25 September 2010

Third Annual Fall Park Circle Plant Swap

Today was the 3rd Annual Fall Park Circle Plant Swap. I've been looking forward to this for...well. since the spring plant swap! I didn't do a lot of growing specifically for the swap, but I ended up having a number of things that I was able to take as is. There was a growing number of garden-related items being brought for people to take, so I had a number of things in that area - old tools, pots, books and magazines. I guess there wasn't much of a trend, because I think I was the only one to bring any of that stuff this time.

Getting rid of the books and unused tools was great for me - like a fall purging of junk. I had a few plants that I felt the same way about too. This morning I got rid of most of my water irises around the pond. It's real hard to contain them and by the fall, they are just trying to take over. I still have some in my waterfall filter, but all of them in the bog are gone - at least I think so.

I might have mentioned this before, but I was dividing and repotting succulents a few weeks ago - most of those went to the swap. I got some hibiscus from a neighbor in the spring, and have had it in a container of water since - minus what Robin wants to keep and what my neighbor Joan wants, I took the rest to the swap - about four pieces. I changed my mind about a few things I could have taken - if I don't want them, they can always go to the next swap. I also took the smaller Hymenocallis that I divided earlier this year - I still have twenty left.
I gathered up everything and got there a few minutes after 10am, when the set-up started - the actual swap wasn't until 11am. I wanted to get there a little early so I could socialize a little - I always do too much talking and not enough looking. When I got there, there were about 10 cars and hundreds of plants - I couldn't believe it. I unloaded my plants and stuff and started to look around, but ended up doing a good bit of socializing - catching up with friends and neighbors, helping other people with plant identification where I could. Eventually I got around to looking at plants.

Like the last few times, I wasn't excited about what I saw - there were some things we could use when we do our landscaping in the near future, but nothing that jumped out at me. I remember feeling this way at the last swap, but ended up being very happy with what we got at the end - I hoped today would be the same. When Robin showed up I was able share my ideas about which plants we might want to try to get. One good thing about not being overly excited about many of the plants, is that there is no disappointment when you don't get the plants you want.

I was interested in a couple of hostas and ajuga. Robin found a couple of ferns. There were a number of bromeliads that I considered, but I already neglect the ones I have - same goes for the night-blooming cereus. We got the ferns and the hostas and the ajuga - Amy Dabbs, who brought the ajuga, said I could have more if I ever needed it. After several rounds of grabbing plants, we started running out of plants we definitely wanted - I laughed a little bit when I saw Robin grab plants that I had brought, until I did the same thing a few minutes later! I was impressed by what we ended up with - a lot of what Robin grabbed, I didn't even see! We got a lot for the landscape: rug juniper, liriope, hosta, ajuga, society garlic. A couple of curiosities - pregnant onion, bed of nails. A couple of things that I'll repot and give away - dwarf papyrus, aloe, spider plant.

I was very pleased with our haul and I feel like we will get more use out of these that any other plant swap we've been to. Now it's time to get planting.

05 September 2010


I repotted all of my carnivorous plants today. They had become overgrown in the 18-inch container I had all of them in. One of them, the butterwort, was getting overrun by the Sarracenia purpurea. Originally, I was only going to take out a few and repot, but I ended up repotting every plant, including the butterwort.

I bought the butterwort on a whim last year. I was at Lowes looking at clearance plants and there it was, for $0.48, I believe. When I got home, I took it out of its cube and sat it in a shady area of the bog and then eventually planted it with the rest of the carnivorous plants. I was saying in an earlier post about handling some so small and seemingly fragile - and a little sticky. This was no exception. That was the main reason I was going to leave it in there and not repot it. I lost a few rosettes in the transplant, but it's still pretty big. Who knows how many rosettes it has now. As you can see, it started out with only a couple. To give it room to grow, I put it in a seven-inch pot. I hope that's ok for the next year or so.

Sarracenia "Judith Hindle"

I repotted all of my carnivorous plants today. They had become overgrown in the 18-inch container I had all of them in. One of the pitcher plants - Sarracenia "Judith Hindle" had grown so much, that it's now in a 12-inch pot of its own.

I got these from Lowes about two years ago - they were in one of those "death cubes" that they sell carnivorous plants in. There's a post on another site I found about "surviving the cube" here.
The first six months or so, I managed not to kill them. I had these along with probably tow other pitcher plants in a pot that was maybe six or seven inches wide at the most.

These are so big now that I'm definitely going to divide them in the spring. Any of my friends that want any of these, speak up now!

More About Repotting Carnivorous Plants

I still consider myself a novice when it comes to carnivorous plants. I've gotten lucky with a couple of
species, but outside of those, I don't have a lot of confidence. I was hesitant to initiate this recent trade because of my lack of experience with Venus flytraps and sundews. I told myself that I really needed to study these plants before I decided on a course of action.

