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A lovely cobra in the garden

  • A lovely cobra in the garden
  • A lovely cobra in the garden
  • A lovely cobra in the garden
  • A lovely cobra in the garden
  • A lovely cobra in the garden
  • A lovely cobra in the garden

Arisaema amurense is an amazing and unusual plant often called cobra lily or jack-in-the-pulpit; both names refer to the distinctive appearance of the flower.

I started growing Arisaema with just one plant in 2004 and kept it in a container for a good few years until there were so many babies there I just had to set them free. I spread them out at the bottom right corner of my garden under my cedar tree, together with crocuses, cyclamens, anemones and trilliums and it has been a very successful mix. I have a succession of plants starting from early November and ending in July, when the last Arisaemas have died down.

There are many different types of Arisaema, from the tiniest to the enormous 5’ tall (150cm), and Arisaema amurense is one of the smaller ones at around 8” (20cm) and therefore easy to plant between other woodland plants. They prefer a fertile garden soil with an open porous structure and drainage must be good so the tubers don’t rot over winter when precipitation is high and the tubers are dormant. I use bark chippings in all my flowerbeds and I don’t use a liner. Over the years the bark breaks down and has to be topped up, and it adds a lovely structure to the soil which is good for all the plants in my garden, especially the woodland plants.

Arisaemas are members of the aroid family, a group of exotic flowering shade plants that includes philodendron and zantedeschia (calla lilies). They come from a variety of countries and have different requirements, but for most of them one thing applies; they like to grow in dappled shade away from scorching sun. Areas under the canopy of spreading trees are often ideal provided that the ground is not bone dry, packed full of tree roots.

Arisaema amurense produces brilliant orange fruits in the autumn. Leave the seeds to fall off naturally and they will germinate next spring. The tiny babies will take many years to reach flowering stage but are well worth the wait, and after a few years you can dig up some of the babies and move to a new place in the garden or give away.

I have seen different information regarding hardiness of Arisaema amurense, everything from it being tender to very hardy. All I can say is that I had no problem growing it in a container and I can remember even a couple of winters where all my containers froze solid. In the ground the Arisaema is better protected during winter but I am not sure it would be an issue at all with this particular type, after 10 years in my garden they have endured all sorts of winters.

I can warmly recommend Arisaema amurense, they are flowering in my garden right now and if you want to start with some babies I have plenty to swap with. If you are a bit more impatient and want flowers right now then you can find Arisaema amurense for sale at specialist nurseries online.

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    What a fabulous post and stunning photos of this unusual plant, Helene. World class!

  2. Grower

    Kathy Peck

    Another beautiful plant and very interesting post :-)

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