Dracunculus vulgaris

Dragon Lily, Dragon Arum, Black Arum, Vampire Lily

From £10.95

Looking to add a touch of mystery and magic to your garden this year? Then look no further than the Dracunculus vulgaris – also known as the Dragon Arum or Dragon Lily. These fiery lilies will certainly add a touch of drama to your borders, with their huge red-purple blooms appearing from May onwards.

The massive carmine hooded spathes and long, black central ‘finger’ (spadix) are bound to turn heads, and you’ll love the dramatic impact they have in your garden. Plant a few of these magical lilies in a sunny border and enjoy their otherworldly beauty all summer long.

Origin: Balkans and the Mediterranean region
Genus: Dracunculus
Species / Cultivar: vulgaris
Common Name: Dragon Lily, Dragon Arum, Black Arum, Vampire Lily

Plant Biography

Dracunculus vulgaris is a species of aroid flowering plant in the genus Dracunculus and the arum family Araceae. Despite its surreal, perhaps tropical, appearance, is is actually native to the Balkans and the Mediterranean region.

The Dragon Lily’s most notable feature is, of course, its large and distinct flower. This flower is reminiscent of that of the Peace Lily, hence its common name, but is large and purple to maroon in colour.

The smell of the flower, however, does not match its magnificent look. It produces quite an unpleasant odour to attract flies as pollinators. Fortunately this smell only lasts a few days before it dissipates.

Dracunculus vulgaris
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Growth Rate: Fast
Expect to see prolific growth, especially during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Maintenance: Low
Minimal skill or input needed beyond the basics, a very independent plant.
Situation: Full Sun to Part Shade
Enjoys direct sun most of the day, but tolerant of fewer sunlit hours or light dappling.
Eventual Height: 1m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Half Hardy
Will need protection from frosts in order to survive winter, eg. with fleece jacket.
Habit: Deciduous
Sheds all its foliage annually, so for a period of the year it will be without foliage.
Lifecycle: Perennial
This plant is persistant and does not die off after flowering. It will return each season indefinitely, if provided with suitable growing conditions.

Plant factoid

The Dragon Lilly is one of the very few plants that have the ability to heat itself to a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius, to allow its scent to be carried away further and attract insects to pollinate the flower.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

The Dracunculus vulgaris is a deciduous plant, coming back from underground tubers every spring. Plant the bulbs in hummus rich soils, about 5 – 10 cm deep. Water in immediately after planting.

Though hardy enough, a layer of mulch will provide an extra protection to the tubers in winter. You may want to take out the tubers just before winter in colder areas where the soil is prone to freezing.

Huge carmine-red flowers come out in April – May providing a dramatic and exotic look to any garden. We suggest planting the Dragon Lily far away from windows, towards the back of the garden, so that for the few days after it potently blooms, it’s easily avoidable.

Expert Tip

The plant's foliage can cause irritation if touched (or eaten!), avoid keeping it in the reach of children.

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