The way to Plant, Develop, and Care For Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Anyone who loves those early spring wildflowers that carpet the woodlands of North America will appreciate the Jack-in-the-pulpit plant. This is a fascinating spring ephemeral wildflower. Spring ephemerals are those flowering plants that emerge early in the season for a brief period of flowering and then go dormant again for the rest of the season. Jack-in-the-pulpit is native to moist woodlands throughout eastern North America, and if you’re lucky, you can grow one in your own shade garden.

Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, is a member of the Arum family (Araceae), which comprises mostly tropical plant species. There are just a handful of Arisaema species native to the United States, and the Jack-in-the-pulpit is, by far, the most common. You can sometimes find these plants for sale at nurseries specializing in native plants. You’ll only need one because they will slowly spread and can be further propagated if you ever want to expand your collection.

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants emerge in early spring, providing showy vegetation for just a few months from early spring until early summer. During this time, watch for the fascinating, cup-like flowers with their hooded tops. Take a peek inside the flower, and you’ll see the “Jack” in his pulpit! After flowering, the plant goes dormant again unless it has produced a mass of bright red fruits, which linger until fall. 

These plants are an ideal addition to your native shade garden. If you want to try growing your own Jack-in-the-pulpit plants, let’s dig into more details about how you can help them thrive in your landscape.


Plant Type

Herbaceous perennial

Native Area

Central and Eastern North America

USDA Hardiness Zone

4 – 9

Sun Exposure

Partial to full shade

Soil Type

Rich, Moist, Well-drained

Watering Requirements


Suggested Uses

Shade garden, native plant garden


Birds, pollinators

Resistant To

Deer, rabbits, heavy shade

Plant Spacing

1 – 2 feet

Plant Natural History

Jack-in-the-pulpit showcases a curious, pitcher-like flower with a protective hood over a central spike, framed by broad, divided leaves.Native to North America, this perennial thrives in woodland habitats.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is a long-lived perennial native to the central and eastern United States and Canada. It grows in moist, deciduous woodlands throughout its range, preferring lowland forests with rich soils. It typically grows alongside an assortment of other spring-blooming wildflowers, including trilliums, spring beauties, and Mayapples. 

This herbaceous perennial wildflower is part of a group of spring-blooming plants known as spring ephemerals. These plants bloom in early spring, and then the above-ground leaves, stems, and flowers wither and die back to remain dormant for the rest of the growing season. The thick corm-like roots remain alive and well below the soil surface.

Jack-in-the-pulpit was used as a food source, although it should be noted that all parts of this plant are poisonous unless they are properly prepared. These plants also provide a food source for birds and other small animals as they forage on the ripe fruits. Jack-in-the-pulpit is an important part of the forest ecosystem, and wild plants should not be removed from their natural habitat.


Close-up of a Jack-in-the-pulpit flower illuminated by sunlight; the plant's distinctive flower consists of a tall, tubular spathe that encloses a spadix, with wide, three-lobed leaves.This spring gem adds charm to any shaded garden.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is a showy wildflower for your springtime shade garden. In early spring, the leaves begin to emerge, starting the brief growing season for these plants. Each plant produces just two or three stems that emerge from the base. At the end of each stem is a broad arrangement of three equally sized and spaced leaflets. The leaves are typically solid green with prominent central and lateral veins. 

A final, central stem between the leaf stem becomes the flowering stalk. Jack-in-the-pulpit has very unusual spring-blooming flowers. When you examine these inflorescences, you will notice a cup-like part with a prominent hood. This cup-like flower part is known as the spathe (it’s the “pulpit”). The inner flower part is called the spadix and looks like a rounded stalk. This is the “Jack” who sits inside his hooded pulpit. 

After blooming, the leaves die back, and the entire plant goes dormant for the remainder of the year, re-emerging again the following spring. If, however, a mature plant produces pollinated fruits, these remain standing as a mass of bright red berry-like fruits, fully maturing by late summer or early fall.  

