Here is my review of progress after seventeen weeks:
The first question over the next few weeks is likely to be, will it be Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn in London this week?
We have severe weather warnings for rain tomorrow night and some wind is threatened but the coldest expected night temperature is predicted to be a mere 10°C this week. I have ordered an external thermometer that can be stuck to the external window and viewed from inside so that I can take precautions should the Winter suddenly descend in a hurry without warning but it has not yet arrived, despite being supposedly delivered by yesterday at the latest!!!
In the meantime I have been taking measurements with my Maximum/Minimum Thermometer in the greenhouse in various states to see whether the plants will be happy.
|Start of Measurement||End of Measurement||Location||Max||Min|
|05/10/2014||1430hrs||06/10/2014||1730hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf||37.1*C||9.2*C|
|06/10/2014||1730hrs||07/10/2014||1711hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf||46.5*C||9.0*C|
|07/10/2014||1711hrs||08/10/2014||1943hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf – Left Zipper Open||39.2*C||7.7*C|
|08/10/2014||1943hrs||09/10/2014||1943hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf – Left Zipper Open quite widely||42.5*C||11.0*C|
|09/10/2014||1943hrs||10/10/2014||1828hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf – Left and Right Zipper Open quite widely||40.3*C||8.9*C|
|10/10/2014||1828hrs||11/10/2014||1856hrs||Greenhouse – Top Shelf – Flap fully open and draped over the roof||34.4*C||10.3*C|
|11/10/2014||1856hrs||12/10/2014||1750hrs||Greenhouse on SW side – Top Shelf – Flap fully open and draped over the roof||17.9*C||9.8*C|
The weather has certainly been quite mild with day temperatures in the last week hitting the unexpected heights of 17°C and my initial observations have shown that the greenhouse certainly is likely to prove too hot during the day for dormant carnivores if placed against the South Eastern facing wall. I have now placed the greenhouse against the more sheltered South Western facing wall where Piggy and Drake currently reside. This area will get much less sun meaning that the temperature in the greenhouse will hopefully remain lower. I am resigned to the fact that if I use the greenhouse then I may have to zip it up at night and then remember to unzip it in the morning before I go to work lest I wake my sleeping beauties.
I have also recently bought the book ‘The Savage Garden’ by Peter D’Amato which I must say has been a very enlightening read and certainly a good point of reference against which to compare all that wealth of contradictory information gleaned from the internet. Mr D’Amato states that mini-greenhouses like mine are suitable for carnivores but he doesn’t recommend them unless the user doesn’t mind rebuilding them every time there are high winds. The structure is indeed quite light although it currently sits in quite a sheltered position. The threat of high winds on Monday night will give me a chance to investigate how the greenhouse fares before I stick any plants in there!
The Basil Brothers
Growth certainly seems to have slowed at least in the bulking out department although that infernal Tall Basil seems not put off one iota and continues to grow upwards with gay abandon. The Guinness Book of Records states that the tallest Basil plant ever measured 3.34 m (10 ft 11.5 in) on 4 July 2012 and was grown in Ierapetra, Crete, Greece. Not sure Tall Basil will get that far but the time for taking cuttings would seem to be fast approaching if I wish to continue these fellas’ dynasty.
My previous Autumn/Winter advice for Pitch was as follows:
- Pitch will require a period of cold dormancy of between 2 or 3-4 months
- Dormancy will be triggered by shorter daylight hours and a drop in temperature below 10°C
- Pitch should survive overnight temperatures as low as -7°C but if the temperature falls below this then he may be harmed
- A combination of freezing temperatures and wind can also be harmful
- If the temperature drops below 0°C for more than a week then this can be harmful as well
All in all, it seems that Pitch can survive his dormancy outside unless temperatures drop below -7°C, there is a combination of wind and freezing temperatures or the temperature remains below 0°C for more than a week. If any of these situations occur then I should move Pitch to the greenhouse but can return him to his outside position once the cold spell has alleviated. In the greenhouse Pitch should be placed near a cold wall.
