Hargrave Triffid

A Photographic Record of Plant Growth


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They Came From Another Planet (Dendritic Reflective: Week 45)

Just a short bulletin this week and not a longer report to review progress after forty five weeks:

The weather is still pretty hot and it has been remarkably humid today for the first time this year. I am away from Thursday and temperatures are currently suggesting that it will be pretty hot during the day and not that cold at night although night temperatures will still be dropping below 10°C. This means that I will probably need to make allowances for extra water for the plants but it is probably still too cold to put Sunny and Piggy outside at the mercy of the elements. Will re-assess this on Wednesday before I go away.

Weather w-c 25-04-15 BBC Weather w-c 25-04-15 Weather Channel

The strange title of this blog refers to the alien looking structures that have appeared in the pots of Pitch and Aphro.

Pitch 25-04-15 (3) Pitch 25-04-15 Pitch 25-04-15 (2)

Still not sure what these are. They certainly don’t look like new pitchers. They look more like seed pods of some kind or flower buds. According to Wikipedia, that well-known repository of unquestionable information, Sarracenia rubra does indeed produce flowers in Spring so this is rather exciting. Cannot wait to see what happens.

Aphro 25-04-15 Aphro 25-04-15 (3) Aphro 25-04-15 (2)

The pictures above show what is definitely looking like another flower stalk in Aphro’s pot. This time I have finally been able to sever this stalk early.

Aphro 25-04-15 (4) Aphro 25-04-15 (5)

Hopefully this will mean that Aphro’s growth will not take a downturn due to energy being diverted into flower production.

 

Elsewhere around the pots both the mint and Sunny are also showing excellent Spring progress.

Mint 25-04-15 Drake 25-04-15

 

I have today watered Gronda (who was looking a bit droopy but perked up as soon as he was watered) and have also given Hulk and Flapjack a wee drink although have not yet got around to purchasing the items on my list:

Gronda
Spray water thingy

Hulk

Saucer

Flapjack
Saucer
Container: either well draining container, at least 5″ inches deep or a 3-inch pot [preferable]
Soil: A sandy rooting mix or a potting mixture formulated specifically for cactus and succulents

 

This will have to wait until I return from holidays.

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Green Shoots and Stalks

As the weather promised, it has been very sunny this week and pretty hot with day temperatures in the mid to high teens. Considering the fact that I am going away next week for about 5 days I may have to consider some remedial watering assistance. Having topped up the water levels of Pitch and the two VFTs on Sunday afternoon, I can report that today, a mere two days later, Pitch’s tray was almost dry and Venus’s under half full. Aphro’s was about three quarters full. If the weather keeps up then the plants will not last 5 days with the existing watering arrangements.

 

Venus 21-04-15

Some better pictures of the new growth occurring in the VFT pots. A few new traps growing here in Venus’s pot and they look much taller than the existing Winter traps.

 

Aphro 21-04-15 Aphro 21-04-15 (2)

One of the front traps has begun to blacken but there are numerous new traps growing in Aphro’s pot. The left picture also appears to show what looks like a new flower stalk. Will look to snip this very soonish as soon as I am absolutely sure that it is a stalk.


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Wakey Wakey (Dendritic Reflective: Week 44)

The bluebells in the back garden are out and Spring is definitely here, if not Summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 25°C in the last week. It has been consistently warm in the last fortnight and warm temperatures beckon for the following week.

Weather w-c 18-04-15 BBC

Weather w-c 18-04-15 Weather Channel

This warm weather has meant that I have had to keep on top of watering the triffids, who I can happily report all appear to be waking after their Winter slumbers and are back on a Summer watering programme. Indeed, evaporation is quite an issue with the temperature on the South East facing External Kitchen Window sill reaching 40°C. It is no wonder that the poor mint was getting scorched here last year and this is something that I will have to watch moving forward, although I guess that it has always been so, but my external thermometer on the external face of the kitchen window now confirms my actual knowledge of this fact.

 

Here is my review of progress after 44 weeks:

 

The Basil Brothers

Basil 18-04-15

Very little to report here. Tall basil is trying to flower again, which seems to have been a fairly constant feature whilst the brothers have been under my tenure. Probably a few more leaves have grown during the last fortnight so perhaps there may still be hope of them aiding my culinary machinations. Cuttings beckon, and I may even hack the brothers at their main stalks but not yet.

