Aroids: These Curious-Looking Plants Have an Addictive Appeal
Recently, aroid-tattooed next-generation gardeners have been showing up at Plant Delights Nursery open houses in North Carolina, something that Tony Avent, the nursery's founder, credits to the current houseplant craze. Mr. Avent met his first Arum family member, a native Southeastern species of jack-in-the-pulpit, while exploring the North Carolina woodlands as a child. For spots with very moist soil or shallow standing water, Mr. Avent said, consider the bold, tropical-looking leaves of the green arrow arum, a native that he thinks is underused by gardeners. Tuberous Types For those interested in venturing beyond the herbaceous aroids of the windowsill, the next logical step, Mr. Avent suggested, is trying some tuberous types: the Arisaema, callas, caladiums and elephant ears, as well as the less familiar voodoo lilies. The nonprofit Juniper Level Botanic Garden that Mr. Avent founded on 28 acres surrounding Plant Delights - housing 28,000 taxa, including 2,099 aroids - is part of the effort. A long tail may extend from the tip of the spathe or spadix, "a guide into the flower that they land on, then crawl along into where the food is," Mr. Avent said. Mr. Avent is also eager to increase the availability of well-behaved hybrids of the Asian genus Pinellia, "Like jack-in-the-pulpits that flower all summer," he said.