I like Sarracenias, otherwise known as Pitcher Plants.
Almost all carnivorous plants are found in very poor, usually wet soils in which the mineral levels required by plants to grow healthily are quite low. Often these are acid boglands on mountains or in swamps.
In the case of Sarracenias, the plants have evolved to adapt to the very poor mineral content of their growing conditions by developing modified leaves which not only attract insects with a nectar solution, but also render the insect into a stupor so it cannot withstand the slippery surface below the available nectar and drops down into the trap and is prevented from escaping by the development of downward facing hairs around the throat.
The insect then eventually dies and is digested, (sometimes in a watery solution within the pitcher tube, sometimes its dry), by bacterial activity and the minerals from the insect are absorbed by the plant.
Just about any insect which is attracted to the nectar can fall victim, I’ve seen Ants, Flies, Wasps, Moth all jammed in the tubes.
This picture shows what happens sometime when the developing insect soup becomes so caustic to the plant it literally burns a hole in the tube wall.
The Sarracenias, are found throughout the Americas, and are also refered to the North American Pitcher Plant.
The UK only has 9 native Carnivorous plants, none of which are Sarracenia species.
I currently have 29 different species of Sarracenia, and I keep them in an unheated greenhouse in my garden, although they can do just as well out in the open, I find in an unheated greenhouse they get protection from harsh winds and hailstorms which do batter the leaves, and under glass I have control of how much water they get.
Lots of ventilation is also a must so fungus diseases are reduced, and of course I want to make sure all the insects can get in.!
The plants die down in the winter, as this happens, more blogs will follow.
I have my plants standing in a couple of centimeters of rainwater as this helps mimic the boggy conditions they would normally be used to.
In the cooler winter months they are allowed to dry out a little more, again to mimic natural conditions.
The plants grow from rhizomes, and can withstand frosts, it varies from species to species as to how low they can go.
They must only receive soft water, and in most parts of the UK this means RAINWATER only, being mindful of this I now have 7 rain butts connected to my greenhouses and shed, however it never seems enough.
Ordinary tap water is poisonous to carnivorous plants, and because of this it is unwise to purchase any plant from a Garden Centre as more often that not they have been watered with tap water, as a result the plant starts a slow decline and the unsuspecting customer thinks they have killed off their purchase, when in-fact the plant was poisoned before they paid for it.
Boiled water is not a substitute for rainwater.!
In my experience it is alway better to spend your hard-earned cash with a grower who knows what the plant needs and is happy to give advice.
The areoles are the white ‘spots’ which allow extra light in tricking the insect into thinking its out in the open whilst taking nectar.
A good compost mix to use for Sarracenias must not contain any nutrients, so many growers use peat.
I use a peat, perlite, horticultural sand mix which is at the ratio of 4 parts peat, 2 parts perlite and 1 part Horticultural/silver sand. But make sure the sand is specified lime free.
Every tube is full of buzzy sadness.
A quick peek at all the babies I have growing, the seeds are crosses done by a grower and I paid for the resulting seeds from those crosses. Every seedling is going to be a variant of its parent and slightly different from all the other seedlings.
So that was a quick peek at my plants.!
Watch this space for more updates….