Thursday, August 28, 2014

I couldn't resist this one

A couple months ago I told myself that I wasn't going to get any new Sarracenia until I put together a better growing area for them outside. As I mentioned recently, my backyard is much too windy and the neighborhood pigeons like snacking on the free bugs (and perching and pecking my plants to shreds).

In spite of that, I got a package today!

Package from Meadowview Biological Research Station
I knew what it was as soon as the doorbell rang.
It's from Meadowview! Meadowview Biological Research Station is non-profit group in Maryland and Virginia that works to restore bogs and re-establish historical Sarracenia populations to those bogs. They're a great outfit – like them on Facebook to keep up with their activities.

Bubble-wrapped plant from Meadowview
This plant was very well-packaged. Those Meadowview folks know their business.
The Meadowview Facebook feed is where I heard about a few plants they were selling on eBay – two Nepenthes and a nice, mature Sarracenia. Now, I know I said I wasn't going to get any more Sarracenia any time soon, but it was such a well-grown plant, big and established, and it's for a good cause right...? Also, it's a cool cross.

Sarracena x formosa (Sarracenia psittacina x Sarracenia minor) from Meadowview
It's quite large, especially for a plant with S. psittacina in its heritage.
Sarracenia x formosa is S. psittacina x minor. The specific epithet means "beautiful," and it totally applies in this case. The pitchers are a rich, almost luminescent orange-red color, with a pitcher opening that's midway between the two species. It's a great plant.

Sarracenia x formosa (Sarracenia psittacina x Sarracenia minor) outside
Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air little guy.
Now I'm serious though. I've gotta figure out this wind situation. Until then, no more Sarracenia. Probably.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Checking in on various plants

I decided today to trim off the flower stalks from my Drosera x tokaiensis. This is a sterile man-made hybrid, which blooms like crazy but for no real purpose. The stalks were sort of getting in my way, so I finally trimmed them all down.

Drosera x tokaiensis flower stalks
Many felled stalks of Drosera x tokaiensis.
Drosera x tokaiensis
A dewy, very robust little plant.
With the mess of flower stalks out of the way I'm better able to see the Drosera ultramafica x spatulata that lives behind the D. x tokaiensis.

Drosera ultramafica x spatulata
This guy has really settled in in the last month and is just looking great.
It's a stunningly red plant, and I started some leaf cuttings of some of its more wilted leaves shortly after receiving it. They sat around for a while, but having been recently fed they're starting to take off.

Drosera ultramafica x spatulata plantlets from leaf cuttings
I'm very happy with these 3 cute little plantlets.
The one in the middle is starting to get its mature shape.

Outside in my Sarracenia I noticed a bit of volunteer Sphagnum.

Sphagnum growing in a Sarracenia leucophylla pot
This was quite a welcome surprise! Hopefully this Sphagnum keeps on keepin' on.
It's growing at the base of my Sarracenia leucophylla, fairly sheltered by the dense pitcher growth. Hopefully it'll spread and prove adaptable to my climate. That would be great.

Inside, there's a flower stalk forming on my Drosera capensis red form.

Drosera capensis red form with flower stalk
The fuzzy little stalk is so funny looking.
It's interesting how fuzzy the flower stalk is at first – this form is much less hairy than other forms of D. capensis, and its mature flower stalks have very little hair at all.

One of my Drosera filiformis Florida Red plants seems to have gone entirely dormant.

Drosera filiformis Florida red
Sleep well little dude.
I've talked with several people now who have said that D. filiformis seems to go dormant somewhat at random. Apparently all the Drosera x hybrida (which is D. filiformis x Drosera intermedia) up at California Carnivores went dormant a couple weeks ago, in the middle of summer. As you can see, the dormant plant's bunkmate is actually looking better than ever lately. Who knows. Plants are weird.

A couple of plants in my second growing area (on the steel racks) are showing signs of heat stress, including this Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'.

