OMG EXCITEMENT! We Have Venus Fly Trap Germination!

Fly Trap Seed Germination Fly trap seed germination

Just wanted to make a quick update from my post on planting Venus fly trap seeds.  The first signs of Venus fly trap germination appeared early last weekend! I believe it was Friday. The seeds were sown on September 7th, which means they took just under three weeks to germinate.

I’ll admit I was getting nervous. I saw other posts online where other peoples’ seeds showed germination within two weeks. One post even saw germination in six days! I was feeling some major germination-envy. This envy got to me, and I ended up putting my seeds in direct sunlight for a few hours every day sometime mid-last week. I think that extra heat kicked them into gear. They had only been in bright shade before.

The other growers most likely were keeping them indoors under lights on timers, probably 16 hours or longer. Honestly, that’s probably a more ideal situation for seedlings, since you have more control of their heat and humidity levels. My seedlings were definitely subject to more temperature fluctuations. I also may have left them outside at night once or twice when it got into the low 60s, oops. I’m sure that delayed germination quite a bit.

The two photos above are the only signs of germination I’ve seen so far, but I’m feeling optimistic! My method hasn’t been perfect, but I wanted to see how Nature would treat the seeds. These two are obviously the strongest of the bunch, and I hope the rest follow soon!

Who is the father? :P

For those wondering about parentage, these seeds are from two different batches. The top image is a seed selectively pollinated from two “Fused Tooth” cultivars. Because they are seed grown and not “Fused Tooth” clones, they will be called Fused Tooth x Fused Tooth. Each seed is genetically unique, and not all will display the “Fused Tooth” traits.

The second seed is a result of selective pollination from all-red Venus fly traps, which offers a much higher probability of all-red babies! Y’all know my love for red flytraps! Again, each seed is completely unique and may or may not have all-red traits at all. It’s possible more seeds germinated, but are just hard to see against the soil if they are in fact, red!

So what’s in your germination station?

What are you growing from seeds, dear readers? Under what kind of conditions are you keeping them? Or if you’re not growing anything from seed right now, what would you grow if you could? Leave me a comment about anything at all!

If I get another batch of fly trap seeds, it will be the Giant and Superior variety, from the same breeders as my current seeds. How cool would it be to grow gigantic, vigorous, and completely unique Venus fly traps?! And 20 seeds for under $10! I better stop myself now… ;)

As always, thanks for reading! More updates on the Venus fly trap germination will come soon!

Carnivorous House Plants (No dormancy required!)

Some carnivorous plant fans don’t want to deal with dormancy, and that’s perfectly okay! I’m a little jealous. I’d love to have carnivorous house plants! Some folks are lucky enough to not have cats dominating the windowsills (like mine!) or just prefer keeping their plants inside. Here are some plants that will be perfectly happy living inside with you.

Cape Sundews (and other tropical sundews)

Drosera CapensisIt doesn’t hurt that Cape sundews (drosera capensis) are also affordable, extremely easy to grow, and therefore a perfect starter plant for someone new to carnivores! They love bright sun and lots of pure water, so put them in your sunniest windowsill and they’ll be completely happy as carnivorous house plants. Read this article to learn more about sundew care. They’re able to catch small insects on their own, but you can also feed them if you like. Check out my food guide, and remember the same overfeeding rule applies! Feed 2 leaves per plant no more than once a week.

If the Cape variety doesn’t interest you, other sundews that are just as easy are the fork-leafed sundew (drosera binata), the spoon-leaf sundew (drosera spatulata), the Alice sundew (drosera aliciae), and the lance-leaf sundew (drosera adelae). These will all be happy in the exact same conditions. I love having different sundews in one pot! In sunlight, all the dew drops on different shapes are very pretty to look at.

 Butterworts (pinguicula)

Pinguicula Planifolia

Bidding starts at $6.00 for this Pinguicula Planifolia!

