Q. When and where is the next corpse flower bloom expected in the US
Titan arums take years to form flower buds, but when they finally do, the flowers mature quickly. When the corpse flower bloomed at NYBG last year, it was the first in several years and it went from first sign of a bud to opening in about two weeks time. In the first several days of the bloom cycle, this bud grows about four to six inches per day. Then growth slows significantly. The two bracts at the base of the spathe shrivels and falls off. Next, the spathe, which was once tightly wound around the spadix, begins to open, revealing the deep red color inside. During bloom, the spadix self-heats for a period to approximately human body temperature, which helps disseminate odor particles. The spathe unfurls over the course of about 36 hours (full bloom) before withering and dying back.
A young corpse flower takes about seven to ten years to store enough energy to begin its bloom cycle. Each year, the plant’s corm (a tuberous underground root structure) bears vegetation that grows up to 15 feet tall. The umbrella-like structure resembles a tree but is technically one enormous leaf made up of many small leaflets, branching from a stalk called a petiole. The leaf gathers energy from the sun to store in its corm. The specimen that bloomed last year was accessioned by The New York Botanical Garden in 2007. It was carefully nurtured by horticulturists in the Nolen Greenhouses for nearly ten years, storing enough energy year by year to prepare for this bloom cycle. It will be another several years before this plant is ready to bloom again.
Our Amorphophallus titanum plants are nurtured in the warm tropical zone of the Nolen Greenhouses. The hot and humid conditions in the greenhouse mimic the natural conditions of its native Sumatra. The enormous corm—which can weigh 200 pounds—is potted on a thin cushion of sand and covered with 2 to 3 inches of fertile soil. The plant must be watered and fertilized copiously—corpse flowers are heavy feeders.
So you can see that these plants are unpredictable and it would be difficult to anticipate when one will bloom next. Even once a corpse flower buds, it is uncertain exactly how quickly it will move to opening. There are some botanical institutions that are more successful with providing the right conditions to encourage flowering. If you follow the news of the gardens and universities that have successfully bloomed one in the past, you will be likely to find the next flower at one of those locations.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information