Drosera intermedia 'Cuba', apparently heat stressed
Looks a bit wilty in the heat.
I really started noticing this after installing the propagation area below, which has definitely boosted the ambient temperature around my tray. I think better airflow would make a real difference in heat buildup – the air in my living room can be quite still with the windows closed. Still, it's only a couple of D. intermedia plants and my Drosera prolifera that have shown clear signs of stress, so maybe it won't be too big of a deal, especially since cooler weather is definitely on its way.

And also, there are plenty of plants who don't seem to mind the temperatures at all.

Drosera helodes and Drosera allantostigma, pygmy sundews
These pygmies are so great!
Just look at those pygmies! Drosera helodes on the left and Drosera allantotigma (my favorite) on the right. Dewy and beautiful.

So that's what's up lately.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some closeups from the collection

I don't have a macro lens. I don't even have a proper camera. Still, I do have a 30x loupe that I sometimes use to look at my plants, and it can be used for some very makeshift closeup shots.

My Drosera aliciae caught a gnat.

Drosera aliciae with gnat closeup
The hapless gnat.
The main D. aliciae plant is still doing quite well, and enjoyed being fed (more than a single gnat) recently along with several other of my plants.

Drosera natalensis plods along.

Drosera natalensis seedling closeup
Someday these will be big strong sundews. Someday.
As I mentioned back on Saturday, I've sort of neglected these seedlings for a while, but I'm hoping they'll spring to life soon enough. With food, anything is possible.

The Sphagnum I have growing in my Drosera prolifera pot is doing rather well over all.

Living Sphagnum closeup
This patch is particularly plump and green and healthy.
I've made my first tentative steps towards deliberately cultivating Sphagnum. I'd like to have lots of it just going so I can use it as media for some of the more delicate plants, but to get enough I'd have to start at least one tray specifically for Sphagnum culture. Incidentally, I love how this picture really shows off the tubular structure of the moss, which accounts for its superior water-holding abilities.

My Utricularia praelonga is growing rather well, though the moss in the pot is a bit unruly.

Utricularia praelonga closeup
Not the fastest-growing Utric, but very steady.
Also, while looking my plants over for good things to photograph up close, I noticed that there was a hitchhiker in the U. praelonga pot.

Mystery sundew in the U. praelonga pot.
A mystery! What could this sundew be?
As far as I know there haven't been any sundews blooming near this pot since I've had it. I don't know where the seedling came from, but it could be anything at this point. I guess I'll just let it grow out and see what it turns out to be.

Finally, my Drosera tokaiensis has a second, tinier flower stalk.

Drosera tokaiensis closeup with flower stalk
Blooming away without a care in the world.
While I initially didn't pay this plant much mind, I have come to enjoy its presence in my collection, especially since it blooms so consistently and is so healthy. A plus in every collection!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Batch leaf cuttings success rate

Back about six weeks ago I started some leaf cuttings and seeds – a propagation effort I've dubbed the Summer Batch. Earlier today I decided to take the plastic wrap off the tray where the leaf cuttings are growing briefly in order to take some good pictures for the blog. Things are going well over all!

First of all, here's what they all looked like on 7-10-2014, the day I got this round of propagation going:

Various sundew leaf cuttings in the Summer Batch.
Oh for the halcyon days of leaf cuttings and hopeful beginnings.
I started the cuttings in 6-cell seed starter units. Drosera adelae and Drosera anglica CA x HI each had 6 cells, and Drosera venusta and Drosera madagascariensis each had three. This is the D. venusta/D madagascariensis unit.

Drosera madagascariensis and Drosera venusta leaf cuttings.
D. madagascariensis and D. venusta bunking together like bros.
The cell in the bottom-left is the only successful D. venusta cutting. The one in the center got moldy, and the one of the right actually was dislodged at some point and has dried out on the side of the unit. The top-left and top-right cells of D. madagascariensis have struck, though the plantlets are quite tiny (in part because D. madagascariensis is a smaller plant over all).

My D. adelae starts did much worse than I expected.

Drosera adelae leaf cutting.
That one productive cutting (almost) makes up for the 5 failures.
It's such a prolific plant, I expected the cuttings to have a much higher success rate. I'll still get a couple new plants out of the deal, but I was hoping to be totally awash.