 

Pitch

Pitch 18-04-15 Pitch 18-04-15 (2) Pitch 18-04-15 (3) Pitch 18-04-15 (4) Pitch 18-04-15 (5)

Pitch has always been one of my favourites. He has caused me few problems or worries, even when I have been derelict in my duty of care. Hardy and resilient, and also rather magnificent, he has furthermore continued to surprise me at every turn. Whether or not he has gone into dormancy I do not know, although the older pitchers have definitely died back leaving the smaller, younger pitchers closer to the base of the plant which to me, if not backed up by the literature for pitcher plants, does at least suggest some sort of dormancy response – this is after all how VFTs behave when winter temperatures start to bite. However, whilst having a close up look at Pitch’s pot today I made a discovery that I was not expecting, which I can only describe as red balls on red stalks. I am at a loss to explain what these may be, and am struggling to describe them to my internet search engine. If they are new pitchers then I do not remember similar development before, I was not aware that Pitcher plants produced flowers or seed pods but well prepared to be mistaken. There are about 5 of these structures dotted around the base of the crown evenly spread around the base of the plant. Wikipedia announces that, “This species is characterised by producing quite floppy pitchers in spring with large wings, perhaps as a method of producing a large surface area of tissue in order to rapidly photosynthesise at the start of the year. Later on in summer and autumn, much more substantial pitchers are produced.” Are these spring growth pitchers, different to those produced later in the year?

I plan to carry out more research to see whether I can identify these new and mysterious growths.

 

Will also have to watch the scorch factor as Pitch suffered from this last year. [See: https://hargravetriffid.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/mint-moves-and-munching-beware-the-scorching/ ]

 

Sunny

Sunny 18-04-15 Sunny 18-04-15 (2) Sunny 18-04-15 (3)

It is always a pleasure to be able to report to these pages that I have not killed any plants. Things were a bit touch and go with Sunny but I can now happily report the presence of a good spread of new growth in her pot. Whilst not all of the green seen in the pictures above is revealed to be new sundews, some being moss or other plant intruders, there are certainly multiple bases of separate growth rather than growth from a single plant base as I feared last time.

It is worth pointing out that Sunny did not have particularly dense foliage when I acquired her back in June 2014 (now only about 8 weeks away), so perhaps despite forgoing dormancy, these plants do actually die back at this time of year and then pick up growth towards late Summer and Autumn. Last year it was not really until August that she really got going. It will be interesting to compare her progress at the year mark.

With the external temperature at the kitchen window reaching 40°C at points it must be near greenhouse conditions in Sunny’s position for a good deal of the day which will hopefully agree with her African heritage. I do not recall scorching being a problem for Sunny last year (although it did affect Piggy) but I will keep half an eye on how she does behind glass, seeing as she spent most of last year outdoors. By next month or sooner it will surely be time to move her back outdoors.

 

Drake

Drake 18-04-15 Drake 18-04-15 (2)

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to look into this pot and see all those new little sun dews growing. I guess I can now officially say that Drake definitely went into dormancy but has now begun to come out. Almost back from the grave, considering that his decline began following Dry Thursday as early as August 2014. That was when he began a decline that led him into dormancy and caused me so much worry. Now it looks like he will happily rise again.

Perhaps I should consider a move from the relative shade of the South West facing External Kitchen Windowsill to the South East facing External Kitchen Windowsill, although as Drake appears to be developing so well I am lithe to move him just yet. I may wait until the new growth matures.

 

 

Piggy

Piggy 18-04-15 Piggy 18-04-15 (2)

It is always difficult to judge how well Piggy is doing particularly as knowing that he is on borrowed time, due to the plants unsuitability for UK conditions, always places my concerns within the context of terminality. Only one growth remains where before there were five or six. There was a definite decline somewhere before October where this five or six reduced to three or four growths as the temperatures dropped to single figures. In November by which time Piggy had been brought inside, those growths were definitely down to three and whilst the two growths that still survive today seems to have flourished between November and February the other then remaining growth declined over this time span dying somewhere between February and March.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Marcel Lecoufle’s book, Carnivorous Plants: Care and Cultivation, states that pygmy sundews prefer shade or half-shade rather than the full sunlight preferred by other carnivores. Despite the fact that I tucked Piggy into the corner to at least afford him some protection, as the days get longer and the sun shines more frequently, his greenhouse-like position and 40°C temperature at the other end of the external windowsill may mean that his current location is no longer suitable. If by next month or sooner I am predicting a move for Sunny back outdoors then the same must also be considered for Piggy. The balance here is whether such a move should be brought forward in comparison of whether sun-scorching or external low temperature poses the biggest risk to his survival going forward.

