Last season I decided to go carnivorous. No not that I would eat only meat, I got my hands on some bug eating greenies. I ordered some VFT’s (venus fly traps), some Sundew’s from Amazon and I purchased a stringy looking VTF that if felt sorry for with two traps and a Pitcher Plant (both in clay pots) from a nursery up in Larchmont, NY. Larchmont Nursery (which is where I drive to on my mindless trips to no where just to get out of the house for a bit). The ones from Amazon were healthy trap filled, white bulbed specimen from Joel’s Carnivorous Plants (not in clay pots). The ones I ordered from Joel’s were well packaged and looked like they were well cared for and diligently packaged.
I was intrigued by the voracious nature of these little guys and was a big fan of “Little Shop of Horror” when I was a kid. Like a big kid I was now the proud owner of the infamous Venus Fly Trap. I was excited but unaware of the delicate nature of these meat eaters (they don’t actually eat meat by the way and they won’t grow with little drops of blood from a pricked finger, ha ha ha…). The nice lady at the Larchmont Nursery seemed unaware of the exact care for the VTF’s. I asked her about the care they give these particular plants and she said that they just watered them with regular water from the hose. I told her that I read on the internet (where everything must be true) that carnivorous plants required distilled or rain water otherwise they die from the minerals from the pipes that deliver the tap water and they needed to go dormant during the winter months. She said that it sounded ridiculous and that they just watered them the same way they did all the other plants in the nursery using tap water and were out year round till they sold. Since I live in the Bronx and the nursery was further up north in Westchester, I figured they just had better lighting and tap water than I did and the plants did fine. I mean, the taxes are much higher up there so they MUST have better tap water and light than I did.
Since I purchased mine in early October they did not show much growth. I left them on a window sill for a few weeks and got a few gallons of distilled water (the water that is used for baby formula) from RiteAid. I still however, felt a bit guilty as the few articles I read online said you had to winterize them for healthy growth. After a few weeks the guilt of having these cute little things die on me was one I could take no more. Some of the VFT’s died completely and the Sundew’s dried out and died as well. Heart broken and bothered while going through the small pots, I noticed one little speckle of green still in the pot which look to be a tiny little Sundew that seemed to have branched off. I immediately pulled him out with a tooth pick and set him aside in a separate 1″ plastic pot with some moistened sphagnum moss and placed him in a ziplock bag and tucked him into the fridge. I filled up a couple of plastic food containers with the moss and perlite, moistened them with some distilled water and also tucked them away in to one of the crisper draws in the refrigerator in early November. Along with the slumbering little monsters I placed a thermometer I purchased at Home Depot for like 10 bucks, which gives highs, lows and humidity readings. The temperature in the crisper draw of my fridge was at a constant 40F. I would check on them every so often to make sure there was no mold growing on them and would clean out any traps that died and turned black. There they stayed till about early March when I took them out and replanted them in half open oval shaped terrarium with some moss and a carnivorous plant soil I purchased online over the winter. The bowl helps keep some of the humidity in which they seem to like. I threw in some live moss as well to give it that jungle feel. Prior to this bowl I had them in the clay pots they came in which by the way is not very good for them. According to my research online the clay pots can kill your carnivorous plants. Sadly, a lesson I learned the hard way.
The pitcher plants sat on my living room window sill for the entire winter and was not put through the same dormancy as the rest of the carnivores. It did however stop producing shoots and has now started to show life as well with a lot of new tubular leaves and have already caught some small bugs in the pitchers. I kept the pitchers half filled also with distilled water.
Native to the Carolina’s (zones 7 through 8), these little guys love high humidity and natural sunlight and are used to moderate winter weather, not the below freezing temperatures we get in New York. A 4 to 5 month winter dormancy of 55F to 40F degree temperature is ideal. The crisper draw in my fridge never went below 40F. Dormancy is vital for the longevity of these plants, they need to spend some time at rest in order to grow strong and healthy. For entertainment I would buy a few crickets to feed them and watch as they closed their traps and went to work. They are however, very capable of catching their own food if it came anywhere near them.
So far they all seem to be doing well but I am reluctant to place them outside as my yard is very unpredictable in terms of sun light and some abusive winds as we live by the water, so they will stay in doors for now. Lets see how the summer treats them. Bon Appetit.Read more "Winter Dormancy Is Over…time to grow!"