Hargrave Triffid

A Photographic Record of Plant Growth

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Dendritic Reflective: Week 6

Here is my review of progress after six weeks:


Basil 26-07-14

The Basil Brothers

Although I haven’t cooked Italian this week, the boys are looking rather parched. It’s been hot and I don’t seem to have given them enough water. Gave them a good drink today and hopefully they’ll perk up soon. Was planning on cooking spaghetti bolognese tonight though…


Pitch 26-07-14     Pitch 26-07-14 II


As the old pitchers continue to brown and die off the circle of life seems complete as the new pitchers grow and develop. Some have now reached maturity and have not yet turned brown, although some of the other newer pitchers are already turning brown in parts. Having scoured the internet it seems that there could be a number of reasons why the pitchers are turning brown. A pitcher may turn brown because it is going into dormancy [http://www.ehow.com/info_12030284_pitcher-plant-turning-brown.html]; because it has been over-watered [https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090706175830AAhDI3S]; because the pitcher has filled with insects [http://www.flytrapcare.com/phpBB3/why-my-pitcher-plant-stems-turn-brown-t12938.html]. These all seem incredibly unlikely in Pitch’s case.

More likely is the suggestion at http://www.ehow.com/info_12030284_pitcher-plant-turning-brown.html that, “Pitcher plants prefer full-sun locations, but you must be careful if your plants are located in a window because they may receive too much direct sun that’s been amplified by the window and burn. It’s best to place them in a bright window where the sun doesn’t shine directly…”  I wonder if the sun reflecting back off the window is scorching the pitchers. I have already noted in these pages that the pitchers towards the middle of the plant seem to be in better condition than those at the outer extremity, although closer inspection reveals that some of the newer pitchers towards the centre of the plant are also turning brown. Additionally, the sub-horizontal long curled pitcher growing out of the left of the plant is right next to the window and seems to be less brown than other leaves.

http://www.carnivorousplants.blogspot.co.uk/2005/09/pitcher-plant-leaves-are-turning-brown.html says that, “browning is part of the plants normal growth cycle“, stating that older leaves that have turned brown can be cut off without harming the plant. However, this information has been written in early September and seems to relate to, “older leaves produced early in the spring“. On the plus side the site says that sarracenia rubra, “produce their prettiest leaves in the early autumn. By late October, expect all of the plants to loose [sic] some of their leaves as they enter dormancy… the best leaves are yet to come.

http://www.cpukforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=42308 suggests that if a plant has been used to lower light levels (i.e. at the garden centre from whence it came) then moving it into full sunlight may scorch the pitchers. So, acclimatisation could possibly account for the browning of the pitchers. It is certainly notable that there had been little sunshine until the summer solstice and that it was about a week later that the first pitchers began to go brown and dry. This seems the most feasible explanation.

A pitcher plant owner tells at this same site of how he gave his plant a ‘radical haircut’ and six weeks later new pitchers came aplenty. I am very tempted to give Pitch the same to maximise any future growth before dormancy.


Whilst on the subject of dormancy, I have also come across some very interesting information regarding dormancy and re-potting. Still a long way off but will make a note of the link now: http://www.wikihow.com/Raise-Carnivorous-Plants


Sunny 26-07-14     Sunny 26-07-14 II


Sunny is absolutely thriving and the curled leaves in the pictures above show that she is regularly tucking into insects who pay her too much attention. She has come on leaps and bounds and there is plenty of new growth in her pot. What a star. It looks like she might even flower soon.


Drake 26-07-14     Drake 26-07-14 II


Drake continues to be absolutely magnificent and being much bigger than Sunny continues to lead the way in insect munching activity. What a pair they make.


Piggy 26-07-14      Piggy 26-07-14 III


Although Piggy cannot really compete with his cousins for insect catching, the move onto the South Western windowsill has done him the world of good. Whilst there is little to report from last week, the sun dew leaves are developing nicely and I have high hopes that he’ll survive until dormancy.


Venus 26-07-14    Venus 26-07-14 II


As my mobile phone has recently packed up I have invested in a new one, which rather happily comes complete with a 5 mega pixel camera. This means that I am able to not only confirm but also present the new trap forming in Venus’s pot. Hallelujah. I was getting a bit worried there for a while but it looks like the old girl might pull through.


