Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 20, 2007

From: Cleveland, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care for non-native indoor plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My cousin in Pa. asked me to see how to care for 2 plants in the winter. The first is a Voo Doo Lily and the second is a Bengal Tiger plant. If you would please help I would be able to pass it along.


Neither of these plants is native to North America, which is what we really care about here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. However, when we can, we do try to help out with non-native house plants. Most indoor plants are non-native because of the need for less light, etc.

The Voodoo Lily, also known as Amorphophallus with a number of sub-species, originated mostly in the Far East, including China and North Vietnam. It would seem that the best thing about the voodoo lily is that it is dormant in winter, when it would need to be brought inside in Pennsylvania. When it blooms (in warm weather), it STINKS. This is apparently to attract flies, who act as pollinators to the plant. The plants are very striking and sometimes huge when they bloom, so perhaps that balances out the bad smell of the flowers.

As it happens, there are cannas native to North America, but they have been so extensively hybridized that it would be difficult to trace their origins. However, the Bengal Tiger Lily is a a subtropical. North of USDA Zone 7, it must be treated as an expensive annual or dug and wintered over indoors.



More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native textile bamboo for Austin?
June 24, 2011 - I was looking for a non-invasive bamboo to plant as a privacy screen in central Austin. Would bambusa textilis (weavers bamboo) be an ok solution since it is a clumping bamboo instead of running?
view the full question and answer

Plant for eastern facing side of house in Washington
August 26, 2008 - I was considering putting some Lily of the Nile in front of the eastern facing side of my home. Is this plant a suitable choice for planting here in Eastern Washington?
view the full question and answer

Non-native house plants stressed from Allen TX
July 30, 2011 - I have three house plants that were plants I received from my father's funeral services. They were healthy for about two years and then we added some soil and now they are turning brown and appear t...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Growing Citrus Trees in Glendora CA
August 16, 2012 - We're considering moving to Glendora, CA (from the East Coast) and wondered if it is possible to successfully grow orange and other citrus trees that far inland? Any advice you can offer will be muc...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.