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Corpse flower ready to bloom at Roseville High

Domek Greenhouse open to public to view (and smell) rare titan arum


Tall vase-shaped corpse flower bloom
The corpse flower is about 6 feet tall, nearly ready
to bloom. (Photo courtesy Photo is by C.J. Addington)


Something’s stinky in Roseville. Head towards Roseville High School and look inside the Gene Domek Greenhouse.

That’s where you’ll find one of the rarest of blooms – a 6-foot-tall titan arum, also known as a corpse flower. With a smell and look like no other, the mammoth flower is expected to fully open Tuesday or Wednesday. Although it takes a decade or more for a titan arum to flower, the bloom itself lasts only a day.

To celebrate, the Domek Greenhouse will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 22. If that ginormus flower does indeed open, the greenhouse will stay open until 9 p.m. Admission is free.

To a receive a free, automatic text alert that the flower has opened, simply text the word "corpseflower" to 52855. It will not ask for any personal information.

Though unintentional, the corpse flower’s appearance is perfectly timed; this is Pollinators Week. And this flower smells the way it does to attract its favorite pollinators – flies.

When it comes to growing titan arum, the Domek Greenhouse staff has had unusual success coaxing corpse flower fully into bloom. This is the school’s fifth one.

“This is quite an achievement for a simple suburban high school, as these titanic flowers are usually only seen at large universities and well-funded botanical gardens,” said greenhouse manager C.J. Addington. “What makes this particular bloom even more unusual is that it is a repeat bloom. This plant successfully bloomed back in September of 2020, and has now made a second flower less than a year after its first.”

Titan arum, or Amorphophallus titanum , can be almost impossible to grow in Sacramento. Even under greenhouse conditions, small things can disrupt the bloom cycle. A security light left on outside the greenhouse stopped one flower from fully opening.

“These huge plants originate in the steamy jungles of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and are extremely difficult to bring to bloom,” Addington explained. “One plant can take a decade to reach flowering size from seed, and when it finally does bloom, the massive flower only opens for one day before closing up again.”

The tuber for this specimen, nicknamed Titan Arum Thing II, weighed almost 40 pounds and measured more than a foot across. The entire process, from planting to bloom, is documented by Addington at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/norcalaroids/albums/72157719311111513

“These finicky blooms do not always successfully open – and we have had two that have failed in the past,” Addington said, “but this plant has bloomed successfully once already, and we are optimistic that it will again.”

Depending on the flower’s condition, the greenhouse may extend viewing into Wednesday.

“The greenhouse is not normally open to the public, but due to the unique opportunity to see this botanical wonder, we are opening our doors to the general public for free viewings before the flower opens, and then for extended hours when it blooms,” Addington said.

The Gene Domek Greenhouse is in the central square of Roseville High, located at 1 Tiger Way, Roseville. Parking is available in the lot at the end of Campo Street on the west side of campus. Enter through the gate next to the swimming pool. The campus asks visitors to please practice social distancing; masks are at your discretion.

To view the corpse flower without the stench, check it out on YouTube. To see a live video of the flower in the greenhouse, search YouTube for "Roseville High School Corpse Flower" and look for the red "Live Now" tag.

For more information, contact Addington at caddington@rjuhsd.us .

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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