Aphro 26-07-14    Aphro 26-07-14 II      Aphro 26-07-14 III


Plenty of new traps developing in Aphro’s pot too. No new snacks to report but am sure it won’t be long till the lad gets hungry again.


Mint 26-07-14     Mint 26-07-14 II

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Whilst it has not really been long enough to tell yet, I have a good feeling that the ladies are settling in well to their new slightly shadier position. There is even a tiny new stalk growing from the soil just to the north north east of the cider pot. Although the ladies’ leaves have taken a bit of a battering from the sun, there are plenty of new leaves sprouting out. As mentioned in the week there are also flowers forming. And still no sign of a gastropod attack despite their new proximity to ground level!


Calathea 26-07-14     Calathea 26-07-14 II    Calathea 26-07-14 III    Calthea 26-07-14 IV


I estimate that Gronda is still at curl factor 2. Have continued to spray his leaves every second or third day but will have to wait a little longer to determine whether the big drink I gave him a few days ago is enough to satisfy his thirst for a while.


Hulk 26-07-14


As Hulk has been here for very almost a month, he must be somewhat decrying my hospitality in not yet giving him a drink. As he arrived on 1st July it seems right and just that I give him a wee drink on 1st August. It has been very difficult to monitor any change in this plant after four weeks, talk about a poker face. The worry is that decline could come rapidly once the tipping point is reached. Will give him a drink with a pinch, punch for the first of the month and we will see what occurs.


Snake 26-07-14


Another plant who plays his cards close to his chest. There is little difference to be spotted in this most hardy of plants, from the plant brought through the door four weeks ago. Snake seems to be happily surviving the death cave of a bathroom and the humidity from my daily shower appears to be sufficient to his needs. As you were.


Flapjack 26-07-14


Like his larger cousins, this little chap does not give away much in the way of change from week to week. My girlfriend has still not claimed him (and not sure if I’d let him go now) and I really need to find him a permanent spot of residence. It’s not a bad spot where he is currently but he’s so small and I wish to protect his vulnerability to cats and clumsiness. A better home in decent sunshine but away from ground level would seem to be desirable, fitting him in somewhere may be more of a problem.


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A Drop to Drink

Calathea 24-07-14     Calathea 24-07-14 II     Calathea 24-07-14 III

Just a note to say that after 24 days I have finally taken Gronda outside, placed him on top of a large rectangular tub and given him a good drink. The water was from a watering can left outside overnight in order to bring it to room temperature or thereabouts. The soil was allowed to completely drain and Gronda was then returned to his position in the kitchen. For good measure I then sprayed the leaves with the spray watering can that is also left full in the kitchen so that the water can come up to room temperature. Tap water was used in both cases.

The current curled leaves are all towards the window-facing side of the plant (to the right of the former picture) and are shown in the latter pictures. There is another curled leaf on the same side that is quite close to the top of the pot. This leaf is rolled up like a pancake. I must admit that I have not noticed this leaf before and it cannot be seen from front-on in current or earlier pictures because it is obscured by the outer foliage. Not sure if this is a new leaf or whether it has rolled up due to lack of hydration. Will continue to monitor the situation but as the explanation for this leaf cannot yet be substantiated I am going to class the aridity of Gronda at Curl-Factor 2. One level for each of his curled leaves. Have ordered a Moisture Metre, for which I am awaiting delivery, so hopefully soon I can dispense with such a primitive measure.


I can also happily report that Cass and Aggy seem to be settling in to their new surroundings. No sign of gastropod attack and no hint of the cider trap being touched. It appears that showers are forecast for tomorrow and although there is still a chance of some strong sun on Saturday the weather forecast seems to suggest that whilst it will remain hot, the sunshine enjoyed recently may temporarily be on the wane.

Weather Forecast 24-07-14

However, it feels that it is likely to remain humid and London weather in recent years has followed a similar pattern. Recent official weather forecasts have been pretty inaccurate and things will be left as they are at the moment although I will definitely return the ladies to their windowsill locale should that sun stay away more regularly. August, what have you in store?

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Mint Moves and Munching, Beware the Sunshine

Mint 23-07-14

Poor old Cass and Aggy have continued to suffer the relentless sunshine and to curb their torture I have finally got around to moving them. I have placed them closer to the floor and hopefully in a little more shade. I gave them a big drink of water in the late evening and have also put a Gu pot in the corner of the pot with a little cider in it which will hopefully attract any slugs with designs on them. Still hoping that I can have that pot of mint tea by the end of the summer so hopefully the ladies will now flourish in their new spot. I can also report that the ladies appear to be beginning to flower. Must check how this affects growth.