 

 

Venus

Venus 18-04-15 Venus 18-04-15 (2) Venus 18-04-15 (3)

It is quite difficult to tell what is happening in Venus’s pot. Although it is difficult to show in the then and now pictures from a fortnight ago I am convinced that there are some new traps growing in there. What I also missed was that the tallest trap closed between the 8th and 15th of March, and have only noticed this week when it has reopened revealing a digested fly. Nice to see that Venus is still a capable carnivore despite sparse appearances. I am hopeful that the new traps will develop over the next month or so but Venus’s growth has always been very slow so it may prove longer than that.

 

Aphro

Aphro 18-04-15 Aphro 18-04-15 (2) Aphro 18-04-15 (3) Aphro 18-04-15 (4)

The growth of new traps is much more apparent with Aphro who has always been the stronger of the two plants. However, whilst there is new growth, it is clear that some of the winter traps have now blackened and died back leaving the plant in a rather sorry looking state compared with a fortnight ago. I hope that this is a temporary blip although one wonders what effect the production of the flower stalk will have had on Aphro. It is such a shame that I did not remove it sooner, especially when one sees the effect that the growth of this stalk had on Venus. She was never quite the same again. I hope that Aphro is not destined for a similar path.

 

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 18-04-15 Mint 18-04-15 (2)

Real signs of continuing growth with these ladies. I will be giving them a wee water tonight to help them along the way. With the warm temperatures and strong sun at the moment and not much rain focused over the next week, I will try and water them every night. There are holes in the bottom of the pot which will ensure that they do not become over-watered. So much for April showers! Nature needs a gentle hand here though will have to watch that I do not overdo it.

 

 

Gronda

Gronda 18-04-15 Gronda 18-04-15 (2) Gronda 18-04-15 (3)

Gronda does not look great in these photos compared with a month ago although he looks a lot better than he did a fortnight ago. I have taken to watering him quite regularly at the base of each set of stalks and this visibly perks him up so must surely be a good measure for when he requires water. The water comes from a watering can, filled and left in the kitchen to allow it to come to room temperature. The curling in the leaves in these photos show that he is still not getting enough water. The advice was always not to overwater this plant lest the roots would rot but I must balance this against the position he occupies so near to the kitchen window where that 40°C temperature is not so far away. If greenhouse conditions are being created here then I better water him properly little and often rather than merely misting his leaves (although I have not now done this for some time as my sprayer is bust!).

Much more habitual discipline required with this plant. He looks wonderful when in his full splendour and so wretched when he is drooping and withering.

 

 

Hulk

Hulk 18-04-15

Hulk is another woefully neglected plant and I have never really managed to get his watering regime right, or been able to stick to it. He has lost a few more spines and soon he will be as bald as Duncan Goodhew. More discipline again required with this plant.

I must again remind myself of the advice given at http://www.plantandflowerinfo.com/sansevieria/sansevieria.html :

“Needs full sun to light shade, with a well drained soil mix (e.g 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam and sand) adding small gravel to ensure good drainage. This cactus likes a little more water than other cacti. Plants are regularly watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Regular watering helps to keep the leaves from dropping. …

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.

http://cactiguide.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8007 says that, “the leaves on Austrocylindropuntia ALWAYS fall off with age. So this is totally normal. The new growth will have new leaves for a while and eventually they will fall off.” This site then goes on to recommend the following:

1. You need a pot with good drainage holes in it. [A saucer underneath is also recommended.] Good drainage is essential for the health of your cacti.

2. [Be careful that the soil is not too ‘heavy’ for this plant.] While this species is very forgiving, for best results, cut the mix about 50:50 at least with pummice or perlite.

3. More light! The top segments should be just as thick as the bottom one that they are comming out of. The color should be a lighter green, but not yellow-green. These guys will take full sun all day and love it. So get it as much light as possible.” [sic]

My plant is looking a much darker green than the plant about which the above is talking which therefore suggests that Hulk is not getting enough light. Originally, Hulk was on the kitchen windowsill in the spot currently occupied by Piggy when he and Sunny came in for the Winter. As soon as those guys move back outside I am going to have to reintroduce Hulk to his former spot.

http://www.cactiguide.com/growcacti/ suggests that a normal cactus should be watered, “about once a week. This is a good rule of thumb, but there are exceptions. During extended hot, dry periods I may water twice in one week. Conversely, when it is cool and rainy I might switch to every other week.