Now the night temperature has definitely dropped below 10°C this week but Pitch does not seem bothered and there is no indication at all that he is even considering dormancy. According to D’Amato the pitchers of Californian plants should have blackened and died by mid Winter so we will have to see. I reckon that the Winter in California is warmer than here. Wikipedia suggests that most places in California are akin to lowest Winter temperature here, although there are much colder spots but one must remember that California as a State is way way bigger than the UK.
I am going to do nothing until Pitch gives me a sign unless it gets real cold real fast.
My previous Winter Care Guide for Sunny was as follows:
My Winter care guide for Sunny is as follows:
- Sunny does not require a dormancy period
- Sunny should not really be exposed to an overnight temperature of less than 2°C
- Where Sunny is exposed to a shorter photoperiod and lower temperatures between 13-21°C she may be susceptible to root rot and fungus.
My experience and research indicates that no plant is happy with too acute a change in its environment. At the end of the current warm spell it will therefore be time to decide whether to bring Sunny inside over the Winter where she can be placed near/next to a South East facing window, or whether to leave her outside, putting her in the greenhouse should the overnight temperature be likely to drop below 2°C. The latter path seems too risky unless I keep her in the greenhouse all Winter where she may not receive as much light. It is probably better to transfer her to inside the kitchen.
Sunny is not showing any particular signs of decline but as the temperature is now dropping routinely into single figures over night I am planning to transfer her to the Greenhouse before moving her to the kitchen. D’Amato recommends that a Cape sundew will quite happily sit out the Winter next to a South Eastern facing window. Am going to have to do a bit of rejigging of the plants but think I can find a protected space next to said kitchen window. I do not want to move her inside without at least a couple of nights in the greenhouse lest such an abrupt change in environment causes her to go into shock, and I also need to sort out a cleaner vessel in which she can stand as she’ll be next to my clean crockery.
The dormancy guide for Drake was as follows:
- Drake will require a period of dormancy of 3-4 months (October – January)
- In the late Autumn Drake will die back and will form firm hibernacula
- A shorter photoperiod (8 hours or less) is required for hibernacula production
- Drake should be kept at approximately 0°C
- The soil must be kept moist but not sopping wet during Winter
- Watch out for fungal infection and use fungicide if necessary
As Drake should be kept at around 0°C he is probably best put into the Greenhouse over Winter. A little top down watering from time to time is recommended to keep the soil moist but not soggy. I must also regularly check that the hibernacula remain healthy but dormant and look out for signs of fungal infection.
There were some stubborn sundew leaves hanging around but these are now almost completely gone and hopefully Drake is now dormant (and not dead!!). I am now going to stop topping up his water tray and will only top down water until the Spring. Gonna leave him outside as D’Amato has filled me with confidence that one should try and mimic a carnivore’s indigenous environment for best results. Now, as I have already stated, Drake is indigenous to Britain, and is found in one habitat that I am directly familiar with, that being Dartmoor. Dartmoor in Winter is pretty cold, wet and windy so unless we hit a super cold spell I am going to keep Drake outside for as long as I can.
Piggy like his cousin Sunny does not seem too phased as yet by the single figure temperature Winter nights but whilst I still have no formal Winter care guide for this plant, my plan for him is much the same as that for Sunny. I will transfer him to the greenhouse for a couple of nights and then bring him inside with his cousin where he will sit out the Winter in the South East facing kitchen window. Hope he likes it.
Venus and Aphro
My VPT dormancy guide was as follows:
- VPTs entering dormancy have their summer traps die and turn black with new lower traps developing closer to the soil level
- Leaves may die back just leaving a very compact rosette at ground level
- Dormancy can last between 12-16+ weeks but 12-14 weeks is more typical
- Although VPTs can stand temperatures of -10°C, freezing can be very harmful
- Most of the hours of the day the temperature should remain between 4-13°C
- They can survive temperatures in the 21-30°C range during dormancy provided most of the hours of the day are on the cool side
- On especially frosty nights or extended cold spells the plants should be extended further cold protection
- Watering needs to be reduced during dormancy
- Keep the soil moist but considerably dry. Do not let the plant dry out completely
- Plants may only need watering ever 10-14 days or so depending on the average temperature
- Soil moisture content can be tested by poking a finger down into the soil to see how wet it still is under the surface. As a rule of thumb you should be able to stick your finger in the media and have it come out with only a few flecks of soil without needing to wipe any wetness off.
