh with no problem, but some shade may be required for bulbifer....konjac can be cooked for sure. My napalensis are all up now and about to leaf out so they are very early this year which is a bonus as they will hopefully grow through the summer and go dormant in Oct so I do not have to mess around bringing them inside for the winter until they go dormant. Best of luck with them :o) Dan

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:03PM
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joeb004(z3/4 MN)

Hmmm...maybe that's what went wrong for me. I ended up getting nasty cases of rot on my two large corms; some of the offsets made it through ok. I used peat, orchid bark, and perlite (pretty much equal parts); but I think it was the plastic pots that were the real problem. I have clay for this year.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 3:56PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi Joeboo4.....I always like to add the caveat that what works for me may have no bearing whatsoever on anyone elses success!! In our cool, wet summers (they claim we have the 2nd highest rainfall totals for a major metropolitan area in the U.S. behind Seattle) peat is a catastrophe.....I killed dozens if not hundreds of Amorphs when I first started many years ago using peat-based mixes, but others have no problem with this in other parts of the country so trial and error is often called for....just use less expensive species to trial on :o) Dan

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 10:37PM
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joeb004(z3/4 MN)

Hi Dan, we get rain, but nothing like Seattle or you. However, we certainly have colder weather. I was pretty good about keeping em not too wet last year, but I think I pushed them too hard trying to grow them too late into the fall. What is your procedure for the end of the growing season? I think I can certainly learn something from that.

Oh and how often to you water and fertilize with your mix?

Best Regards,
Joe

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 11:12AM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi Joe,

In the fall I bring them inside under 400W MH bulbs until they go dormant....for many this is Nov/Dec. The big ones just have to deal with going dormant, but the small ones are easy enough under the lights for a couple of months. I water maybe 2x per week here....in full sun with no rain they are pretty dry after 3 days, but better too dry than too wet in my case. I fertilize maybe once every week or two weeks with full-strength 15-30-15. I'm going to put all of my konjac, bulbifer, napalensis, etc in the ground this year....too little time and too much to do so that should lighten the watering load anyway :o) Dan

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:35PM
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joeb004(z3/4 MN)

Thanks Dan...my wife will shoot me if I try a 400W MH! I already got a bunch of lighting contraptions rigged up for my other plants. I could put the amorphs in front of East facing sliding glass door. At what temps do you decide enough is enough for them being outside. Sorry for all the questions, but I'd like to get it right this year. ;)

Regards,
Joe

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 3:08PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Hi Joe, For me it is often the first couple of weeks in Sept. as we are easily getting down into the 40s at night then and that is sort of chilly for the plants....that spells cold, wet soil...not good!!

I understand the lights thing....I have 5 other sets of fluorescent lights for seeds and Haemanthus to go with my 2 MH set ups.....I also have 4 large heat mats in the basement (the ones that hold 4 seedling trays) to keep all of my Hippeastrum growing through the winter.....I grow quite a few species Hipps....no hybrids...also my Griffinia and my evergreen Boophane disticha......of course the winter growers (Helicodiceros, Arums) get another 400W light......it is sort of out of control.....I need a GH, but that can easily cost $5K a winter to heat in this sort of climate as you know :o) Dan

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 10:31PM
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