Sunday, 30 December 2012

An endangered species

One of the things that I love about carnivorous plants is that every once in a while, I learn something new and fascinating about them which makes me appreciate them more. For instance, earlier this year I learn't that the reason why a Venus flytrap doesn't close fully when it first shuts is to allow smaller prey that are so small that they arent worth the plants digestion energy, a chance to escape between the 'teeth' of the flytrap.

Yesterday I learnt something even more surprising. Ive always known that these plants are exotic, and to some degree, rare. But not only did I not know that over 97% of Sarracenia (Pitcher Plant) habbtat has been destroyed in the south-eastern US, but the Sarracenia 'oreophila' is actually on the "critically endangered' species list. By the time I divide them, I think I will have about 15 of them, and now I feel strangely protective of them..

                                                                          Would be a shame to lose these (credit: wikipedia)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Pretty pictures

Just been going through some of the photos I have taken of my plants over the last couple of years and decided to share them.

 Drosers Regia, the "king" sundew, proving their is no escape

 Thats it, keep going forward, maybe just a little to the left

 "Do they come in red?"

 The Cobra Lily knows how to be intimidating

 One less evil stinging insect in the world!

Venus Flytrap 'Big Mouth' compared to a normal sized VFT. Proving size does matter

Not so cold fingers

So, after yesterdays near constant rain, today the rain stopped, the wind picked up, the sun came out, and the temperature is up to about 11'c. This gave me an opportunity to put my new gloves and the hand warmers to use. The result was decent. As I expected, the warmers got warm but not hot. They heated the palms of my hands nicely but didn't seem to have much of an effect on my fingers. Hopefully the effects will be more obvious when it gets cooler.

I also did some repotting, with a pitcher plant:

            My photshop skills amaze me sometimes

Which ended up like this:

Yes, one pot has been divided into 5. I have 48 plant pots containing pitcher plants. Around 90% of them can be divded. Some of them can be divided into as many as 5 or more invidiual pots. Result? Less room, but many more plants :D

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cold fingers

Each time I repot, I encounter the same main problem. The cold. Typically in February, the temperature is around or slightly above freezing, which is an issue when it comes to dipping the plants roots in rainwater. I dont know if I just have bad blood circulation, but the fact is that after spending maybe 30 minutes repotting, my fingers start to get cold and painful.

Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to go back inside the house for a few minutes to warm them up. I have planned ahead a little more this year though. I typically use disposable gloves when repotting but, especially with the quantity I will be repotting next year, I require something slightly thicker, but still thin enough to maintain good control and grip over the plant. So I bought a pair of these:

        The gloves. Not the thing he or she is holding.

They fit nicely, they are thicker than disposable gloves, and they are mostly waterproof. Still, I then came across these:

I must admit, I am very curious about these. They are designed to be adequate to warm people's hands up while they are climbing mountains. Im using them to warm my hands whole repotting. The idea behind these is that they go between your gloves and your hand, and when they are exposed to oxygen, they can generate heat between 57 degrees celcius and 70, for up to 8 hours.

They sound ideal, and I would love to go outside and try them out and report back, but thanks to the British weather today, that isn't going to happen.

         Somewhere in there is Britain. Honestly.  

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A tale of dormancy

I dont particularly like this time of the year. Not just because of how cold it is, or how little daylight there is (though I do hate the cold and minimal daylight), but because, as a carnivorous plant collector and enthusiast, my plants are dormant.

Due to the colder temperatures, shorter daylight hours and lack of insects, carnivorous plants die back until spring. Below, you can see the differences between dormant pitcher plants and pitcher plants in the middle of the growing season.

As you can see, most of the traps have died off (and been pruned), while growing a type of leaf called 'phyllodia', that are grown at the end of summer, and they are used for photosynthesis during the winter months.

Venus flytraps tend to look equally unhappy, as you will notice in the images below. In the top photo, and at the top of the bottom photo, are both 'Spider' venus flytraps. These are ones with long petiole's that look great in the summer, but during dormancy they flop down to preserve energy.

Cant wait till Spring!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

How it started..

Hi everyone,

When I was young, maybe 8 years old or so, I began a fascination with carnivorous plants after watching a tv programme about them. I watched this programme over and over again and I knew I wanted a venus flytrap. Im not sure what it was exactly that I found so interesting about them, perhaps it was the way they looked, maybe it was the way they closed their traps, maybe it was the fact that there is a plant that eats insects out there, or maybe it wa sa combination of all of the above.

Of course, there was no internet back then, so it was a case of my parents taking me to the local garden centre's. Most of the time, they told us there were none there. If there ever were any, there's only be a couple. When I eventually got one, it died off quite quickly, mainly due to me sticking my fingers in the traps to make them close, or opening traps while they had flies in them, or even trying to force open baby traps (I was no older than 10).

Years sometimes came and went before I would get the next one, but my naivety would finish them off. Ironic really considering these were like goldust at the time. Then after a while, I stopped fiddling with the flytrap I had and just let it be. It still died off though. Maybe the conditions weren't perfect for it? Maybe I was doing something wrong? It turned out that the issue was that I was watering it with tap water. Tap water contains chemicals that can harm the plant which killed it off over time.

Then the internet came along and I bought a selection of plants. I got myself a mini greenhouse (one of those plastic 4 tier ones). I got more plants. Started buying sundews (those sticky dewy ones). I then got so many plants that I had to get another mini greenhouse, this was also about the time I got my first pitcher plants.

Then I moved house and decided to buy a full sized greenhouse. With my 30 or so plants in my plastic mini greenhouse's, they took up most of the room, but in my 10ft by 8ft greenhouse, they took up so little space that I considered whether or not the greenhouse was actually worth it.

But over the course of the next couple of years, not only did I get many many many more plants, I also started dividing and repotting them. Something I had never done before. I had reached a point where I realised that I got so many more plants from dividing them, that I could cut down on buying new ones. 

Then, with a combination of buying some new ones and dividing some old ones, I realised I had gone from 30 plants to 160, in about 3 years.

I had gone from having so few plants that they took up a pathetically little space, to having so many plants that I was running out of space. Not only that, but as you can (hopefully) see from the middle photo below, I started to grow venus flytrap seeds. I bought around 500 of them, not entirely sure what to expect, if anything, but to my surprise, many of them (too many to count) have started to grow. (middle pic shows two seed propogators, I have 6 total)

Then, given the interest that my youtube channel had generated with my videos, it occured to me that I could start to sell them. I would have gone from being a kid who looked everywhere to find a single venus flytrap, to being an adult with enough plants to start making a business out of selling them. Assuming I do start selling them, it will happen in Summer of 2013.