Hargrave Triffid

A Photographic Record of Plant Growth

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Flower Power

Venus 28-06-14 Flower II

So what should I do about that flower?

According to http://www.flytrapcare.com/venus-fly-trap-cultivation.html, “If you are growing your plant in less than ideal conditions, or you just want the biggest traps possible, it’s best to not let them flower. Try to cut the flower stalk off as soon as you notice it. Flowering robs the plant of precious energy that it could otherwise use to make itself larger or produce better leafs and traps. Also, as a flytrap grows, it will often form little offshoots with a second rosette or multiple rosettes of leaves. These offshoots will eventually form their own root systems. When you go to repot your venus fly trap you can gently pry the rosettes apart and have separate Venus fly traps. If you cut the flower off, the Venus flytrap will be more likely to divide and form separate rosettes through the growing season due to the fact it can put more energy into growing.

Unfortunately for me, Venus was delivered with the flower stalk already developed and the buds fully formed.


Barry Rice, whose book, ‘Growing Carnivorous Plants’ comes highly recommended, states categorically that a venus fly trap should not be allowed to flower. “The process of making flowers takes a great deal of the plant’s energy. After flowering, a Venus flytrap will be sluggish for nearly an entire year. In the wild they get over this slow period very quickly. But in cultivation, where the light, humidity, and other conditions are rarely ideal, the plants may never escape this weakened state. In fact, they may even die! This is why, unless you are a very skilled flytrap grower or have spare plants to risk, I advise you to trim those flower stalks off as soon as you can.  … The flower stalk will get taller and taller, … When you remove the young flower stalk, the plant may make more. Trim them off too!

Apparently, the previous paragraph is not clear enough for many of you. So let me be extra specific! See the cylindrical (rod-shaped) stalk in the [picture below]? The one with the bud at the top? This is a flower stalk just emerging. Cut it off at the base.


If you wait until the flower stalks are so tall the flower buds begin to enlarge (which happens at about 10-20 cm (4-8 inches), you might as well let the plant flower–the damage is done. What the heck, pollinate the plant and maybe you’ll get seed. Your flytrap is probably going to die, though, unless you are a pretty skilled grower.

You will often hear people say that the whole thing about cutting off flowers is bogus, and that their plants do just fine without the flower buds being removed. I think those people are very good growers (by luck or by skill), but have forgotten what it was like to be a beginning grower. ” [http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2620.html ]


Well, that sounds pretty definitive doesn’t it. As I have previously mentioned, my previous two venus fly traps have both deteriorated and eventually died once they have flowered, although on a positive note I have never observed a period of dormancy, my last plant still lasted about three years but never formed as large or as many traps once it had flowered.

A number of other internet pages do suggest that a healthy venus fly trap will flower without dying [http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/carnivor/msg0600302126643.html?18 ; http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/carnivor/msg120047429908.html ]. The latter of these two pages states that, “A strong vigorous plant can flower and produce seeds without it being detrimental to the plant, but typically in home culture, it is better to have the plant direct its energy into vegetative growth.”


So, in summary, it’s probably better to remove the flower stalk as soon as it appears but once the buds expand, removal makes little difference. Letting the plant flower diverts all the energy from trap growth and may cause the plant to deteriorate or even die. Venus’s days could be numbered unless I am a good grower (by luck or by skill).



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Dendritic Reflective: Week 2

Here is my review of progress after a fortnight:

Basil 28-06-14

The Basil Brothers

Have had to remove a few dead stems from both pots and give the lads a glug of water this week but progress is going well. Some evidence of slug chomping, as we have a bit of a slug problem within the house, but nothing too concerning. Possibility of more Italian cookery this week, so the brothers may be in demand!!