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants grow from thick tuberous roots. These are relatively slow-growing, but they will spread over time, creating attractive colonies. You won’t need to worry about these plants becoming invasive in your garden, as they are very well-behaved. A colony of Jack-in-the-pulpits consisting of several lush, green, healthy plants is a very attractive addition to your landscape. 


If you already have a mature Jack-in-the-pulpit plant, you should have no trouble propagating it. You will, however, need to wait a few years for it to either produce seeds and self-sow or develop some new side growth from the roots that you can then dig and divide. Either way, patience is key. 


The Arisaema triphyllum seed pod features a dense cluster of vibrant red berries, each gleaming brightly against the backdrop of fading green foliage.With time and patience, seeds self-sow and thrive.

You can grow these plants from seed, but this is a rather slow process. Seeds will self-sow from mature plants. With a little patience, you will see these seeds germinate and develop into mature plants.

Plants grown from seed, however, can take up to four or five years to reach flowering maturity. When you have several seedlings sprouting up around in your Jack-in-the-pulpit patch, you can easily dig them up and transplant them to new locations. 


The jack-in-the-pulpit presents an intriguing floral structure with a hooded spathe sheltering a spadix, set amidst broad, green, three-part leaves.Expand your garden by dividing and transplanting offshoots.

Division is the quickest and easiest method to propagate Jack-in-the-pulpit plants. These plants slowly spread by corms and rhizomes. When you have several plants growing together, wait until early spring to dig up a few of the offshoots and transplant them to new locations.

Make sure each plant you dig has a thick, tuber-like root with some smaller roots attached, as well as a stem or stem bud, so make sure you’re getting a complete plant. You can then expand your population of Jack-in-the-pulpit plants or share them with gardening friends. 


The young Arisaema triphyllum leaves emerge as glossy, bright green, trifoliate structures with each leaflet displaying a smooth, lance-shaped form and pronounced central veins.Transplant your Jack-in-the-pulpit early in spring for success.

Do you have a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant growing in a pot, or are you dividing a larger clump? Plan to do your transplanting early in the spring if you can. You will catch these plants just as they are starting to come back to life and they will be ready to grow in their new homes.

First, select an ideal site for your transplants. Then, prepare the planting site by removing any weeds or other competing vegetation in the immediate vicinity. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the roots of your plant or the pot in which it’s currently growing. 

Carefully remove the plant from the pot and place it into the hole. Arrange your plant so the top of the rhizome sits just below the soil surface. Finally, cover the roots with fresh soil and water your plant well to help it settle into its new home. Keep your new transplants well-watered for the first couple of months, especially anytime there is a lack of regular rainfall. 

How to Grow

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are surprisingly easy to grow. If you can provide ideal growing conditions, you should have no trouble with maintaining a healthy population of Jack-in-the-pulpit plants in your moist woodland garden.


The Arisaema triphyllum's unusual bloom features a curved spathe that arches over a spadix, surrounded by glossy, trifoliate leaves with prominent veins.Create an ideal shaded spot for thriving growth!

A shaded site is critical for a Jack-in-the-pulpit plant to thrive. Jack-in-the-pulpit plants will do remarkably well in partial to full shade, with three hours or less of direct sunlight. If you have a woodland garden with indirect, dappled light, this is ideal. Don’t try to grow your Jack-in-the-pulpits in full sun. Prolonged, direct sunlight is too intense and will burn the sensitive leaves.


The Arisaema triphyllum plant is covered with raindrops in a forest garden, producing a striped, protective spathe that shelters a spadix and stands out among its large, trifoliate leaves.Find a spot with naturally moist soil for ideal growth.

Choose a location that naturally has moist soil. The soil shouldn’t be wet, but it also shouldn’t be completely dry. When your plant is just getting established, you’ll want to water it regularly to keep it moist. After the first few months, you shouldn’t have to worry about extra watering unless you are experiencing prolonged drought and the soil is at risk of becoming completely dry.


