Great plant picks: Japanese cobra lily

  • Tue Apr 3rd, 2012 3:32pm
  • Life

WHAT: Called the queen of the cobra lilies, Arisaema sikokianum sometimes emerges as early as late March or as late as July. The Japanese cobra lily sprouts with a deep brownish black hooded flower striped in white.

As the flower matures it may have a pure white club shaped “marshmallow” nestled in the center of the bloom.

The cobra lily may also produce seed heads that will ripen to a bright red-orange in early fall.

The alien-looking large leaves are similar to a trillium, but are bright green in color and can sometimes be splashed with silver.

WHY PLANT IT: This exotic-looking deciduous perennial adds glamour to the garden with its unusual appearance. The dramatic brown or purple flower is striking against a green backdrop.

WHERE: Arisaemas prefer light to open shade and require regular watering in summer. They grow best in a rich well-drained soil, preferring a sandy loose soil. Do not bury the tuber too deep, it will grow best when the top is covered by an inch or less of loose sandy soil and compost.

ACTUAL SIZE: Reaches about 1¾ feet high by ½-foot wide.