Pitcher 28-06-14     Pitcher 28-06-14 New Shoots      Pitcher 28-06-14 IV     Pitcher 28-06-14 III


Whilst nearly all of the tallest pitchers are beginning to die off, going brown and dry, with some developing large holes, the smaller pitchers look like they are doing well and there are plenty of new shoots as well. There has been some sun this week but also a lot of rain – I’m blaming Wimbledon which always seems to spell poor summer weather in London.

Weather Forecast w-c 29-06-14

The forecast shows that Pitch should hopefully get 5+ hours of sun each day in the coming week. Yesterday I also ordered some more soil mix so can hopefully soon make doubly sure that his rhizome is covered. Delivery should take about two weeks so I should get by mid-July.


Sundew 28-06-14 Sundew 28-06-14 II


To paraphrase a friend of mine, watching Sunny grow is like watching evolution itself. It’s been a fortnight now and there is nothing to report except that she is not dead. As I have previously stated, I was very disappointed that Sunny, whilst mature, was so tiny when she arrived.

Triffid Nurseries LIbrary Pic - Drosera nidiformis

The picture above is from the vendor’s website and was what I thought I would receive. Nuff said! As I was buying some new soil mix I thought I would order another sundew and I have therefore invested in some Drosera Anglica, a sundew species native to Britain and similar looking to nidiformis. I also ordered some Drosera dichrosepala, a pygmy sundew, for something a little different.


Venus 28-06-14 Venus 28-06-14 Flower


Although there are no signs of new traps forming, the two remaining traps still appear to be going strong. The flower is nearly out so I will have to decide whether I should remove this, it seems apparent that with mid summer not far gone there should still be new traps forming.


Mint 28-06-14 II     Mint 28-06-14

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Despite the photo-bombing by Pitch and those infernal slugs, Cass and Aggy continue to grow well. Think the sun and rain this week have suited them.

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Please Be Upstanding

Pitcher 23-06-14     Pitcher 23-06-14 Close-Up

Today I have continued to clear the excess soil from Pitch’s crown and made sure that the rhizome is covered, largely by building the soil up at the back of the rhizome. I have finally got around to doing some serious work to try and keep those pitchers vertical. Not sure how it’ll last in the breeze but at the moment it does the job. Have used wooden kebab skewers that were lying around in the kitchen drawer and was extra careful to try not to stab the rhizome.


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Dendritic Reflective: Week 1

Here is my review of progress after a week:

Basil 21-06-14

The Basil Brothers

They’ve been cannibalised a bit this week for my culinary needs but they’re both doing pretty well. Leaves removed give way to new leaves, just a shame that Tall Basil seems to think he’s a tree. There are some smaller leaves coming on so hopefully these will even things out. Cooking a lot of Italian food at the moment though so I better not overdo it!


Pitcher 21-06-14    Pitcher 21-06-14 New Shoots


Pitch finally got a good dose of sun today. I have had a look at his crown and rhizome and have again raised it a little higher in the pot. The back rhizome is at such a slant and there are also quite a few little pitchers forming (as can be see in the second photo) so I have decided to build up the soil at the back of the rhizome and remove soil from the front. I have also placed the plant tag at the back of the rhizome so that I know where this is. I do not think that there is quite enough soil in the pot so I will be ordering some more carnivorous plant soil mix. The rhizome is not really supported enough in the soil and consequently the tall pitchers are dragging it forward. As can be seen in the first photo above I have also applied a loose elastic band to get the pitchers to stand to attention, meaning that those insects better watch out. Hope there’s no wind this week though.


Sun Dew 21-06-14 II     Sun Dew 21-06-14


Not much to report on Sunny. She’s so tiny that it’s difficult to see what’s going on in there and is even more difficult to photograph. Whispering so that the others don’t hear, I have to report that sun dews are my favourite carnivores. I was rather disappointed when I opened the envelope and discovered that Sunny was so small. She is a beauty but it’s gong to be sometime before I’ll be able to share a decent photograph of her with you. As I have to order some more soil mix it is tempting to order another sun dew and stick this one on the South West facing window sill to see if carnivores may prefer it there.