Mexican pinguicula are the most common and widely available Butterworts on the market. Their compact size and shallow root system make them versatile enough to sit almost anywhere in a variety of pots. They prefer an airy, well-draining soil mix with higher proportions of sand, perlite, lava rock, and/or vermiculite than peat. Some growers don’t even use peat at all! Butterworts generally prefer indirect light over direct sunlight, so if your windowsill isn’t the sunniest, it will still be happy there!

Pings are very reminiscent of succulents, and their dormant phase is actually called the “succulent phase” (Okay, so I lied. These plants do have a dormancy, but don’t fret!). In the winter, their carnivorous leaves turn to succulent leaves, meaning they are just storing water and not catching prey. During dormancy, you can stop watering completely, and let them dry out. They don’t need winter temperatures for dormancy, just reduced light and water.

Asian Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

Highland nepenthes make excellent hanging house or patio plants! Generally, they enjoy  day Nepenthes Pitcher Planttemperatures in the 70s to 80s F, bright indirect light, and night temperatures in the 50s to low 60s. N. ventricosa and N. x miranda are good examples of easy, beginner-friendly Neps. Nepenthes are also more tolerant of different soils, pots, and even fertilizers than most other carnivores. They look especially gorgeous in hanging basket-style pots!

If you feel like a bit more of a challenge, you could also grow lowland Nepenthes in an indoor greenhouse-style terrarium. These varieties require much warmer day and night temperatures and higher humidity. For more information from a true expert, The Savage Garden goes into much greater detail about Nepenthes care than what I am qualified to answer!

Australian Pitcher Plant (Cephalotus follicularis)

Cephalotus FollicularisCephalotus are small, unusual, slow-growing, and highly prized by their owners. They are known for being finicky and somewhat difficult to grow, but actually enjoy very similar conditions as Venus flytraps! They tolerate a wide variety of conditions, from full-sun to partial shade, and temperatures from the 90s F during the day to light frosts at night. Protection is important however, as prolonged temperatures that are too hot or too cold will kill them. Cephs also prefer a sandier mix of soil and hate being waterlogged. Make sure they drain well and don’t over-water! No dormancy period is required for these little guys.

 

Dionaea and Sarracenia seedlingsSarracenia Seedlings

This technically may not count, but just an idea! If you are growing temperate plants from seeds, you can keep them indoors for their first year only. Skipping the first dormancy for seedlings is an accepted practice by most growers. I imagine it helps young plants get established and strong before their first winter. It’s also just nice to enjoy them while other plants are in dormancy! When you start putting them outside in the spring, remember to acclimate them slowly. Full sunlight is much stronger than any indoor light, and may burn young plants that aren’t used to it. Keep them in shade for a few days and gradually increase exposure to direct sun over several weeks.

The great thing about carnivores is how unique and different they all are. There is a carnivorous plant for everyone at every level, no matter where you live (except maybe Antarctica!). I hope this post took some mystery out of which make the best carnivorous house plants. Leave a comment if I missed anything or if you have more questions. Til next time!

Winter is Coming! A Guide to Venus Flytrap Dormancy

Dying Venus FlytrapThe fall equinox is almost upon us! As temperatures cool and daylight escapes us, we must protect our plants from the imminent harshness of winter. Or for some people, create winter-like conditions in order to induce a dormancy. While I’ll be discussing Venus flytrap dormancy in this post, these methods work equally well for Sarracenia (North American pitcher plants) and temperate sundews.

Why is dormancy necessary? Can I skip it?

Venus flytraps evolved as temperate perennials. In order to continue propagating their species, they had to adapt to the cool winters of their natural habitat. Dormancy is a lot like hibernation in animals. They need to rest and store their energy for the growing season. If they didn’t go dormant, they would be extinct. You can skip it if you are okay with your Venus flytrap dying within 2-3 years.

Okay! So how do I make them go dormant? 

If you don’t already know, you should find out the hardiness zone of where you live. If your region falls anywhere between zone 8 to zone 11, congratulations! You don’t have to do ANYTHING! (and everyone else is jealous!) Hopefully you keep your plants outside already, and you can simply leave them outside all winter. Your winter temperatures are just cool enough to trigger a natural dormancy that will not harm your plants at all.