Given the original advice that Austrocylindropuntia Subulata ‘likes a little more water than  other cacti’ and the fact that the leaves have been consistently dropping off, it is blatantly obvious that I am not watering him enough. I will get him a saucer and try to water him once a week. Whilst less water was required in Winter, Hulk is housebound but I will have to consider this later in the year when Piggy and Sunny again come in from the cold.

 

Snake

Snake 18-04-15

Snake is beginning to develop a lean although this may just be because the pot has been rotated. So difficult to tell with this plant. When I do my annual comparison I will attempt to line him up as best I can. Other than that, there is no significant decline from a fortnight ago and I am left wondering whether his brown fraying has been there since his purchase.

 

Flapjack

Flapjack 18-04-15 Flapjack 18-04-15 (2) Flapjack 18-04-15 (3)

Poor old Flapjack. He was always the runt of the litter but his top two leaves have now come away at the stem leaving only one rather tatty leaf still connected. Uh oh. Am not sure whether this was caused by neglect or a feline intervention but it matters not, the poor little fella is in a right old state. I am going to try and re-plant the head and am going to once and for all sort out his watering requirements.

” ‘Water when dry’ is a good rule of thumb,” according to http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/1784328/i-dont-think-this-is-normal-for-a-kalanchoe-luciae Not particularly helpful, although this article does suggest that watering once a week is too much.

Happily I have found the following instructions for care of this plant in the UK at http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_5686442_care-kalanchoe-flapjack.html :

Instructions

1. Plant or place the kalanchoe in full sun. The kalanchoe can tolerate some shade, but the distinctive colour bands at the edges of the leaves only develop when the plant is given adequate light. The more sun the plant gets, the brighter the colour will be.2. Water the plant when the potting medium or surrounding soil is dry to the touch. Use tepid water since the kalanchoe is sensitive to cold temperatures. As a member of the cactus family, the kalanchoe is designed to conserve water. Overwatering discourages the growth and development of the plant. In winter, watering should be reduced to once every six weeks to mimic the natural conditions under which the kalanchoe thrives.3. Keep the plant warm. Take care not to place indoor pots near draughty areas during the winter. Protect outdoor plants during cold snaps by covering the foliage with a warm blanket overnight for added insulation.

4. Spritz the leaves of the plant with water during the warmer months. Place indoor plants outside so they can benefit from fresh air and sunshine.

5. Add a water-soluble fertiliser once every two weeks from March through August to achieve optimal plant growth. Be sure to dilute the solution by using twice as much water as the directions indicate. The kalanchoe has shallow roots. Using full-strength fertiliser chemically burns them.

6. Wait for the plant to bloom. Each flower will produce a number of seeds that can be easily collected. After blooming, the plant will slowly die, and the seeds can be used for propagation. Alternatively, root or stem cuttings can also be used.

 

Food for thought indeed. Need a saucer for this little fella as well and need to work out how to propagate the stem cutting that I have unfortunately been left with.

http://edenmakersblog.com/?p=1363#sthash.SbLK041K.dpbs suggests the following:

Succulents like Kalanchoe should be planted in a well draining container, at least 5″ inches deep.

A sandy rooting mix is best- you can buy it or use 3 parts sand to 1 part loam.

Moisten the soil, but don’t saturate it with water.

 

Water consistently, but moderately and you should have new plants in about 8 to 10 weeks!

You can check to see if your plants are ready for transplanting by giving them a light tug.

If you feel a slight resistance, roots have  formed.

 

Alternatively, http://www.gardenguides.com/88222-propagate-kalanchoe-thyrsiflora.html offers this advice, although not sure I fancy using growth hormones and the like:

“Step 1

Cut a 4- to 6-inch stem from a healthy kalanchoe thyrsiflora with a clean, sharp knife. Pinch off the lower set of leaves, leaving a 2 to 3-inch length of stem.

Step 2

Set the cutting aside for a day or two, which should be enough time for the cutting to develop a callus on the cut end. This is necessary to prevent the kalanchoe thyrsiflora from rotting once its planted. Rot is the primary cause of death of all succulents.

Step 3

Fill a 3-inch pot with potting mixture formulated specifically for cactus and succulents. Be sure the pot has a hole in the bottom so the potting mix can drain. Moisten the potting mix with a spray bottle so that it’s damp, but not soaking wet.

