Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, the Elephant Yam, is a fantastic perennial tropical Aroid native to the Asian tropics, from India to New Guinea and Northern Australia. This is another one that has to be seen to believe. This fantastic 3 feet tall 2 feet wide flower is a must for any tropical enthusiast.
This plant produces a single inflorescence followed by a solitary leaf. In the Spring, if the plant is mature enough, you will see the flowers, otherwise a leaf will sprout. It has one of the largest flowers in the world. Flower last only about 5 days. You can be sure that all your friends will visit you when it flowers. Although the smell necessary to attract pollinating flies is something awful. The flowers are monoecious, individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant.
It will take a few years to reach flowering size but first year seedlings will produce attractive 3 or 4 tropical, 2 feet tall umbrella like leaves. The leaf blade is much divided into hundreds of leaflets and can reach over 1 meter wide. This blade sits atop a thick fleshy stem up to 13cm diameter and 2 meters tall. The plant is deciduous, dying back to a large tubercule, weighing up to 8 kg.
Hardiness zone 10, (1øC/35øF) in Winter. Amorphophallus will go dormant in the Winter. When dormant, don't give it too much water, let the soil dry out. Keep it dry for a couple of weeks and then water it again. Don't fertilize. Repeat this process until the tuber wakes up in the Spring. At that time you can start watering regularly and fertilizing the plant. They should start going dormant again in the Fall. The tuber can be dug up by late Winter if necessary.
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius is quite hardy in tropical areas when planted in rich, well-drained soil in a sheltered, humid position. In temperate areas the plant can be grown successfully as a container specimen. Ample water is required during the growing season but the amount can be reduced dramatically during dormancy. The plant prefers sandy and loamy moist soils. It can grow in semi-shade or no shade.