Venus 21-06-14     Venus 21-06-14 Backtrap


Venus seems okay although the back left trap and the front trap near to the ground are both now completely dead. The front trap was never properly open and not in great shape but the back left trap seemed okay. Venus is the only plant that has not been repotted since I acquired her. She also looks like she is due to flower soon. When previously owned venus fly traps have flowered this seems to mean that new traps do not grow anymore. I presume that this may be something to do with the plant using so much energy and nutrients in producing the flower, although it may just be my bad gardening. It is true to say that I have never got past the flowering stage before and it has always signalled the beginning of the end with my plants slowly diminishing after the flower has died. I did read somewhere that it is a good idea to pick the buds off as they flower but will have to check this. Having only two traps left is a bit of a worry although they both look to be in pretty good nick, particularly the tall one.


Mint 21-06-14

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Comparison with last weeks picture show Cass and Aggy to be taller, although not quite as bushy following my removal of the dead leaves today following suspected slug damage. As it has rained a few times this week I have not even watered them, being petrified of over-watering them and knowing that mint is probably the hardiest plant in this collection. When tidying the girls up today, the leaves are not dry and smell pleasantly minty. The plants look healthy and provided the slugs stay away I’m confident that I will be sipping my first batch of mint tea soon. I must say that I am really looking forward to it.

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House Keeping

Not much to report today except that after the destruction caused to Aggy yesterday, this evening Cass is showing signs that she has definitely been had for dinner by some foul creature. Not much in the way of damage and no trails visible in the pot but holes in the leaves all the same. Will be time for some housekeeping this weekend:

(1) Remove any dying leaves and any broken branch stems from Cass and Aggy.

(2) Review whether Pitch’s crown is high enough above the soil.

(3) Look at supporting Pitch’s pitchers so that they are vertical.

The latter two items follow advice from the website: http://www.pitcherplant.com/care_sheets/sarrac_care.html which states that: “Most larger Sarracenia need a depth of about 12-16 inches and spacing between the plants of about 12 inches. Smaller species require less space (8-10 inches.) Repot/replant when crowded. The following illustration shows proper planting depth. The back rhizome (away from the crown) can slant deeper, if needed, to keep existing leaves vertical.

Correct Way to Plant a Pitcher PlantI have already re-potted Pitch once having seen this diagram because I thought the crown to be too low. Unfortunately this was after giving him a good water meaning that there was a lot of wet soil in the gaps around the top of the crown. I am going to investigate this weekend.

This website also has the following to say about Pitchers, “Pitchers are often seasonally produced … S. rubra usually are at their best in the late summer and fall [Autumn]. Hoop or cross-branch supports for the leaves can be helpful, especially with wide-mouthed varieties and plants with tall tops that are newly transplanted. These supports are optional.

I have been thinking for a while that the pitchers need some support as the largest ones are currently leaning substantially at best and below horizontal at worst. Pitchers at horizontal and below will surely be rendered completely unable to catch prey.

For the sake of completion regarding advice from this website I will also list what it says of sunlight requirements for pitcher plants: “Pick a location that gets five or more hours a day of direct sun. … Spindly growth that is floppy usually indicates the plant needs more sun. Much less sun is needed when the plant goes dormant in the late fall through winter.

It’s the summer solstice tomorrow and the forecast is stunning so let’s hope Pitch is feeling a bit better by the time we return to the overcast norm on Sunday.

Weather Forecast 21-06-14

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Not So Extra Strong Mint

Mint 19-06-14 II   Mint 19-06-14

I do believe there was some sunshine this morning and forecast is good for a few hours tomorrow and excellent for Saturday. A different problem today: Aggy has fallen foul of the pests and been subjected to vandalism. Two of the branched stems are broken and there’s a good amount of goo in the cleft on top of the central stem. Some remedial work required at the weekend methinks.