Close-up of a woman's hands with a handful of fresh, loose soil of a dark brown, almost black color.Choose nutrient-rich, well-draining soil for optimal growth conditions.

Jack-in-the-pulpit needs rich, moist soil with good drainage. Natural woodland soil conditions are typically fine since these are the conditions to which these plants are naturally adapted. As you prepare a site, go ahead and add some organic compost to enrich the soil. These plants won’t grow well in heavy clay soils or sandy soils.

Climate and Temperature

The flower of the jack-in-the-pulpit is a green and purple-striped spathe covering a spadix, nestled within a cluster of broad, divided leaves.Thrives in Zones 4 – 9 with moist, shaded environments.

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 – 9. They withstand freezing winters and hot summers as long as they are growing in a moist and shaded location. 


Featuring a tubular spathe that arches protectively over a spadix, the jack-in-the-pulpit is framed by glossy, three-parted leaves in a shady garden among young plants.No need for additional fertilizers, as they’re naturally well-adapted.

You won’t need to add any extra fertilizers to your Jack-in-the-pulpit plants. These native wildflowers are perfectly well adapted to natural growing conditions with average forest soils. Mulching your plants with biodegradable materials also naturally adds nutrients to your soil.


Sun shines through deciduous forest with a Jack-in-the-Pulpit plant forming a unique bloom, consisting of a striped, hooded spathe over a spadix, and complemented by its broad, trifoliate leaves.Leave the fallen leaves for natural, low-maintenance winter protection.

If you are growing your Jack-in-the-pulpit in a woodland shade garden, allow the leaves to stay on the ground each fall and winter. This natural leaf mulch is low-maintenance, free, and extremely beneficial to your native plants.

The leaves provide a layer of winter protection and help keep the roots moist. As the leaves break down, they naturally help enrich the soil and improve the growing conditions for your woodland plants. 


Close-up of a human hand touching Arisaema triphyllum which boasts a unique flower with a striped, hooded spathe enveloping a slender spadix.Maintain by thinning and weeding for a tidy woodland garden.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is a fairly low-maintenance plant. You’ll want to keep an eye on it while it’s growing to make sure it looks healthy. If colonies grow larger than you want, go ahead and thin them back to your desired preferences.

Pull out any weeds that try to invade your wildflower garden. This will not only improve the looks of your woodland garden by keeping it tidy, but you will also greatly help reduce competition from aggressively growing invaders. 

Garden Design

The Arisaema triphyllum boasts a unique flower with a striped, hooded spathe enveloping a slender spadix, accompanied by large, trifoliate leaves that are glossy and bright green.Enhance your woodland garden with complementary long-season foliage.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is an ideal choice for a natural-looking woodland garden. Since it is a spring ephemeral wildflower, it will die back and go dormant by mid-summer. You will, therefore, appreciate having some long-season greenery nearby to keep your woodland gardening looking lush and alive. Try growing a few other spring ephemeral wildflowers nearby for a spectacularly early-season display. 

For a native plant garden, pair Jack-in-the-pulpit and your other spring flowers with some native woodland ferns for long-season interest. If you aren’t focusing on native plants, try growing hostas for some beautiful summer greenery that reaches its peak just as the Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are fading away. Place your Jack-in-the-pulpits in a prominent location so you won’t miss their short-lived peak. Mature plants that set fruits display their showy red berries throughout the summer.


Not every native wildflower has interesting cultivars, but Jack-in-the-pulpit does. Check out some of these fascinating variations with equally showy leaves and flowers. There are also a few other North American species of Arisaema that grow in similar conditions. 

‘Black Jack,’ Arisaema triphyllum ‘Black Jack’

The Arisaema triphyllum ‘Black Jack’ is striking with its dark purple, nearly black spathe enveloping a contrasting pale spadix, accompanied by large, glossy, trifoliate leaves.Dramatic dark foliage with vibrant accents characterizes this variety.