The D. anglica CA x HI cuttings, however, are totally going gangbusters.

Drosera anglica CA x HI leaf cuttings.
This is one of the most vigorous plants in my whole collection. Total beast.
A full 5 of the 6 cells have had strikes (look closely at bottom-center) and the plantlets are already quite large. I'm going to leave the humidity cover on for a few more weeks at least while the other plantlets catch up, but I'm super excited to have more of this clone in my collection.

As you can see, I'll at least have a few new plants to mess around with in the coming months. Maybe I'll even be able to grow a few of them out enough to donate at the BACPS meeting in fall.

Besides the summer batch, one of my current propagation efforts is this pot of Drosera natalensis, the seed for which I received in a trade with Natch Greyes several months ago. Check these two pictures and then see below for how little they've grown in almost 3 months.

Drosera natalensis seedlings.
Tiny, jewel-like seedings. So red!
 The seeds germinated back in mid-May, but because of the arrangement of my collection they weren't super accessible for a while. As a result I wasn't able to feed them very much, and as I learned from Grow Sundews (and personal experience), unfed seedlings grow very, very slowly. I just recently gave some food to some of the largest seedlings. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I'll get a growth spurt. I've seen it before!

I remember when I first started with carnivores I thought of taking 4 months to get mature plants as super long time. Now that I have a bigger collection though I feel like I have more patience.

The Summer Batch


  • 7-9-14 Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'
  • 7-9-14 Drosera burmannii Humpty Doo
  • 7-9-14 Drosera tokaiensis
  • 7-9-14 Drosera capillaris Alabama
  • 7-9-14 Drosera adelae
  • 7-9-14 Drosera anglica CA x HI
  • 7-9-14 Drosera madagascariensis Masoala, Madagascar
  • 7-9-14 Drosera venusta


  • 8-4-14 Drosera anglica CA x HI, struck. Date approximate.
  • 8-11-14 Drosera tokaiensis, germinated.
  • 8-11-14 Drosera capillaris Alabama, germinated.
  • 8-11-14 Drosera madagascariensis Masoala, Madagascar, struck
  • 8-11-14 Drosera adelae, struck
  • 8-14-14 Drosera venusta, struck

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pinguicula gigantea is going all to pieces (it's great)

So back in May I noticed that my Pinguicula gigantea had developed a second growth point. It also started blooming back in April. Well, it's been growing and blooming continuously and doing great, and just the other day I noticed that it's split again. What a great plant!

Pinguicula gigantea with offset
One little plantlet on the left side.
Pinguicula gigantea offset.
Another little plantlet on the right.
Pinguicula gigantea flower.
And a cute little flower up top!
Of course, now I really have to divide and repot this plant. Maybe that will be my next big chore.

After taking these pictures, I decided to take a second look at all my other plants to see if there were some other offsets I hadn't noticed. I found a few!

Pretty sure this is the first proper offset from any of my Drosera capensis 'Albino'.

Drosera capensis 'Albino' with offset
Of course, I'm already awash in D. capensis 'Albino', but that's fine.
I'm not sure if the little plant here is a D. capensis red or just a stray D. capensis 'Albino' or typical seed that found its way in here.

Drosera capensis red form with possible offset
The tentacles look awfully pale to be the red form of D. capensis but I guess we'll see.
Of course, my two largest D. capensis typicals are offsetting like crazy.

Drosera capensis with lots of offsets.
This is my first-ever carnivorous plant and it's just chugging along.
Drosera capensis with offset
This plant is really glad to not be suffering outside in the wind.
I don't remember if this Drosera adelae had the offset when I repotted it, but it's certainly gotten bigger. Also, it's appreciating having been recently fed.

Drosera adelae plantlets.
D. adelae responds very well to food. I'll be looking for a growth spurt in the next week.
The Drosera tokaiensis plants in the first pic below have been growing together for a while, but the one on the right is blooming for the first time. The D. x tokaiensis sterile hybrid in the second photo may have an offset up front, or it may be a weed, hahahah.

