Here is my review of progress after twenty weeks:
Considering that it is the first day of November a glance at my external thermometer this morning reveals it to be 25°C, not exactly normal November weather. I have not been quite so fastidious recently with my temperature monitoring but it has been more of the same mild weather with night temperatures going no lower than 8°C. However, I always knew that as November approached it would be time to pay a keener interest and low and behold after breaking Halloween temperature records yesterday night there are now threats of ground frost for the coming week.
The Weather channel forecast, which during monitoring has seemed to be the more accurate, even threatens a night low of 4°C on Tuesday night so now the serious monitoring must start.
Despite my lack of blogging in recent weeks I have actually been quite busy with the plants and consequently there are two sets of pictures below to show and quite a lot to report.
The Basil Brothers
Have made Italian food once in the last month so the brothers’ services have been in demand. Small basil has looked a little thirsty at points but as normal, once given a drink he perks up no end. Tall basil appears to be flowering. Not quite sure what to make of this!
Pitch looks much the same as he has in recent weeks. Although my previous dormancy advice stated that, “Dormancy will be triggered by shorter daylight hours and a drop in temperature below 10°C,” it is disputable how often the temperature has dropped below 10°C in October. No sign as yet that Pitch is entering dormancy in any proper manner. I cleaned the saucer pot that Pitch stands in removing all algae and replacing the water with nice clean rainwater based on the advice given about risks of root rot and fungal infections.
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
If the frost makes an appearance this week then perhaps Pitch will start to go to sleep.
Sunny & Piggy
Piggy, and particularly, Sunny are absolutely thriving since coming inside into the warm over Winter. I like a warm house and my heating is often on if it gets cold when I’m in. Like Pitch these two both had their trays cleaned of algae but in this case they were completely replaced as they were too mucky to keep. The changed water in Sunny’s tray has gone a rather murky browny/green so this may need keeping an eye on but other that that the plants are absolutely thriving.
Cleaned Drake’s tray as well to keep it algae free and protect the sleeper from infection. The water has finally gone as well so now the tray is bone dry. Am keeping an eye on the soil and it is still actually pretty soggy so will let it dry more before I re-water from the top down.
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.
Nearly all of Venus’s traps have died back but there still remains a tall trap contrary to the advice given that these traps would die back leaving only traps close to the soil floor. It does appear that Venus is heading towards dormancy but there still seems to be life in her yet. Cleaned Venus’s tray of algae to protect her from infection.
Aphro’s tray was replaced meaning that he now has a clean algae-free tray and nice clean rain water. Although Aphro has definitely thinned out a little since Summer he does not appear to be aware that he’s supposed to be going to sleep soon.
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.
It seems to still be a bit too hot for Aphro to drop off. Although the temperature has dropped to 8°C it does not appear to have been consistently cold enough. As temperatures drop this week one hopes that the plant will begin to get the message.
Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)
Still a few leaves knocking around but Cass and Aggy have definitely shut down for the Winter. Had to do quite a bit of weeding though as the surrounding plants and some other unwanted visitors had taken root.
Have been spraying Gronda’s leaves about three times a week but he looks less than impressed with the onset of Winter although this may be because my use of house heating leaves the air warmer and less humid that Gronda has been experiencing in the Summer. Today I gave Gronda a drain and soak and I will continue to mist him as frequently as I may, or remember!
Hulk & Flapjack
These two were also given a drain and soak today. Both don’t look massively happy but hopefully a bit of water will cheer them up.
Acting as plastic as his pot, Snake stumbles on through life unphased and unbothered by any external stimuli. A lesson for us all.