Thursday, July 31, 2014

Funny leaf in U. livida pot

My Utricularia livida is one of my easiest and cutest plants. It just chills out, and has been blooming away for the last several months, although recently it's slowed down a bit.

Utricularia livida flowers.
The older flower stalks are getting a bit droopy. Still whimsical though!
Recently I noticed a weird leaf down in the pot. It doesn't look like any U. livida leaf I've ever seen before, but it definitely looks like a Utric.

Mystery leaf in Utricularia livida pot.
The mystery leaf!
If you look closely there's a second one near the top of the photo. This pot is one of my cleanest – there's no moss or algae to speak of, and nothing except U. livida growing here. Until now, I guess! I wonder what's up. It almost looks like Utricularia calcyfida, but my U. calcyfida has never gotten anywhere near this pot. Mysterious! Guess we'll see if anything else develops.

In other Utric news, I've got a little baby Utricularia biquamata flower in my Drosera callistos pot.

Utricularia bisquamata flower.
The very tiny and very weedy U. bisquamata.
These are so precious. I should set up a dedicated U. bisquamata pot.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How's it going Drosera filiformis?

Drosera filiformis Florida Red looking so-so.
These two D. filiformis are not nearly as strong as I'd like.
Hmm, not so hot.

I received these Drosera filiformis Florida Red (along with a couple of Drosera binata clones) in a trade back in March. They seemed to be doing alright for a while – I even managed to successfully start a leaf cutting straight away – but lately they haven't been growing all that well. Especially this one in the back.

Drosera filiformis Florida Red dying back for some reason.
It seems to have just given up.
It has stopped producing leaves (that curled one has been frozen in place for a couple weeks now) and all the old growth is dying back. Also note that the offset I noticed in May has died off. It almost looks like it's going dormant for winter, but we're a bit early for that.

The other plant is doing better, but the dew is not particularly strong and it just doesn't look as robust as I would like.

Drosera filiformis Florida Red looking okay.
This plant is at least still growing. It's actually looking better than it has in weeks.
I'm not entirely sure what accounts for the feebleness of these plants. My temperatures are well within their range. My humidity isn't particularly high, but it's not rock-bottom either, and in my experience brighter light can usually make up for lower humidity for sundews. Maybe the soil is too dense? Or perhaps they'd like a higher water level.

Unfortunately I haven't had a great deal of time to spend with my plants lately, so I don't know how soon I'd be able to fiddle around to get them in better shape. Right now I'm just waiting to see what happens. Perhaps they'll just limp along for a season, go dormant, and then wake up vigorous and ready to grow next year. Or perhaps they'll die.

In any case I still have a 3 plantlets from my leaf cuttings. They should see me through in case anything untoward happens to the mother plant.

Drosera filiformis Florida Red plantlets.
C'mon little plantlets, you've gotta carry the torch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some recent additions

I recently visited California Carnivores and took a lot of pictures. I also used $50 in gift cards that my Drosera burmannii won for me at the 2014 BACPS Show. After an amusing misstep trying to buy some display plants, I came away very happy with 5 new acquisitions. I then took them on an hour ride home in a baking hot car with broken AC. They looked a bit wilted right when they got home, but in the intervening couple weeks they've perked up nicely.

The funniest plant I got is Utricularia longifolia.

Utricularia longifolia growing in living Sphagnum.
An organic-looking mound of U. longifolia and Sphagnum.
Damon was nice enough to hunt this plant up from somewhere in the back to sell to me, along with the living Sphagnum it's growing in.  U. longifolia is considered one of the weediest of the large, showy utric species. It also has truly fantastic flowers. My little plug is probably a ways away from blooming, but I've noticed some new growth peeking out from among the Sphagnum. Exciting!

I was also on the hunt for some pings. My girlfriend really likes them, and they add some nice diversity to my growspaces. They're also sort of hard to find for sale compared to sundews. But I found a cute little Pinguicula moranensis.

Pinguicula moranensis with pink leaves.
This plant looks so friendly. A friendly Ping.
Look at those cute little pink leaves! Ping are so adorable. I wonder what it is that makes them so cute? I should get some more and do some research :-P

Of course, I'm always looking for new sundews. I was able to get 3, including another addition to my Drosera capensis collection.