Venus 23-07-14    Venus 23-07-14 II

Whereas that lone trap of Venus’s seems to be struggling to open, and wow she’s certainly putting a lot of effort into trying into trying to open that trap, I do believe that there is a new trap taking form. Very difficult to see in the second picture but at the bottom of the flower stalk there does seem to be a new leaf forming. Fingers and traps crossed.


Sunny 23-07-14     Drake 23-07-14

Again difficult to see, and you may have to take my word for it, but both Sunny and Drake are opening their account and trying in their more gentle way to compete with Aphro’s exemplar of insect digestion. The two small black blobs on the left most leaf of Sunny are two small flies that have become stuck and are being slowly digested. A small fly can also be seen stuck to the top most leaf of Drake in the top middle of the picture. To the left of the middle can be seen what approximates to a shepherd’s crook. This is a leaf that has begun to curl to digest a stuck small insect. The VFTs may be leading the way but the droseras are hot on their heels.


Pitch 23-07-14 II     Pitch 23-07-14

Pitch meanwhile also seems to be continuing to get scorched by the sun, and I thought that this guy was from the Deep South. Surely a little English sunshine isn’t going to be too much for him. It does appear however that some of the older new growth is beginning to scorch even before the new pictures develop and it is only the pitchers towards the back of the plant, helpfully shaded by their neighbours, that are retaining their distinctive red colouring. Previous external advice reproduced in these pages suggested that pitcher plants need five plus hours a day of direct sun, and all the internet advice I have seen so far appears to back this up. In Pitch’s location I am doubtful that he will get that much sun but he still seems to be toasting slowly. Perhaps he is not getting enough water. Although his water tray is almost two inches deep it is on a slant. I will be keeping a close eye on all future new growth to see if those pitchers mature properly before browning. Most impressive of all the current new growth is the curly pitcher in the latter picture. Not quite sure where he thinks he’s going.

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Dendritic Reflective: Week 5

Here is my review of progress after five weeks:


Basil 19-07-14

The Basil Brothers

Despite another bout of Italian cookery during the week the brothers roll on in their practical and indomitable way (touch wood).


Pitch 19-07-14   Pitch 19-07-14 III


Feeling a bit guilty over Pitch this week as a friend of mine, who is also a self-employed landscape gardener, came to stay for the weekend, and the boozy barbeque that we enjoyed on the Friday night led to Pitch getting a bit singed. The two long pitchers that project from the front of the plant, which had stubbornly refused to remain propped up vertically, and were beginning to brown and die anyway, were the victims of this endeavour. Aside from that I am still very happy with the ongoing development of the new pitchers. Although probably need to move him away from the barbeque to prevent more serious future mishap.


Sunny 19-07-14


The previously mentioned gardener friend kindly lent me his camera to use for the photographs in the reflective this week so I have been able to capture a higher resolution picture of Sunny in all her new found glory. She’s really beginning to impress.


Drake 19-07-14


Comparing a picture of Drake this week with a picture from when he first came reveals little difference as far as I can see, although my girlfriend reckons that the later picture shows more prolific and colourful growth. The plant still looks healthy so I’m happy.


Pygmy 19-07-14    Pygmy 19-07-14 Zoom


The higher resolution camera has also captured a better picture of Piggy. He’s a hard chap to get in focus, but since moving him around the corner to a bit more shade he has responded magnificently and the wonderful new growth can be seen in the picture above. Glad he’s settling in.


Venus 19-07-14


As mentioned in the week, Sunny’s single remaining trap is now closed and the flower is beginning to blacken and die back. There is still no indication of what, if anything, is inside the trap although mercifully so far there is no sign that the trap is itself blackening. Hopefully, the trap will reopen this week, although long term I still fear the worst.


Aphro 19-07-14     Aphro 19-07-14 II


The use of the higher resolution camera has captured the after effects of Aphro’s considerable appetite perfectly, with four traps having now reopened revealing the content of previous meals. The front left trap having opened since passing to me was closed in last week’s reflective but has now again reopened. The fly inside has thus now been eaten twice. This carnivore is the king of macabre digestion.


