by Connie Oswald Stofko
Remember Morty, the huge, stinky corpse flower that made its appearance at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in 2014? You can buy a smaller “cousin” of Morty to call your own at the Great Plant Sale.
The voodoo lily, which smells like rotting meat, is one of the new offerings available this year at the Great Plant Sale to be held Thursday through Saturday, May 18-20 at the Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.
Thursday is the day to get the best selection of plants, but that day is for members and volunteers only. There’s a 10 percent discount for members, and you can become a member by signing up here. The Thursday hours are 4 to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday are open to the public. There is no admission charge; the sale is held in the administration building. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
If you bought plants through the pre-order, you’ll pick them up this weekend. And even if you didn’t pre-order, there will be many other interesting plants to choose from.
Plants will be marked according to specific growing conditions so selection will be a breeze, and knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be on hand to help you make your selections.
I’ll have a table there, too, so stop by and say hello!
“We tried our hand this year growing stuff from seed,” said Kristin Pochopin, director of horticulture.
One of the plants they grew from seed was the voodoo lily or Amorphophallus konjac. The Botanical Gardens had a couple of these plants bloom last winter and the staff harvested the seeds.
The voodoo lily is smaller than Morty, which is a corpse flower or Amorphophallus titanum. Morty attained a height of 7 1/2 feet, while the voodoo lilies that bloomed at the Botanical Gardens were only about 4 feet tall.
The voodoo lily plants you buy at the Great Plant Sale will have only leaves, Pochopin said. In the fall, the leaf will die back and dry out. Then a new leaf will appear, or if you’re lucky, a flower will appear.
What does the flower smell like? One summer I threw chicken skins into my kitchen trash can and forgot to empty the can. A few days later, I opened the can. Eew! That’s what this flower smells like.
You can keep the plant outdoors in the summer, but it’s not hardy, so you have to bring it inside over the winter.
It’s an interesting plant. You can find out more about the voodoo lily here.
The castor bean is another plant that the staff started from seed.
“It gets tall with big leaves, and the flowers can be striking,” Pochopin said. “It’s a little different looking. It stands out.”
She likes that it is an easy plant to grow.
“Just put it in the garden and let it go,” Pochopin said. “You don’t have to monkey around with it. We put it out in the Healing Garden (at the Botanical Gardens) and it did well.”
While the castor bean plant can be used medicinally, it can also be poisonous. You may not want to use it in your garden if you have small children around who may ingest the seeds. Read more on this factsheet about the castor plant from Cornell University.
The staff has grown different varieties with leaves that are green, pink or red.
Herbs, veggies & more
Veggie six-packs, which were tried for the first time last year and sold out quickly, are back. You get an assortment of vegetable plants, rather than all one kind, in the six-pack. It’s nice if you have room for only a few vegetable plants and want an assortment.
You’ll see an expanded selection of herbs this year, including some new offerings such as mustard. Mustard is a green that can be used as you would use spinach or Swiss chard.
Other specimens on sale include unusual Japanese maples, native and drought-tolerant rarities, locally grown lilacs, tropical plants and shrubs, plants for sun and shade and lush hanging baskets in new attractive containers.