Drosera capensis red form.
The red form of D. capensis is quite different from other forms, not just in color.
It's the red form! This form has long petioles and fairly narrow laminae, and of course that fantastic red color. Right now it's sort of off to the side in one of my annex trays. One of the many chores I need to complete is a re-organization and consolidation of my trays to be more efficient and to show off plants better.

The plant that least enjoyed the car ride, and which has taken the long time to get back in shape, is Drosera collinsae.

Drosera collinsae.
Hopefully this D. collinsae perks up even more in the next few weeks.
It's finally gotten a bit of dew production going and has recovered from looking totally wilted. Hopefully if I feed it and it puts on some new growth it will start looking even better.

The last sundew I got has been my favorite for the last few weeks. It's showy, dewy, and growing like crazy.

Drosera venusta
I've really been admiring this plant lately.
Drosera venusta! And look, it came with lots of free Utricularia in the pot, hahahah. I feel like pictures I've seen of D. venusta online haven't done it justice. I'd thought it was just a rosetted species like Drosera aliciae or something, but these upright leaves are super nice. Nice colors as well.

I'll have to take another trip soon, since they're supposed to have Drosera slackii in stock. Gotta get more sundews!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Plant Profile: Drosera adelae

This is part of a series of posts describing my experiences with different species, their culture requirements, and photos of their growth in my collection. The full series can be read here, or by species at the Series page

Drosera adelae is one of the most common sundews in cultivation, but well-grown specimens are among the most delightful plants a grower can have in their collection. The uniquely lanceolate leaves, wonderful color, and vigorous growth make it one of the first sundews I'd recommend acquiring.

Drosera adelae and offsets.
A crowded pot, shortly before I separated and repotted everything. 7-13-2014
Much like Drosera capensis, D. adelae sometimes gets short shrift for being a beginner's plant, but I love beginner plants! It's true this is one of the first sundews I acquired when building my collection, but it has continued to be one of my favorites.

Baby Drosera adelae
A little baby plant. They grow up so fast! 3-11-2014
I received my little baby D. adelae from Natch Greyes back in March. No plant likes being shipped, and this one had one little leaf at first. But it perked up and started growing right away. It's wound up being one of the most vigorous plants in my collection, more so even than my D. capensis varieties.

Drosera adelae being fed.
D. adelae sure like to eat! 4-4-2014
D. adelae is one of the Three Sisters of Queensland, along with Drosera prolifera and Drosera schizandra. This group of 3 closely-related species from Queensland, Australia grow in a wet, jungle environment that is quite different from the bogs where most sundews are found. As a result these plants can tolerate (and D. schizandra requires) lower light levels than most other Drosera. In my opinion though, D. adelae grown in bright conditions looks much better than do specimens I've seen growing with less light. It has more red (mine would get very red indeed if I could resist feeding them so often) and is remarkably dewy.

Drosera adelae with pup.
My first offset. 5-21-2014
Closeup of Drosera adelae pup.
Check out how red and dewy the baby is! 5-21-2014
I grow mine in long-fiber sphagnum, sitting in the tray with the rest of my plants. The humidity is fine, but not particularly high, and temperatures range between 55 F and 85 F (12 C - 30 C). As the above pictures demonstrate, it grew from a small plantlet to a freely-offsetting mature plant within about 3 months. I feed it as often as I do my other plants (every 2-3 weeks) and it responds with lots of new leaves and long roots. I recently repotted it, sending 2 small plantlets off in a trade, and moving my largest plant into a big pot, while keeping another plantlet in one of my standard square pots. It looks a little ratty, like any recently-repotted plant will, but I'm looking forward to it getting even more free root run and continuing to multiply.