If you live in Zone 7 or below, or Zone 12 and up, you have just a bit of extra work to do. Here are some options!

Protected Outside Dormancy

Growing vs Dormant Flytraps

Top: Venus flytraps at peak growth. Bottom: Dormant Venus flytraps

If you live between zones 4 and 7, you can still keep your plants outside in the winter as long as they’re properly insulated. You may want to bury your potted plants in the ground like a bog garden, as above-ground pots are very susceptible to the elements and not likely to provide adequate protection. Once temperatures hover around freezing, cover the plants with burlap or shade cloth (you can trim off Sarracenia pitchers). Secure the cloth at the edges with rocks or bricks, then cover the top of the cloth with pine needles, leaves, or straw. This method will keep moisture in, and help prevent the plants from freezing. If you get snow in your climate as well, don’t panic! Snow also makes great insulation.

If making a bog garden is not feasible, consider building or buy a cold frame. This may be a better option if your collection is still on the smaller side. If most of your plants are young and in small pots, a mini greenhouse will do nicely too. Set it up against an outside wall for extra protection and your plants will survive easily.

Cold Inside Dormancy

Sarracenia Winter Dormancy

Sarracenia are quite hardy to cold temperatures as well!

If you live in zone 3 or lower, it would be best to bring your plants inside to a cold room, like a garage, patio, or basement. This room should stay above freezing temperatures, but no warmer than 55 F (12 C). Ideally, plants should be kept by a window so they can still receive natural light during dormancy. Keeping plants inside your house is not recommended, as temperatures comfortable to humans is too warm for a plant’s dormancy. The warmer temperatures inside a house may bring a plant back out of dormancy too soon, and cause it to become seasonally confused.

Refrigerator Dormancy (last resort!)

If you’re from somewhere way too cold for the above methods, or you live in a tropical region where temperatures never go below 55 F (12 C), refrigerator dormancy may be for you. I want to stress though, that this is a last resort option. By having a constant temperature and no light, a refrigerator does not adequately simulate a natural winter dormancy. It’s possible you may lose some plants.  With this in mind, read on…

Ideally, you’ll want to slowly decrease the photoperiod (hours of light) and temperature before putting the plants in the fridge. Your plants have a better chance of surviving if you make the transition as least shocking as possible.

You can either keep your plants in their pots, or uproot them. If keeping them in pots, put the entire pot inside a plastic bag before putting it in the fridge. Thoroughly dust or spray the play with a fungicide like this. Check the plant for mold and fungus every couple of weeks. Give more light dosages of fungicide if necessary. Keep them in the fridge for at least three months.

Refrigerator Dormancy

Image Credit: farmtina.com

If uprooting your plants (more convenient and space-saving),  follow these steps:

  • Gently rinse off the potting media around their roots until they’re completely bare
  • Cut off any dead or dying growth. On Sarracenia, you can even trim green pitchers off. This gives less real estate for fungus to grow on
  • Mist or dip the entire plant in fungicide
  • Wrap the plants in damp (not soaking) paper towels
  • Put the plants in plastic ziplock bags. Squeeze all the air out of the bags before sealing them
  • If space allows, put the plants in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. Check for mold every two weeks
  • You can bring the plants out of dormancy after three months

 Things to remember!

  • If you are inducing dormancy, slowly decrease light and temperature, and slowly increase
    Sarracenia emerging from dormancy

    Sarracenia emerging from dormancy.

    them when bringing the plant out of dormancy.

  • Try to keep temperatures between 32 and 55 F (0 -12 C). Occasional light freezes are no big deal.
  • Do not water as often during dormancy. Allow the plants to dry out slightly before watering again. I’ll water mine maybe every 2 weeks in the winter, sometimes longer. And that’s if they haven’t been rained on.
  • Receiving light is still good! If your plants are outside or in a window, allow them to soak up as much natural light as possible. They can still photosynthesize and store that energy for the growing season.

If this will be your first Venus flytrap dormancy, hopefully this post offered some clarity on the subject! If you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!