Drosera tokaiensis and friends.
This is one of my favorite pots. I like the little plant community here.
Drosera x tokaiensis with possible offset
This hybrid has great color and is extremely bloomy.
This last is the most exciting though. I was sure I had lost this little Drosera madagascariensis seedling, but apparently the roots hung on and have started to grow a little plantlet. It's right there at the base of the dead stem. Awesome!

Drosera madagascariensis coming back from the roots.
I think D. madagascariensis is one of the cutest sundew species.
I've said this before, but I love finding surprises in the collection. It's so much fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cultivation Guides: Plant Trading

 This is part of a series of posts describing various aspects of cultivation, which will hopefully be useful to new growers trying to solve the challenges of growing carnivores, and experienced growers who are always looking to improve their collection. The full series can be read here, or by topic on the Series page.

Trading is an essential part of the carnivorous plant hobby. There are only a handful (maybe a dozen) sundew species/cultivars that are consistently available to buy anywhere (online or at nurseries). Nepenthes and Sarracenia are a bit easier to find, if significantly more expensive. Pinguicula are difficult and Utricularia extremely difficult to find for sale, outside of one of two beginner varieties.

So basically once you start trying to expand your collection you're going to have to start trading. At first it can be intimidating – beginners don't have much trading stock, shipping plants bare root seems risky, and the plants you receive in the mail usually look all ratty. Luckily, it's much easier than it seems.

I just completed a trade with a poster on Terra Forums who was initially looking for some Utricularia graminifolia (I've had a pot for a while, though I haven't posted much about it). In order to make everything worthwhile, we wound up with me sending some U. graminifolia, Drosera prolifera, Drosera filiformis Florida Red, and Drosera capensis 'Albino' and receiving Drosera affinis, Pinguicula 1717, Drosera capensis Bainskloof leaf cuttings, and seeds of Drosera sessilifolia and Drosera burmannii Giant Red (Hann River, Kimberley, WA, Australia). This was a very exciting trade for me, since I've been looking for D. capensis Bainskloof and D. sessilifolia for some time.

First up, sending plants. Sundews should be shipped bare root, with as much media rinsed off the roots as possible (this helps prevent accidentally spreading weeds or pests). These should then be wrapped in a portion of wet long-fiber sphagnum, and wrapped again in a damp paper towel. This can be placed in a plastic baggie. See below

Drosera prolifera ready to be shipped
D. prolifera plantlet, off to a new home.
Drosera capensis 'Albino' ready to be shipped
D. capensis 'Albino' is the largest plant I shipped today.
Drosera filiformis Flordia Red, ready to be shipped
Once again, D. filiformis Florida Red proves to be popular trading material.
For terrestrial Utricularia it's a little different. In their case, just dig out a plug of plants and media from your pot, and wrap it in a damp paper towel to hold it together. Then, into the baggie.

Utricularia gramnifolia plug
This is about the size of the plug of U. graminifolia that I started with.
Utricularia gramnifolia ready to ship
All wrapped up safe.
Make sure to label all your plants clearly with as much information as possible. Species, cultivar, location data, etc. are all important pieces of information for the future owner. Once you've done that, it's time to pack up and ship.

I use the USPS small flat-rate Priority mail boxes.

Small flat rate box
Non-flat rate boxes can be affordable, but they're less predictable.
The boxes themselves are free, and shipping is only $5.80 for guaranteed 3-day delivery. That's about the sweet spot for shipping plants – anything quicker is exorbitantly expensive, and going cheaper puts the plants at risk with long shipping times. I find I can usually fit 3-4 smaller-sized plants in one box. If I were shipping mature specimens of larger species I'd have to use a different container.

Flat rate box all packed.
I like to cushion my boxes with dry paper towels if I don't have other packing materials.
It's always best to ship at the beginning of the week, so that plants don't sit around in a post office over the weekend. Also keep the temperatures in mind – plants can be lost to freezing or baking hot weather on the receiving party's end.