When I got them in the mail, they looked pretty decent, larger and possibly healthier than the ones you can buy at Lowes - known as "death cubes" to CP enthusiasts. I knew I had to take care of them for a week or two before I had time to repot them, so I kept them in a mostly shady spot and made sure they didn't dry out. It wasn't until this weekend that had time to tackle this task.

I remember when I got my first CPs. I was so nervous about handling them too roughly. I've gotten better about that now - they may be small, but you shouldn't be afraid to handle them. So, on to repotting - I was originally looking for some nice pots to put these plants in, but I didn't have nearly enough for all, so I settled for plastic pots a little larger than the ones they came in. Once they're in a better environment, I won't worry about them, and I can take my time figuring out what kind of pots to put them in.

The CPs all came in 3-inch pots - the Venus flytraps in a clumpy Sphagnum peat moss and the others in a peat/perlite mix. The pots were only half full, possibly to save weight or to better protect the plants during shipping. I spent some time trimming the dead parts and firming up the soil, hoping to get a solid mass when I pulled it out of the pot. For the most part it worked out that way. I noticed the peat used for the flytraps wasn't nearly as finely milled as the kind I was using. This may sound weird, but it was sort of the consistency of barbecue, stringy pieces as well a small clumps - not very easy to work with when your plants are fairly small. So I transplanted them into 4-inch pots and, for lack of a better place to put them, sat them part of the way into the water in the bog. This should be a good environment for them - mostly sunny, moist and humid. I hope they thrive there.

Repotting Carnivorous Plants

This isn't something I would do in September, but I have my reasons. The five carnivorous plants I have were getting overcrowded in their 18 1/2 inch pot. They looked ok back in April when they were blooming, but they must have grown like crazy in the summer. My goal for today was to repot those five and to do something with the twelve that I got in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

At first I thought I had taken on more than I could handle in an afternoon. I had to use a wheelbarrow to move where I had my repotting operation set up. Once I started digging the individual plants out, I realized I had underestimated the size of the pots I would need. Then I would run out of peat and have to prepare some more, by soaking the dry, shredded peat in a container of water.

My original plan was to remove a couple of plants from the large container and replace them with the two smaller pitcher plants I got in the swap. Also, I hadn't decided exactly what I was going to do with my new sundews and Venus flytraps. After I potted up the first couple of plants, I decided I would do the same for all five and put them back in the bog. Although they definitely could be divided, I'm going to wait until spring.

I did all of this the same as before. I took pots with drainage holes and put landscape fabric in the bottom, so they would soak up water without losing any of the potting medium - moistened, shredded Sphagnum peat moss. I'll be writing more about this in the next few posts, so stay tuned.

04 September 2010

Plants Swaps

I was involved in a interesting plant swap recently. There was a post on the Carnivorous Plants page of Gardenweb - someone was looking to trade a dozen carnivorous plants for any number of things - irises, coins, etc. I've been wanting a Venus flytrap, but I haven't been willing to pay for one, since I'm not 100% sure I know how to make it thrive. I saw this as an opportunity to get something for essentially nothing.

I emailed about my irises, but they weren't the kind he was looking for. He asked if I had any old coins - I did, but I wasn't sure what I had and I wasn't sure I wanted to part with any of them. I found my coins - I had wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, silver Jefferson nickels, Mercury dimes, silver Roosevelt dimes and silver Franklin and Liberty half dollars, and other miscellaneous coins.

After a little negotiating, we came to an agreement - half of the Roosevelt dimes and half of the half dollars for the dozen carnivorous plants. From what I know about each of the items in the trade, it was an even swap.

Once the plants arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. They were packed well and looked like I had hoped. There were two pitcher plants, four sundews and six Venus flytraps. Since receiving these plants, I've been reading everything I can find on carnivorous plants - I want to make sure I do everything right. I feel comfortable with the pitcher plants - I already have some of those and they are thriving.

Getting the plants in the mail sent me on a mission to round up all of my pots to figure out which pots I would put these plants in. I started two piles in the driveway - pots with drainage holes and pots without. I thought I would need pots without for carnivorous plants, but after a little reading, that doesn't seem to be the case. Venus flytraps don't like to be swimming, and I'm not sure what to do with the sundews yet.

While I was de facto organizing my garden area, I started thinking about plants I wanted to repot and divisions I wanted to make, to get ready for the plant swap in a few weeks. I repotted some succulents and a cactus. I divided my aloe and Euphorbia tirucalli "Fire Sticks". I've got a lot more that I can do and I'll probably do a lot over the Labor Day weekend.