Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Since I don't work outdoors during the winter months, I try and catch up on everything that didn't get done, or got put aside during the months that I am working or gardening. I gather the tax information together, clean up stacks of paper that never got filed or tossed, and just tidy up the office. As I was going through a file cabinet in the office, I ran across I bunch of pictures
from 25-30 years ago.
I used to help an old couple that lived next door to us, with the rose beds in their back yard. They had hundreds of rose bushes, and they hired me to help take care of them. They showed me a bulb that they planted every Spring. They called it a Voodoo bulb. I looked it up in my books, and that is indeed the name of it. There are more than one variety, but I have never found this particular one in any of my books. The bulb would be planted in the Spring, and about 6 weeks later, it would start to grow. It would grow a stalk that looked exactly like the flower stalk, but then would open to umbrella-like foliage. The shade from it was dense enough to grow impatiens underneath. When they dug the bulb in the Fall, there were baby voodoo's coming from the Mother bulb. Of course, I asked for one. The Mother bulb was probably about the size of a volley ball, and the babies about the size of a golf ball. It takes many years to get them to the large "Mother" size. They are not hardy, so they have to be dug every Fall.
When they reach the "Mother" size, they begin to bloom. I would store the bulb in my basement, and come about February or March, the flower would start up from the bulb. No soil, or water, they just grow. As you can see, this is no small flower. They could reach 6-7 foot tall. Now, there has to be a a drawback, right? Well, there is. When the flowers open, and that large purple tongue-like thing sticking out of the middle of it is at it's peak, the absolutely most horrible stink comes from the flower. As I remember, it smelled like rotten meat. So, the flower could stay in the house until full bloom, and then it had to go to the porch. In our several moves since we lived in that house, I somehow lost track, or didn't get my Mother bulb dug up, but I have always managed to keep at least a few babies going. The ones that I dug this Fall are now about the size of a baseball. For the past few years I have planted them in a whiskey barrel so that they would be easier to dig. They don't seem to be getting much bigger, so I think next year I will plant them directly in the ground. I sure would like to get my bulbs back to the "Mother" size.


Kylee said...

Mom and I went to the Ft. Wayne Botanical Gardens last February to see theirs blooming. It was on its way out when we were there, so it didn't stink as bad as it had earlier. I've got several voodoo bulbs but they're small. I love the foliage though. One is in a pot in the greenhouse basement and has started to break dormancy.

Lynette said...

I just purchased some bulbs and found your blog.
Thanks for some insight, that I needed to know. I would like to plant now, but if not till spring I do not know. I would like to put in a pot of dirt and see if it starts to grow.
You seem like an awesome lady. I love our God too.

Fireball Phifer said...

I received my first voodoo bulb about 3 weeks ago from a gardening magazine where I had ordered it. When it came in, it looked like it had the base of a small potato. The stem was about 2 1/2 inches tall. I kept it in the plastic bag for literally 2 weeks. Last weekend (Friday around 7pm to be exact), I took the bulb out of the plastic bag, set it on a small saucer in the windowsill and put a little bit of water in it (about 1/8 inch deep). Saturday (around noon) I measured the bulb, and it was 5 1/4 inches tall. Saturday night (around 8pm), I measured it again, and it was a smidge over 5 1/2 inches tall. Sunday, did nothing as we went out of town for a week. Got home this morning and could not believe my eyes. There was no water left in the saucer. I measured the bulb around noon, and was astonished to find out it was 13 1/4 inch tall. I am simply amazed. After posting this, I'm on my way to a gardening site to purchase more. This has been one of the coolest plants/flowers I have seen in a long time.

Best thing I can say is that if you don't think you have a green thumb, and you kill everything, try this. You'll start thinking you’re a master gardener! : )

The only thing I cannot speak of is the smell. I have not yet had the joy of experiencing it. That may change my entire view, as I have an extremely weak stomach. We will see.