17 July 2013

Growing Venus' Flytraps

Venus' flytrap in bloom
I posted this photo recently and had several positive responses, and interest in learning how to grow these Carnivorous Plants, Pitcher Plants, Butterwort, Venus' Flytrap, Sarracenia.  There will be duplicates, but these should link to every post.  If you want a guide on growing them yourself, stay tuned.
cool plants.  I looked back through the blog, and, while I had written about carnivorous plants a lot, I hadn't written a how-to guide on growing them.  If you want to read all the other posts about the various carnivorous plants I've written about, they are here:

Much to everyone's amazement, Venus' flytraps are not some strange, exotic plant.  It is native only to the Carolinas, and, according to Wikipedia, probably within a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina.  They are found mostly around crater-like formations known as Carolina Bays, which are located mostly in the same area.  Connections to these bays, which are thought to be caused by meteors, only help theories of their alien origins.  Now, how to grow them.

One of the first mistakes that people make with these plants is that they put them on their windowsill.  Flytraps need full sun to thrive.  Their soil needs to stay moist all the time as well.  Some people use a low-nutrient mixture of half peat and half sand.  Some people use a 50:50 mixture of peat and perlite, but I found that mixture too hard to manage when I was repotting mine.  I potted mine in all peat and they have done fine.  I used the finely ground peat, not the long-fibered sphagnum peat moss that you can get at garden centers.  You shouldn't use garden soil or potting soil, or anything with added nutrients or fertilizer.  Flytraps will get most of their nutrients from the flies that they catch.

You will need to keep them constantly moist, especially during the warmer months, but don't let the water level get too high.  My experience shows that flytraps are more sensitive to the water level than pitcher plants.  Pitcher plants tolerate minor droughts as well as floods fairly well, but flytraps like a more consistent moisture level.  Placing their pot in a saucer of water should be enough for them, as long as there is always water in the saucer or tray.

Another thing they need is a dormancy period during the winter.  Not letting them rest will cause them to weaken and possibly die.  When flytraps are dormant, they don't die back completely, at least where I live.  There will be some green and the traps will be smaller, but it doesn't put a lot of energy into producing traps when there are few insects.

There are any number of opinions about when Venus' flytraps should be repotted.  Some say ever spring, around February, before they begin putting out new growth in the spring.  This can be good, because it freshens up their growing medium, but if you repot only every two years, like I do, you'll be fine.  In fact, I'm not sure when I repotted mine, but it's been probably no more than two years.

If you'd like to read more about flytraps and other carnivorous plants, I recommend the book, The Savage Garden.  It has good information and great photos of every carnivorous plant imaginable.  I hope this has given everyone that wants to grow Venus' flytraps hope that they too can do this as well.  Once their basic growing conditions are met, just sit back and enjoy them after that.

15 July 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

It appears that I took the previous month off - it wasn't intentional, but it happened.  I will remedy that right now.  Welcome to another edition of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where garden bloggers post photos of what's blooming in their yard.

With so many plants growing close to the ground, one doesn't always look up.  It pays to do so when your tallest yucca decides to bloom.  It's tall enough that it makes it hard to get a decent picture.

When we think of American beautyberry, we don't usually think of flowers, but that's what you need if you want berries.  Here they are.

I'm not exactly sure how this is a flower, but this is what the root beer plant does during the summer.  I've never seen any seeds - it actually spreads fairly easily by way of underground stolons, or horizontal roots.

I can always count on my American Bog Lilies to put on a show.  They're in a sometimes shady, overgrown bog area, and when these white flowers appear, they really pop.

The last couple of years I've enjoyed seeing my night-blooming cactus do its thing.  It's in a little less than ideal spot - a little too much sun, but it puts on a show a few times a year now.

I'm not really sure how many different types of day lilies I have, but here's another one.

I thought I had posted a photo of my backyard sunflowers, but it doesn't look like it.  Here's a shot of it, almost fully open, with bees pollinating it.