Mint 19-07-14

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

With temperatures going over thirty on several days this week, the ladies have been getting a bit scorched this week. I have watered them three times this week already but have still had to remove substantial amounts of dead stem from both plants. This has left them looking balder than at any point since I had first had them. Progress is going backwards here and with more high temperatures forecast I may have to review my care plan for these plants.

A gardener friend of mine who visited this weekend suggested that mint likes a fair bit of water but that this must be allowed to drain. This sounds similar to the way in which advice suggests that calathea are watered. Having reviewed advice on http://myfolia.com/plants/6416-moroccan-mint-mentha-spicata-var-crispa  it states the following for Morrocan mint: “Plant in a location that enjoys dappled sun and remember to water moderately. ” It is likely that I may have to move the sisters to an area where they are not in full sunshine but alas the South Western facing window sill is not deep enough to accommodate the pot. Placing the plants on the floor will leave them more susceptible to cats, foxes and gastropods. Could perhaps try to leave them in their current position and just water them more but re-positioning would seem to be the best plan and worked well for Piggy.


Calathea 19-07-14


It’s been very hot this week and the back door has been open a lot but despite the on-line warnings, Gronda does not appear to have been too bothered by draughts. Have been misting him every two or three days but have still not give him a substantial watering. Only the single leaf remains slightly curled, seen in the picture above as the highest leaf of all. Will continue as I have been.


Hulk 19-07-14


Another week has passed where Hulk has been left to his own devices with no water except for the odd amount of humidity arising from the kitchen sink. Comparison with pictures of Hulk upon his arrival show little change although it does appear that some of his spikes have drooped slightly from a more vertical position. Does this indicate a lack of watering? Perhaps after three weeks it is finally time to give the lad a proper drink!


Snake 19-07-14


As my girlfriend has opined, Snake is ticking along nicely. No change to treatment required at this stage.


Flapjack 19-07-14 II


Following his excursion outside, little Flapjack has now returned inside. Probably a good job as with the high temperatures have also come thunderstorms and heavy rain. The rain may have been extremely problematic. Comparison with the first week indicates the leaves to be slightly redder, due to good sunshine, with the leaves curling slightly. The lowermost leaves are floppy and somewhat lacklustre. There also appears to be possible new growth at the top although will have to monitor to see if this is the case.

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Shut Your Trap

Venus 16-07-14     Aphro 16-07-14

I hadn’t noticed the other day that another of Aphro’s back traps had also snaffled a daddy long legs. These two back traps have now fully opened revealing the gruesome remains of the eaten insects. A few of his other traps have now shut but there is little indication of what may be trapped inside.

Venus’s single remaining trap has also shut, again with no indication of what may be inside. I have previously stated that I have read that traps may only shut four times (and then reopen) before they die off. I am beginning to wonder if Venus has had her chips, if this trap dies then there will not be a lot of plant left as the flower too seems to be dying off.

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First Night Out/The Butcher of Hargrave

Flapjack 13-07-14

As there have now been persistent showers since last evening, and with more expected today, this is the first chance I have had to take a photo of Flapjack in his new habitat. Am not sure how much sun he will get today and he also appears to have got a soaking overnight. Still not sure whether the outdoor life will suit him, particularly if the showers keep coming.

Weather Forecast 13-07-14

Am hoping that the little fella will be able to dry out today before he gets another soaking but still think that this might be too much water for him. I read somewhere that the leaves turn redder, the more sun they get so can use this as an indicator but will have to monitor how waterlogged he gets.


Aphro 13-07-14    Aphro 13-07-14 II

Over on the South East facing External Kitchen Window sill I have noticed this morning that a second of Aphro’s traps has a munched fly in it. Thinking about it, it is likely that both flies were taken by (or given to) the plant whilst in B&Q and I have only just noticed them. My earlier shots of Aphro seem to show that this back right trap was already closed as also was the front trap that has recently opened. Whilst this may cast into doubt Aphro’s credentials as a bona fide scourge of insects, I can confirm that Aphro has definitely eaten at least one insect since being in situ. The tallest back trap has captured a daddy long legs whose legs can clearly be seen protruding from the trap. So proud!

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Dendritic Reflective: Week 4

Here is my review of progress after four weeks:


Basil 12-07-14

The Basil Brothers

Although the chaps probably need a little bit more water than I’ve been giving them recently, and despite utilising their services once again for some Italian cookery this week, they still continue to flourish. Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto!!!