- Consideration should be given that overwatering can increase the risk of rotting or fungal/bacterial infection. The plant should not remain wet for too long
- Dead leaves should be removed to prevent fungal infection and to maximise light exposure to surviving winter leaves
- Unless the plant requires protection from the cold in which case leaves should be left as self-insulation
- Monitor fungal infection and use a fungicide as necessary (this should not be diluted with tap water)
Venus and Aphro can probably survive the UK Winter in the greenhouse but on exceptionally cold nights or during extended cold periods they should be given extra insulation or brought inside (suggestions include polystyrene or bubble wrap). I will need to work out a regimen for watering that I continue throughout the dormancy period. This is likely to last for between 12-14 weeks. Soil should be kept moist but dry and not be allowed to dry out completely. I will also have to monitor the weather forecast when deciding how often to remove dead leaves in case the plant requires some left for insulation. It will also be important to monitor both plants for root rot and bacterial/fungal infection.
The traps for both are still beginning to go black but there are still quite a few healthy traps yet so I am not yet going to reduce the watering for either plant. Considering all that I have read I am also going to leave both plants outside until it gets much colder. Indeed, unless the Winter is exceptionally cold I may not bring them in at all unless we have a prolonged period where it is close to freezing during the day.
Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)
It is probably fair to say that I am a bit narked with the rapid decline of the Sisters and am leaving them to their own devices. If they survive the Winter then I can only promise to take better care of them next year but they were purchased to be low-maintenance and have not really fulfilled their part of the bargain. Currently I am spending most of my time worrying more about the carnivores and any extra worrying time will be shared between Gronda, Hulk and Flapjack as I try to calculate their Winter watering regimes. Ladies, you are on your own!!
Gronda is looking more or less okay although perhaps a little more threadbare than he has previously. Interestingly, a great number of his leaves appear to be growing towards the window and the sun, on the right of the left picture above. He has now not been given a drain and soak since around September 10th or so, about a month ago. I have also not been misting him much and this seems to indicate that he does now definitely need much less watering over Winter and outside of his growing season. However, four of the leaves have curled up, with at least two almost completely rolled up and one that appears to have discoloured and is probably dying. I have used the moisture metre and Gronda’s soil is showing a score of just over one which seems to suggest that he’s pretty thirsty. I have therefore giving him a good misting and will try to remember to mist him a few times during the week. Not really sure if he will need a drain and soak after four Winter weeks but will have to see how he responds to some mistings this week and I will then reconsider next weekend.
To make room for the sundews, Hulk is going to have to relinquish his spot and I am currently considering where might be a good place to put him during the Winter. Surface spots are quite scarce in my compact and rather crowded kitchen (hence Flapjack never being found a more suitable spot since his arrival). The moisture meeting gives a score of less than one meaning the more blighter is pretty dry.
The Winter advice previously provided was as follows:
http://www.plantandflowerinfo.com/sansevieria/sansevieria.html states that, “During the winter months, water is restricted and the plants are watered only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. During this period, we let nighttime temperatures drop to 50° F (10°C). At temperatures lower than this, the leaves will take on a pinkish hue and will eventually drop.“
The bottom leaves are definitely shriveling and I have tonight misted the little fella and moved him to his new spot near Flapjack. Will continue to mist maybe once again this week but will consider a drain and soak next week as well.
Winter? Am I bovvered?
Definite signs of further droopage for little Flapjack. Didn’t bother to use the moisture metre, largely due to the tiny pot size and the evidence of my own eyes. Have misted this guy as well and may look to bring his Winter watering schedule in line with Hulk although reckon this chap may need slightly more water than his cacti companion. Will consider a drain and soak next week and will look to mist him a few times during the week.