When choosing plants for my apartment, I prefer exotic cultures. Last year, the choice fell on the snake palm, or amorphophallus. This is a small tree of a specific shape, characterized by the shedding of foliage every season. Of the minuses, an unpleasant smell, reminiscent of rotten meat, can be noted. However, beautiful flowering and unique decorative effect compensates for this shortcoming. I want to share my experience of growing and caring for this amazing plant.
Amorphophallus is a deciduous plant of the Aroid family. In the wild, it can be found in Indochina. From the ancient Greek language, the name of the culture is translated as “shapeless process”. The plant sap is poisonous and can cause severe dermatitis and skin irritation. The snake palm is an ephemeroid plant with a short life cycle. Amorphophallus most of the time is at rest, the vegetation lasts no more than 5 months.
The root system is represented by a powerful tuber that can grow up to 5 kg. The stem is thick and lignified, at first one dissected leaf up to 50 cm long appears on it. It dies off after 2-3 months, but every year it becomes more and more. Flowering lasts no more than a month. The flower is represented by a large cob with a veil, exudes the smell of rotten fish or meat. When pollinated, a seed is formed from many berries with seeds. After that, the flower again goes into a dormant period.
There are more than 190 species in the genus. They differ in habitat, appearance and life cycle. In floriculture, the following varieties of amorphophallus are used:
- Rivera . The tuber grows up to 25 cm in diameter, the maximum length of the leaves is 80 cm. There are white-brown spots on the surface of the leaf plate. The peduncle reaches 100 cm in height, the bedspread is painted in a light green hue. Does not bear fruit under room conditions;
- Bulbous . It is distinguished by a spherical tuber up to 8 cm in diameter. One petiolate leaf up to 100 cm long is formed. It is painted in olive color with light spots. Peduncle short (30 cm), dirty green with pink spots;
- Cognac . It forms a spherical tuber with a diameter of more than 20 cm. The petiole can grow up to 80 cm, the leaves are pinnately dissected. The spathe of the flower is medium in size, painted in a brown-reddish tint. In the apartment, the fruits are not formed.
Conditions of detention
Amorphophallus is characterized by moderate unpretentiousness when grown in an apartment. However, the plant is able to develop and bloom only in comfortable conditions. If the requirements for humidity, illumination and composition of the soil are not observed, early leaf fall and slow growth of vegetative parts are observed.
Lighting and site selection
Palm is demanding on the quality and duration of lighting. For development, you need constant and bright diffused light from 10 hours a day. It is advisable to place a flower pot on the east or south side of the house. At midday, darkening is recommended, which avoids the appearance of burns on the leaves. For the winter, a container with a dead flower should be removed in a dark place.
Amorphophallus has a clearly defined period of vegetation and dormancy. During the whole growth the plant needs stable heat in the range from 20 to 25 o C, at lower temperatures the flower is not formed. During dormancy, the heat must be lowered to 9-12 o C, the beginning of the transition to this stage can be determined by the blackening of the extra-root part.
Increased humidity of air and soil is a key factor in the harmonious development of a flower. It is important to observe the irrigation regime throughout the growing season, preventing the substrate from drying out. During dormancy, it is enough to water the soil a little to avoid drying out. The plant does not tolerate water procedures, it is not worth taking a shower. To maintain soil moisture, it is recommended to place a container with water or wet pebbles nearby.
Soil and pot
For growing amorphophallus in an apartment, you can use any ready-made mixture for palm trees. If you plan to prepare the substrate yourself, then it is enough to mix leafy soil, peat, sand and sphagnum moss (sawdust) in a ratio of 2:2:1:1. The soil should be light and loose throughout the entire period of active growth.
The capacity for the plant should be voluminous and free, correspond to the size of the root system. Experienced flower growers recommend choosing a flower pot made of plastic or ceramic with a diameter of 12 cm or more. The material of manufacture should be light, which avoids overheating during active exposure to the sun.
When growing snake palm, the life cycle of development should be taken into account. During dormancy, it is only necessary to maintain a slight moisture content in the soil, and also to prevent an increase in temperature. Basic recommendations for care during the growing season:
- during active growth, watering should be plentiful, with regularity up to 2 times a week. However, water should not be allowed to stagnate on the soil surface, which can lead to rotting of the plant;
- fertilizing is applied only during the growing season. It is recommended to use complex compositions with a high content of phosphorus every 7-10 days. It is undesirable to use organic matter, as it negatively affects flowering;
- transplantation is recommended every two years outside the growing season. The procedure can be combined with vegetative propagation methods (tuber division, children).
In addition, the soil must be loosened as often as possible so that it retains breathability. This stimulates the active growth of the stem, the development of children on the tuber. If you do not plan to transplant, after each flowering, 20% of the substrate should be replaced.
The period of rest and vegetation can be controlled by external conditions. As a rule, hibernation of a plant occurs with a decrease in temperature, a decrease in the duration and saturation of daylight hours.
Diseases and pests
Amorphophallus flower is resistant to disease infection. However, pests can cause a lot of problems, especially when grown next to other plants. Root nematodes and mealybugs are the most dangerous. They are difficult to detect in the early stages, so it is important to observe prevention - to cultivate the soil before planting.
Aphids and spider mites are less dangerous, but they are much more common. They lend themselves well to destruction by folk methods and chemical insecticides. It is important to carry out processing at least two times, as well as to change the old soil as much as possible.
- Amorphophallus, or snake palm, is a deciduous plant of the ephemeroid type. Has a long dormant period, dies immediately after flowering.
- The flower is decorative and has an unpleasant smell, reminiscent of rotten meat. Flowering can last up to 30 days.
- Compliance with the rules of cultivation and care allows you to maintain the health of tubers, to achieve budding.
- The basic rules of care are abundant watering during the flowering period, fertilizing only during the growing season, regular transplanting or soil replacement.