Recently-repotted Drosera adelae.
New digs! Gotta take some time to settle in. 7-16-2014

The Breakdown
  • media: Long-fiber sphagnum or living sphagnum are recommended, though my initial pot also involved some 1:1 peat:sand mix and the plant didn't really seem to mind.
  • light: Can tolerate lower light. Leaves will be longer under lower light, but will lack much red color and have less dew. Very bright conditions make for a more upright, healthier plant.
  • water: Use a tray and keep it wet. D. adelae is pretty tolerant of varying level of water as long as it doesn't dry out.
  • temperature: Don't let it freeze. Tolerates higher temperatures as long as there is higher humidity as well.
  • feeding: Feed regularly (every 2 weeks or so) for lots of growth. Regular feeding will keep the plant green, while less food means more red color.
  • propagation: Offsets freely when mature and healthy. Also produced long roots suitable for cuttings. Leaf cuttings are also apparently very easy. Does not self-seed – requires a genetically different plant for fertilization.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Drosera burmannii flower party

There's something brewing in my Drosera burmannii competition pot.

Drosera burmannii blooming up a storm.
D. burmannii is really going nuts with the blooming, but I guess that comes with being an annual.
That's nine flower stalks. Notice also how it's much less red than when it was in competition form – I've been feeding it. The largest sundew is hosting 3 stalks right now, including one which is stretching up above the lights and is just packed with buds.

Drosera burmannii flower stalk.
Notice the flower stalk actually splits into 3 to accommodate more buds. Nice!
I think it'll be another week or so before it's all bloomed out, and then another week or two for all the seed to mature. Then I'll be pretty much swimming in seed, which will be nice for trading and sharing. It's sort of a pain to work with though, because the seeds are really tiny. Like, ridiculously tiny. The smallest I've had to work with so far.

Drosera burmannii seed.
The seeds of D. burmannii are basically like grains of fine-ground pepper.
I mean look at that. I like to keep my seeds in packets of 50, but this is ridiculous. I'll have to find a better way to sort/measure them out. But at least I know I won't run out of D. burmannii any time soon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Field Trip: California Carnivores

A couple weeks ago I decided to take the hour trip to California Carnivores to use the gift cards I won at the BACPS Show back at the end of June. It's not too far, but it was a hot day, and the AC on my car is out. I was definitely happy to finally arrive.

California Carnivores sign.
The quirky sign and wonderful drought-friendly landscaping at California Carnivores.
Outdoor bogs at California Carnivores.
Lots of Sarracenia basking in the blazing sun.
California Carnivores is located in Sebastopol, CA, a bit north of San Francisco. It's a really nice little town, comprised primarily of nurseries, antique stores, and apple orchards. California Carnivores is mostly a large greenhouse, along with some outdoor bogs/growing areas.

It's also got the nicest display of carnivorous plants probably on the West Coast. I made the mistake of trying to buy a couple display plants – embarrassing! (Sorry Damon). This post is mostly focused on their displays, which were really something special. Got quite a few pictures!

Heliamphora at California Carnivores.
I don't know enough about Heliamphora to identify these, but they were in bloom and beautiful.
Utricularia longifolia in bloom at California Carnivores.
Utricularia longifolia putting on quite a show with some Sarracenia hybrids.
These (and several of the other more delicate plants) were growing near the wall of the nursery that was basically a huge swamp cooler. The cool, damp air was really nice, especially considering the temperature outside was in the low 90s F (~33 C). I wore a long sleeve shirt, which was a mistake.

Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora at California Carnivores.
This Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora was almost 4 ft (120 cm) tall. Wonderful!
Drosera binata var. multifida f. extrema at California Carnivores.
I think this hanging basket of Drosera binata is probably the extrema form. Lots of branching and red color.
Cephalotus follicularis at California Carnivores.
Amazing color on these Cephalotus follicularis.
Brocchinia reducta at California Carnivores.
Brocchinia reducta, a rare carnivorous bromeliad.
Darlingtonia california at California Carnivores.
These Darlingtonia california had wonderful coloration, and were BIG. The head was about the size of my fist.
Drosera erythrorhiza ssp. squamosa at California Carnivores.
Drosera erythrorhiza ssp. squamosa should really be asleep for the summer by now.
In addition to the display plants and the regular stock (i.e. lots of Sarracenia, South African sundews, VFTs, various Nepenthes, and others) there was a section with some Rare and Exciting plants. The first that caught my eye was Sarracenia 'Adrian Slack'. These not-so-large specimens of the prized cultivar were going for $125. I wish I had a better Sarracenia setup (although I probably wouldn't invest in a rare cultivar like this for a while). My girlfriend asked why these were so special compared to other S. leucophylla and I had to do a lot of explaining.

