Growing carnivorous plants

Venus fly traps and more in my little shop of horrors

   Jan 03

Preparing carnivorous plants for the winter

Originally posted 2014-12-10 11:24:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

Why do carnivorous plants eat insects?

English: Sarracenia leucophylla (pitcher plant...

Most plants get their nourishment from sunshine, water and the soil. However carnivorous plants such as venus fly traps, pitcher plants and sundews evolved in areas where the soil was poor, so minerals and nutrients were hard to find. By adapting over time, insectivorous plants learned that they could still get the food they needed, even in poor quality soil, by instead luring and trapping the insects that land on them in search of nectar.

The different types of carnivorous plants do this in a variety of ways, from snapping shut when they sense an insect land (e.g. venus fly trap), creating a slippery surface so that insects that land fall into a tall tube (e.g. sarracenia), to being incredibly sticky so that anything that lands on the leaves cannot fly or crawl back off (e.g. butterwort).

Once the insect is caught, the plant starts to digest it until it has absorbed all the nutrients it can extract from it. The boggy environments in which they often grow in the wild have plenty of sunlight and water to offer, but the soil is incredibly limited in the amount of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other nutrients it can provide. Because of this, the evolved ability of these plants to trap and digest any insects unfortunate enough to cross their paths, rather than relying on absorbing nutrients from the ground, has been vital to their survival.

Of course, it is also worth noting that these plants do not actually “eat” insects. They trap, digest and absorb them, but there is no human-like eating mechanism involved.


Originally posted 2013-08-11 15:31:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

My Venus Fly Trap is eating itself!

venus fly trap eating itself close upI bought a new venus fly trap today. I wasn’t planning to, but I had gone shopping for compost and they were right by the cash register… I picked one that looked healthy, although perhaps a little overcrowded in the pot it’s in.

When I got it home, because it had been hanging around in a carrier bag for a couple of hours by then I decided against repotting it straight away – I didn’t want to upset it any more than I already had. But looking at it closely I noticed that two of the traps were being trapped inside other traps!

The Internet assures me this is nothing to worry too much about. It won’t harm the plant. It might kill the traps that are being eaten, but otherwise it won’t be damaged.

I suspect that the plant having so many traps in a small pot, along with sitting by the tills in the shop where people might well have messed about with it, not to mention then shaking it about a bit on its journey home is what has caused the problem. Because of all this, I don’t want to disturb it any more for a while, so I’ll just keep an eye on it and see what happens.


Originally posted 2013-08-17 09:03:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

Pinguicula x “Tina” Butterwort

pinguicula tinaThis is my Pinguicula x “Tina”, a hybrid Mexican butterwort derived from the Pinguicula agnata and Pinguicula zecheri.

Butterworts look almost too pretty to be carnivorous plants, but they are very effective at luring, trapping and digesting small insects. Their leaves emit sticky liquid which traps any bug unfortunate enough to assume it’s a safe place to land. When it is safely trapped in the goo, a cell filled with digestive fluids is triggered and releases these fluids onto the now doomed insect so that “Tina” can extract the minerals and nutrients she needs to survive.

Originally posted 2013-08-16 18:33:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

How it all started: carnivorous plant fascination

Venus flytrap

Venus flytrap (Photo credit: Konstantin Lazorkin)

I love David Attenborough, so was really excited when I saw that the Private Life of Plants BBC documentary series from the mid 90s was being repeated. When he started talking about venus fly traps I was particularly interested because when I was a child my siblings and I had a venus fly trap that we tormented so much it did not survive long. We did not do this to be cruel, we were just so fascinated by the traps opening and closing that we couldn’t resist continually setting off the traps by tickling the hairs inside them with a fork. Sorry, plant!

What I did not know, however, was that there are more carnivorous plants than just venus fly traps. I watched Attenborough talk about the drosera plants, whose sticky nectar attracts bugs which are then trapped as the leaves coil up around them, and pitcher plants, which lure insects to a flower-like entrance to a tube they can then not crawl out of. Instead, they drown and are digested by the hungry plant.

A morbid fascination developed. I read and read about carnivorous plants, and I knew I needed to own some.

Originally posted 2013-08-11 05:20:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

The big tap water vs rainwater debate

When watering carnivorous plants, what kind of water is safe to use and what isn’t?

Originally posted 2015-01-03 10:21:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

Sarracenia Purpurea or Sarracenia catesbaei?

Sarracenia purpureaThis is one of my pitcher plants. These are a type of carnivorous plant which trap insects when they fall into the tall tubes created by their leaves.

When I bought it, I bought a Sarracenia purpurea and a Sarracenia catesbaei, also called a Sarracenia oreophila, and I am unsure which is which! On the one hand, the reddish purple hue on the leaves makes me think the one in the picture is the s. purpurea, but the leaves are quite tall, without the characteristic bulbous shape that you can see in s. purpurea examples like this.

The other pitcher plant I bought, on the other hand, does have that more squat, rounded appearance, making me think that that one is the s. purpurea. However if that is the case, then my s. catesbaei (also known as the “green pitcher plant”) is reddish / purple, and my s. purpurea (also known as the “purple pitcher plant”) is green!

They are both quite new to me, so I think I need to just keep an eye on them and see how they grow. Colours can change, and both are fairly small plants so when they get bigger they may form more typical shapes. Watch this space!


Originally posted 2013-08-14 20:12:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

   Jan 03

How To Build A Carnivorous Plant Bog Garden

Originally posted 2014-12-27 10:20:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter