Amorphophallus titanum, commonly known as Titan Arum, is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. Due to its odor, which is like the smell of a rotting corpse or carcass, it is characterized as a carrion flower, and is also known as Corpse Flower. Titan Arum was first found in the tropical forests of Sumatra where even there, it is rare in its native habitat.
Like most tropical plants, Titan Arum needs warm growing conditions above 75°F (24°C). Some people have success growing the plant on a heat mat when grown indoors to keep the temperature in the right range.
It needs a growing environment that gets good light but not hot noonday sun. Filtered sunlight or partial shade is perfect. Titan Arums grow in the understory of the forests where dappled light falls on the leaves. Titan Arum grows best in natural sunlight. If you are growing inside, provide as much natural light as possible and supplement with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs.
It is important to water the plant accurately. Allow the soil surface to dry a little between watering but never let it become bone dry, yet don’t keep it soggy either. The tropical forest soils are light and open, yet the rainfall is often heavy so the plant almost always has some moisture in contact with its roots.
Titan Arum is a moderate feeder needing a balanced fertilizer as the growing season starts, being sure to taper off as fall approaches. As they do prefer lower light, don’t overdo the feed. A top-dressing of an organic fertilizer a couple times during the growing season is adequate. If you are applying liquid fertilizer, you can add some with every watering during the active growing season.
Many have said Titan Arum is one of the most difficult plants to grow in cultivation. However, it is not any more difficult than any other flowering plant. The difficulty comes in the consistent growing conditions for a period of 7 years or more. You must mimic its native environment of tropical Sumatra. For instance, every year, once the plant dies back the corm must be moved into a larger pot. If the corm is nicked or damaged, it can allow disease organisms to kill the plant.
Titan Arum is not forgiving. Humidity has to be 80 percent, the ambient air temperature needs to be above 60°F (15°C), and preferably above 75°F (24°C). It won’t hurt the plant if the temperature dips into the 60s for a few days in a row but it shouldn’t be in the 60s for months at a time. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and use sterile soil when transplanting.
Repotting should be done during dormancy when the petiole and leaf collapses and rots away at the end of each year. The potting soil is washed away from the corm and the corm is carefully lifted and placed in a new, larger pot. The underground corm supports the leaf stage and then every year the corm grows larger. When the corm reaches 40 to 50 pounds (18 to 22.5 kg), it sends up a bloom instead of its usual leaf and petiole. Mature corms can reach upwards of 50 pounds (22.5 kg).
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