Sarracenia 'Adrian Slack' at California Carnivores.
The rare plant table is also the helpless yearning table.
These VFTs, however, required no explanation. Look at those silly little cartoon traps! Alas, I can't remember the name of the cultivar, or the price.

Wonderful new Dionaea muscipula (Venus Fly-Trap) cultivar at California Carnivores.
If I had a better VFT growing environment I would have totally snatched these up.
We also had a peek at one of their indoor propagation areas, with loads of plants getting prepared to be sold someday. Looks like a lot of work, but probably pretty satisfying work.

Propagation/growing area at California Carnivores.
Carnivores for days!
It was a really fun trip, and I'll definitely be back later in the season, when Damon said they'll probably have some Drosera slackii available. I don't know if I'll be able to make it to the potluck BBQ this upcoming Saturday. I hope so! Gotta get my AC fixed first though. The plants that I brought back with me (which I'll post about later) did not enjoy the hour-long ride in a baking hot car.

One thing I noticed going through these pictures – the quality of light in a greenhouse like that is really ideal for picture taking. No harsh shadows or weird colors. Just pretty plants!

Bromeliad and Tillandsia display at California Carnivores.
This bromeliad/Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) area is quite evocative.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sundew Propagation: The Summer Batch

Follow all the progress of the Summer Batch here.
A week or two ago I mentioned that I had finally set up a new propagation area, something I had been threatening for a long time. It basically consists of my regular lighting set (2 fixtures, 3 bulbs each, four-foot T8s), a number of 6 qt (5.7 liter) Sterilite containers, and some 6-cell seed starting trays. I can fit three 6-cell trays into one container, and then cover them with plastic for humidity. It's a pretty space-efficient setup.

My new sundew propagation area.
Propagation area operating at less than half capacity.
It's also impossible to photograph because the the lights, but we knew that already.

Yesterday I decided to finally start using it for propagation. I started 8 species propagating, 4 from seed and 4 from cuttings. To start off with, I mixed a special batch of media.

Uni-Gro peat moss
I wish this peat wasn't so expensive – it's much nicer to work with than the bulk stuff.
This is a smallish bag of expensive Uni-Gro peat moss I bought back when I was first starting out (before I got my big bale). It's coarser and cleaner than my bulk stuff, so I decided to use it for seed/cutting starts. I rinsed/squeezed it once, and then re-wet it with boiling water, which will hopefully also keep down moss/algae/mold for a while. Mixed with around equal parts washed sand, and the filled six of the 6-cell trays. The bottom is lined with long-fiber sphagnum to hold in the media and for wicking action.

Freshly-filled seed starter trays.
Seed starter trays ready and full of promise.
My first container I started with seeds I've collected. Six cells each were for Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' and Drosera burmannii Humpty Doo, while Drosera tokaiensis and Drosera capillaris Alabama got 3 each. I want to make sure the seeds from my D. tokaiensis are viable before I distribute them, and I'm going to see if D. capillaris would prefer cold stratification for good germination. I did about 5 seeds per cell except for the Drosera burmannii, where the seeds are just too small to sow that carefully.

The second container got cuttings. Drosera adelae and Drosera anglica CA x HI each got 6 cells, while Drosera venusta and Drosera madagascariensis Masoala, Madagascar each got 3. My D. anglica wound up with a bit of a haircut, but hopefully I'll have lots more plants to share soon.

Various leaf cuttings on the media.
From the left: D. venusta, D. magagascariensis, D. anglica, D. adelae. This was sticky work!
I then wrapped everything in plastic wrap to keep up humidity, taped 'em closed, and stuck 'em under my lights. I'm going to keep note of their progress here on the blog. Ideally I'll have some that are ready to share by the Autumn BACPS meeting, but at the latest I know I'll have some ready by winter.

Seed and leaf cutting starter trays under the lights.
And now we wait.
I'll be updating regularly on these starts as soon as things start happening. Stay tuned!