‘Black Jack’ is probably the most dramatic of the Jack-in-the-pulpit cultivars. This plant has extremely dark green leaves and stems that verge on black. The flower spathe (outer ‘Pulpit’) is bright green at the base, with a black hood punctuated by bright green veins. 

‘Mrs. French,’ Arisaema triphyllum ‘Mrs. French’

The Arisaema triphyllum ‘Mrs. French’ features a distinctive, elegantly striped green and white spathe that arches over a pale spadix, complemented by large, glossy, trifoliate leaves.With shiny dark leaves and pale green veins, ‘Mrs. French’ stands out.

The ‘Mrs. French’ cultivar is appealing with shiny, dark green leaves. The leaves have prominent pale green veins. Similarly, the outer flower spathe is pale green with prominent white veins. ‘Mrs. French’ is very similar in appearance to ‘Starburst.’

‘Starburst,’ Arisaema triphyllum ‘Starburst’

The Arisaema triphyllum ‘Starburst’ showcases large, glossy, trifoliate leaves with prominently veined, lance-shaped leaflets.Distinguished by intricate veins, this cultivar illuminates spring landscapes.

‘Starburst’ is a beautiful cultivar with dramatically veined leaves. Its dark green leaves have many contrasting pale green veins which give them an almost variegated appearance. This variety tends to be a vigorous grower and is sure to liven up your spring landscape.

‘Green Dragon’ Arisaema dracontium

The Arisaema dracontium, or green dragon, features large, deeply divided leaves that resemble an outstretched hand.A unique variant with a distinct leaf and inflorescence structure.

‘Green Dragon’ is similar to common Jack-in-the-pulpit, yet also drastically different. It has a large, compound leaf with at least seven leaflets (compared to the typical three leaflets). The inflorescence is also notably different. Rather than a hooded spathe that encloses the spadix, the spadix extends well beyond the hooded spathe. 

Five-leaf Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema quinatum

Arisaema quinatum presents a captivating floral structure with a slender, elongated spadix enclosed by a hooded spathe, complemented by its distinctive palmate leaves.A close relative with an extra leaflet distinction.

The five-leaf Jack-in-the-pulpit overlaps the natural range of the Jack-in-the-pulpit (A. triphyllum) throughout the southeastern United States. This species, however, has five leaflets but otherwise looks very similar to the three-leaved variety, including very similar-looking flowers.

Wildlife Value

The Arisaema triphyllum in full sun, also known as Jack-in-the-pulpit, features a distinctive hooded flower that encloses a spadix, and has three-part leaves that are glossy and green.Nature’s subtle pollination with rewards for birds and mammals.

Jack-in-the-pulpit isn’t known for attracting pollinators like butterflies or honeybees. In fact, fungus gnats are the primary pollinators of these flowers. The ripe, red fruits provide a food source for birds and small mammals. Foraging herbivores, such as deer and rabbits, don’t eat these plants.  

Common Problems

The Arisaema amurense features a distinctive flower with a pale green, hooded spathe enveloping a slender spadix, accompanied by broad, trifoliate leaves with deeply veined, lance-shaped leaflets.Handle with care due to toxicity.

Jack-in-the-pulpit is generally trouble-free when grown in natural woodland conditions. You shouldn’t have any problems with pests or diseases. Do be aware, however, that all parts of the Jack-in-the-pulpit plant are considered toxic if ingested. Sap from the leaves, stems, and fruits can also cause skin irritations, so consider wearing gloves when handling your Jack-in-the-pulpit plants. 

Final Thoughts

Jack-in-the-pulpit is a wonderful woodland garden plant. These native beauties provide plenty of garden interest and something to look forward to each spring. The flowers are especially unusual and make for an interesting focal point.

Pair Jack-in-the-pulpit plants with long-season perennials and other shade-loving greenery, such as hardy ferns, to provide a diverse assortment of vegetation that will delight from early spring through late fall. You won’t be able to grow Jack-in-the-pulpit in every garden setting, but if you have a shaded plot with moist soil, this plant is sure to be a star!

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