Step 4

Dip the cut end of the kalanchoe thyrsiflora cutting in rooting hormone, and plant the cutting with the leaves just above the soil. Put the cutting in a warm room,, and be sure the cutting is in bright light, but avoid putting it directly in a window, or in hot afternoon sun. The kalanchoe thyrsiflora should root within three weeks, depending on the warmth of the room.

Step 5

Water the kalanchoe thyrsiflora lightly when the top two inches of the potting mixture are dry to the touch. Don’t be tempted to water sooner, because too much water will cause the kalanchoe thyrsiflora to rot.

Step 6

Feed the kalanchoe thyrisflora with a general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Mix the fertilizer according to the package directions. Don’t fertilize the kalanchoe thyrisflora during fall and winter.

 

Certainly need to get some sandy rooting mix or some potting mixture formulated specifically for cactus and succulents and go from there. Hopefully my local gardening centre or DIY store will sell a plant specific variety Cactus and Succulent Mix.


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Spring Watch (Dendritic Reflective: Week 42)

Unfortunately dad did not make it and I was back at home with my mum for three weeks. I have also been back every other weekend. Care for the plants has thus taken something of a drop in my priorities and my care for them during this period has not been the greatest.

The following documents the photographic log of the plants progress over the last 2 months along with some of the care (and lack thereof) that they have received. At this point my summary would be Dendritic Reflective Week 42.

Although the weather is still cold in places and the chances of an overnight frost have not yet fully passed, overall temperatures are up, the daffodils and primroses are flowering and Spring is visibly in the air.

 

The Basil Brothers

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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The Brothers are still going although they are looking slightly devoid of leaves these days. My girlfriend took rather too many from each stalk in her quest for la buona cucina. I have found that when picking leaves, one must always leave a few on each stalk. Where one leaf is picked then more will grow, often at twice the rate. If all leaves are taken from a stalk then that stalk will die and no more leaves will grow. This is why Tall Basil had turned into something of a tree. Unfortunately, now Small Basil has joined him and both plants are far too tall too keep where they remain in the kitchen. This Summer I will definitely be taking some cuttings and trying to grow new plants from these. The Brothers current will be retired to the Greenhouse which so far has required no use at all. In the meantime, the plants remain but are of little use for aiding one’s culinary desire as any further removal of the meagre number of leaves than remain would surely finish both plants off for good.

 

 

Pitch

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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I must report that Pitch has probably dried out more than once in the last two months. As April approaches it is now time for him to wake up from dormancy although I am not actually convinced that he ever actually became dormant. Although the majority of the taller pitchers from last year have now begun to brown and die, I can happily report that the newer pitchers that developed in late August and September still remain and look extremely healthy. There general advice that I have read in the written and on-line literature tends to suggest that the dead pitchers should not be removed but I will see whether Pitch now springs into life and grows some new leaves or whether the current situation remains. It is ten weeks to go until I have had Pitch for an entire year which will allow a comparison of how he looked twelve months ago at the same time last year. I am pleased to say that a little neglect has not yet seen him meet his end and whilst not flourishing, he still appears mostly healthy.

 

 

Sunny

19/02/15

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08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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I have been away multiple times during the last two months, at one point for three weeks which was also somewhat of an emergency leave of absence which did not commence from my home and thus did not allow me to fully prepare my plants for such a time away. Our cat, who did require some level of sustained care thus had to be provided for and those who provided this care were also asked to water Sunny and Piggy with rainwater from outside only. Despite these requests it is highly likely that both have gone dry at least once, and on further occasions the water level in their trays has dropped well below the half an inch minimum generally required as an absolute must. Of all of my carnivores and indeed all the plants contained within these pages, it is Sunny here who has suffered the most and currently I fear for her survival. I have been diligent in keeping the levels topped up since my return but when I am away both plants must contend with the competition for resources created by the cats preference for the rain water provided for these plants rather than the tap water filling her bowl near her food.

In the pot it appears that only one plant base currently remains. I must remind the reader that this plant was not supposed to go into dormancy, it being from a South African heritage and not the more temperate climate found in Blighty. Therefore this plant was brought into the kitchen for the relative warmth of a centrally heated Winter period. This trade off was against the lack of sun which the plant has been getting during the Winter months and I pray that this is a contributory factor to her decline that could be improved now the days are lengthening. As it is now April, and Easter is upon us, I am hopeful that there will now be no overnight frost (Winter never actually producing one this year, temperatures dropping overnight only to about 1°C at their lowest). My plan is therefore to move Sunny back outside to a spot where she can obtain maximum sunlight. The only concern is those overnight temperatures which may still be too low for an African plant.