Pitch 12-07-14    Pitch 12-07-14 II    Pitch  12-07-14 III


Feeling a bit guilty because the new soil mix has been delivered but I have not, as yet, got around to topping up the soil in Pitch’s pot. This is partly due to my inertia (and I will not seek to excuse myself within these pages) but also partly because Pitch is actually doing pretty well. Although the old pitchers are still dying off, the new growth continues to be most impressive. Happy to monitor for the time being and see what happens though if the new pitchers die off too soon then I will be forced into action.


Sunny 12-07-14


I was spurred to be joyful over Sunny’s progress earlier in the week so there is not much yet to add. Still delighted that she is settling and growing well. Am sure that she must have a competitive streak.


Drake 12-07-14


After two weeks Drake looks more or less the same. An impressive plant on delivery and has so far lost none of his spirit or charm.


Pygmy 12-07-14    Pygmy 12-07-14 II


Have been a little bit worried about Piggy, suspecting that he may have had a little too much sun. Marcel Lecoufle’s book, Carnivorous Plants: Care and Cultivation, confirms that pygmy sundews prefer shade or half-shade rather than the full sunlight preferred by other carnivores. To remedy this I have moved Piggy onto the South West facing External Kitchen Windowsill meaning that he will receive substantially less sun. Let’s see how he fares.


Venus 12-07-14    Aphro 12-07-14

Venus & Aphro

Nothing major to report about the fly traps. Venus’s solo trap remains healthy and the flower seems to have done it’s thang. Aphro opened one of his traps to reveal a munched fly but since then, despite still looking hungry there is nothing of particular interest. Certainly no signs of any developing flower stalks I am happy to say.


Mint 12-07-14 III    Mint 12-07-14    Mint 12-07-14 II

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

It has been hot recently and although there have also been frequent showers it seems that Cass and Aggy require a bit more watering. I was under the impression that rain would provide enough lubrication but as can be seen from the photographs these ladies look thirsty despite. Have been told off by my girlfriend for starving them of water so from now on the ladies will be watered once a week, and we’ll see if they perk up. Am also seriously considering slug pellets in the tub as of all the plants, the mint seems to encourage the little gastropods most of all.


Calathea 12-07-14    Calathea 12-07-14 IV     Calathea 12-07-14 II     Calathea 12-07-14 III


After two weeks I have still not properly watered Gronda at the base of the plant. I have however misted the leaves three or four times each week. Is this enough watering? I must report that this week I have had to remove a dead leaf from near to the bottom of the plant and there are another two leaves, also near the bottom, that are beginning to brown. Is this because the leaves near the bottom do not get enough sunshine or is it because the plant is not getting enough water? The majority of the leaves are fine but one is showing signs of curling. From what I have read this is a surefire sign that the plant is not getting enough water. The watering recommendation was that the plant is watered heavily but allowed to drain. Time to act now maybe.


Eve's Needle Cactus 12-07-14


Hulk has also not been watered for two weeks but looks exactly the same as the day I brought him back from the shop. No signs of those spines falling off yet despite this cactus supposedly liking a bit more water than other cacti. Hulk just doesn’t seem bothered.


Snake 12-07-14


I noticed this week that we have similar plants at work in huge pots. Seems to suggest that these guys must be durable and resilient. This fella still hasn’t been watered apart from my daily shower when it gets quite humid in the bathroom. This state of affairs so far seems to be suiting snake so my policy of non-watering will continue.


Flapjack 12-07-14


Last, but certainly not least, we visit Flapjack. My girlfriend tonight accused me of not taking enough care of him and it is true to say that I have not watered him yet but that advice did say to err on the side of not watering and called the plant drought tolerant. Despite this my girlfriend has watered him and moved him outside where he now resides next to Piggy on the South West facing External Kitchen Windowsill. I am therefore taking new instruction on his care.

According to http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/paddle-plant.html the plant should be kept outside and moved to sunlight gradually. The plant should be re-potted in spring and not in too much larger a container.

Other websites say that re-potting should occur ‘at the end of the potting season’. Cactus soil is recommended.

My girlfriend has therefore found him a home and says she will leave him as he is for now until she can get some cactus/succulent soil. Who am I to argue?