When you receive plants in the mail, it's important to pot them up right away. They're probably stressed out from shipping, and getting them settled in quickly will make a big difference in how quickly they bounce back. It's good to have some media prepared in advance.

Drosera affinis
Looking forward to seeing this D. affinis get bigger.
Pinguicula 1717
This media has a lot of perlite in it for these pings.
One thing that I've come to find really helps my plants recover from any stressful situation, be it shipping or repotting or whatever, is much higher humidity. Therefore I now put a plastic baggie over the pots of my new acquisitions. This is also useful as insurance in case the plants you receive were accustomed to much higher humidity than your setup provides – the humidity tent allows them to be hardened off slowly, rather than potentially shocked to death.

Drosera affinis and Pinguicula 1717 in humidity tents.
I really like using humidity tents.
Since I received 2 leaf cuttings of D. capensis Bainskloof I decided to start one in water, and one on the media. This provides a bit of insurance in case one technique fails utterly.

Drosera capensis Bainskloof leaf cutting in water
I've not had much success with the water-float method and D. capensis previously, but maybe this time will be different.
Drosera capensis Bainskloof leaf cutting on media
My fingers are seriously crossed for this leaf cutting.
Finally, shipping seeds. Sundew seeds are tiny, sometimes hilariously tiny, which means shipping them safely can be a challenge. My personal favorite method is to make seed packets out of parchment paper, and envelopes out of printer paper. That way there is no tape or glue to catch the seeds, and the tension of multiple folds keeps the seeds well-contained. The fellow I traded with used pieces of rolled and then folded paper and tape that actually worked pretty well, but I still think the above method is the best I've seen.

Drosera sessilifolia seed starts
Super pumped to be growing D. sessilifolia. Ever since I learned about its relationship with D. burmannii I've wanted some.
Drosera burmannii Giant Red (Hann River) seed starts
This is a different locality than my D. burmannii Humpty Doo, but I suspect it will look fairly similar.
Finally, remember to label your plants! Eventually you're going to reach a point where you no longer remember what's in each pot. Labeling will help you stay organized and make it much easier to trade in the future (nobody wants an unidentifiable mystery plant).

Happy trading.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New seeds for trade and sale – Drosera burmannii and others

Before we get down to business, take a look at these Drosera burmannii.

Drosera burmannii from Humpty Doo, NT, Australia
Those wedge-shaped laminae make such a lovely circle.
Yowza! They are really looking great! This is my non-competition pot of D. burmannii, which is pulling through the stress of blooming much better than my competition pot, below.

Drosera burmannii from Humpty Doo, NT, Australia
These plants put a lot of energy into making a million billion seeds.
The main plant in the middle is looking especially ragged – its leaves are half the size they were at competition time. I hope it can pull through! I know blooming is particularly stressful for D. burmannii, and they don't always make it.

On the plus side though, I do have lots of D. burmannii seed, and since I recently confirmed that my Drosera tokaiensis is fertile (and also that Drosera capillaris doesn't need cold stratification), I decided to update my Sales and Trades page.

Right now I've got seeds of 7 different species for sale or trade:
  • Drosera capensis typical
  • Drosera capillaris (Alabama) white flower
  • Drosera aliciae
  • Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'
  • Drosera brevifolia (Kountze, TX)
  • Drosera tokaiensis
  • Drosera burmannii (Humpty Doo, NT, Australia)
In the full course of time I'd like to build up even more of a seed offering, since it's often hard to beginners to find seeds for sale. I also intend to start selling live plants soon, but I'm working on getting some propagating done first. If you're looking to trade for live plants, the following would be easiest for me to trade:
  • Drosera capensis, typical
  • Drosera capensis 'Albino'
  • Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'
  • Drosera adelae
  • Utricularia livida
  • Utricularia gramnifolia
 Send me an email if you're interested in doing any trades. I'm always interested in new Drosera and terrestrial Utricularia, and can definitely be tempted by Sarracenia and Pinguicula.

Gotta get new plants somehow!