INFORMATION ABOUT DRAGON FLOWER…
By: Nikki Phipps
Image by Jörg Hempel The Dragon flower (Dracunculus vulgaris) is an interesting member of the Arum family and a native of the Mediterranean region. The plant’s name is associated with its resemblance to a dragon’s tongue. This unusual plant is also called the Voodoo lily, Black dragon, and Dragon arum.
Interesting characteristics of Dragon flower include its distinctive shiny light-green, spotted leaves and a large, frilly dark-red spathe. Its dark purple spadix emits a most unforgettable foul odor smelling of rotten meat. Fortunately, this rotten odor occurs only when the flower is mature and lasts long enough to attract a few flies, approximately one day. Flies are its chief pollinator of the Dragon flower.
Considered huge in every way, mature dragon flower plants reach heights of 18-30 inches tall. The 10-12 inch flowers range in color from deep maroon to nearly black and last for 7-10 days. You can expect to find the unusual Dragon flower plant blooming in late spring to early summer.
The semi-hardy Dragon flower bulbs are planted in the fall approximately 4 inches beneath the soil. This plant grows in either full sun or light shade and prefers moist, humus-rich soil.
Dragon flower transfers to temperate gardens with great ease, doing well in zones 5-8. Once established within the garden, dragon flower requires no special attention of any kind other than an adequate amount of mulch through winter. When the plant begins to die back after blooming, you should decrease watering.
Dragon flower makes quite the conversation piece and is often used as a specimen plant. It can also be used to accent woodland gardens or pond edges. This also makes a great plant for the tropical garden. Some good companions for dragon flower include dahlia, caladium, elephant ears, jack-in-the-pulpits, hosta, and coleus.
Dragon flowers spread by self-seeding and offsets. If the seedheads are not collected, they will eventually fall over in the garden. Dragon flowers can be easily propagated from their seeds or offset bulbs.