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 


None so far!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some progress on Drosera anglica CA x HI

About two months ago I posted about my NASC auction acquisitions, including a very exciting plant, Drosera anglica CA x HI. Here's the picture from that post:

Drosera anglica CA x HI in late June 2014
Drosera anglica CA x HI on May 22nd, two days after feeding.
What makes D. anglica CA x HI so exciting? Well first of all, it's a very handsome plant, with long, upright petioles, great coloration (it turns deep red when fed less often, but I love feeding my plants), and lots of dew. It's also special because of its lineage. D. anglica comes in two forms in the wild, a widespread temperate variety that's found in England (thus the name), continental Europe, North America, and Japan, and a tropical variety from Hawai'i. The going theory is that birds unwittingly carried seed to the remote Hawai'ian islands, and some of that seed was able to withstand never going dormant, so it wound up producing a tropical population. Weird!

Anyway, the temperate forms tend to be larger, greener, and need a dormant period. The tropical form is smaller, redder, a bit more delicate, and, well, tropical. The prized CA x HI form is a hybrid of plants from California and Hawai'i, and is bigger than the tropicals, redder than the temperates, and requires no dormancy. It's really the best of both worlds.

Here's the plant today:

Drosera anglica CA x HI in early July 2014
D. anglica CA x HI, July 7th.
Check out how much larger it's gotten. That's regular feeding for you!

Also, I mentioned in a recent post that I had started some cuttings, but wasn't able to get pictures of the strikes. A week later and they are totally exploding.

Drosera anglica CA x HI leaf cuttings.
These leaf cuttings are going nuts.
I've started hardening them off, and hope to start feeding soon. I'm definitely going to keep propagating – this plant is too vigorous and lovely not to share.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Drosera madagascariensis and other flower stalks

I was quite excited today to see that the largest Drosera madagascariensis I received from Not a Number during the NASC Auction has a flower stalk!

Drosera madagascariensis flower stalk.
Discovering surprises like this is one of my favorite things about having a collection of plants.
I love this species, and am super excited to start some seedlings in the next month or two. Better feed this plant well for the next few weeks so the seed sets nice and strong. The whole pot of them are looking nice.

Drosera madagascariensis in the tray.
I'm using that cocktail straw as a bit of a stake for the plant as it grows lankier.
There's also some madness going on nearby with my Drosera prolifera. Through the magic of false vivipary the one plant I received has already become 3 or 4, and there's another flower stalk on the way.

Drosera prolifera colony.
I think these might like somewhat higher humidity, but they're certainly still growing well.
The mother plant has become more compact as well, probably due to my higher light conditions (this plant is being kept brighter than normal for its species). It's also trying to reach into other pots too!

Drosera prolifera flower stalk.
I should replace that peat:sand pot on the left with some LFS and start a new colony.
Every D. prolifera flower stalk produces a plantlet on the tip (thus the specific epithet "prolifera"), and the stalks stretch out horizontally, so they'll invade all your other pots. It makes propagation a total breeze though.

Speaking of non-vertical flower stalks, I'm having to keep an eye on my Drosera burmannii.

Drosera burmannii with long flower stalk.
These four look like undersea creatures almost..
That flower stalk started out upright, but now it's leaning. There are still buds developing, so I don't want to clip it yet, but eventually it's going to be pushed all the way down by new growth.

Drosera burmannii pushing its flower stalk over.
Got that peachy pink "just fed" color.
I don't want to lose a bunch of seed from it spilling out, and I certainly don't want a bunch of surprise D. burmannii popping up in my other pots, so I may just end up clipping it a bit early. This stalk is about 6 inches (15 cm) tall – the one of my largest specimen is twice that! I'm going to be swimming in D. burmannii seed pretty soon.

On the total opposite side of the size spectrum, one of my Drosera brevifolia has sent up a stalk with two buds for the first time.

Drosera brevifolia blooming.
I can't imagine seeking these tiny little guys out in the wild.
Drosera brevifolia flower stalk.
Well done D. brevifolia. Well done.
I usually get 10-12 seeds per bud, so it's been slow accumulating seed compared to my other plants. I suspect they might need cold stratification, but I'm not sure. Guess I can do some test germination to see. I also know some seed spilled into the pot, so if it germinates soon I guess we'll have our answer. These are really fun, and are smaller than most of my pygmy sundews.

It's my great dream to have lots of Drosera seed available to sell and trade and share. Getting closer!