Weather w-c 04-04-15 BBC

Weather w-c 04-04-15 Weather Channel

There is a slight disagreement with overnight temperatures in the two forecasts listed above. 3°C overnight is probably too cold to put the plants outside but 6 or 7°C is probably okay if the temperature will not go any lower than this. I will have to monitor the temperature myself and take some readings. In the meantime, fingers crossed that Sunny hangs in there.

 

 

Drake

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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Despite my fretting that Drake had gone to meet his maker as a result of Dry Thursday, where he was left with no water in his tray for a number of days, it is now apparent that Drake is the only carnivore to actually properly go into dormancy. As previously surmised by myself, I believe that this may be due to the fact that Drake is indigenous to this country and thus best suited and in most perfect equilibrium with the external weather conditions. As stated, I was extremely worried that I had killed this plant but there are many many signs of new shoots in the pot, as can be seen in the pictures above if one zooms in. These shoots do look like green hibernacula and thus I am convinced that they are not moss or anything else that may have taken root in this pot over Winter but are genuine bona fide new sundew shoots. I will continue to monitor and will produce some better photographs when they begin to properly develop.

 

 

Piggy

19/02/15

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08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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The same issues affecting Sunny have also affected Piggy. It is highly likely that Piggy’s tray has dried out multiple times within the last two months. However, considering the decline in Sunny, Piggy is remarkably unscathed and there has even been some minute growth on top. Now the position Piggy frequents beside the window is a little sun trap and he is best sheltered from the icy cold blasts emanating from the opening back door, so perhaps this may be why he has survived the same hardships so well.

Whilst instinct dictates that Sunny should be moved outside as soon as possible I am of the opinion that Piggy is probably best left where he is. If I could just stop that cat drinking the water from his tray!

 

 

Venus

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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In February I was hedging my bets that Venus was actually in dormancy whilst not really knowing this to be so. The literature I have read suggested that a dormant VFT would be characterised by the larger traps dying back – Check (mostly); by smaller traps growing in there place – Check; and, by those new traps being closer to the ground than the traps seen during normal growth – Check! With these conditions present I am happy to accept that this plant has been lying dormant and has survived the Winter. Hopefully Spring will now bring an improved period of growth.

The water in Venus’s tray has also dried out on several occasions during the last two months, BUT, I am reminded of the pre-Winter VPT dormancy advice which stated that soil should be kept moist but considerably dry, although the plant should not be allowed to dry out completely, and that plants may only need to be watered every 10-14 days or so depending on the average temperature. I am hopeful that Venus has not dried out completely and thus the lack of watering may have actually aided her dormancy. Fungal infection is still a possibility considering that I did not really reduce watering over the Winter period because I was not really sure whether the plant had entered dormancy and did not wish to force it into dormancy through lack of watering. Also, I did not removed the dead leaves, preferring that these should provide insulation over Winter with the plants being left outside in what I thought could prove freezing overnight temperatures. Near freezing transpired only, but at least any over-watering was not compounded by its turning to ice.

Now I must wait and see whether new growth will commence. VPT dormancy guides suggest that dormancy will typically last between 12 and 14 weeks, or sometimes 12 to 16+. Looking back through my records with the hindsight that I now have, it seems reasonable to assume that the plant began going into dormancy round about the end of November/beginning of December which is about 17 weeks ago so the plant should definitely be waking up about now.

As an addendum, I must also mention the presence of the squatter sundew which appears to have worried little about Winter. Still not sure whether this is Drosera spatulata or Drosera rotundifolia although am currently edging towards the latter. There are at least three separate plants within the pot and these probably need transplanting before Venus begins to grow, or would it be easier to transplant Venus into another pot and leave them to it. The literature called this type of plant the weed of all carnivores and it is definitely looking pretty hardy. Don’t particularly want to take risks with Venus though until I am certain that she’s alright so perhaps I may leave it for another year. Just hope that this ‘weed’ does not take over the rather small pot.

 

 

Aphro

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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Whilst Aphro’s traps continue to be highly impressive, his exhibited behaviour has never at any point over Winter suggested a VPT in, or even entering, dormancy. Why should Aphro act so differently to Venus? Perhaps inherent in the answer is the major difference between the two plants that being the ‘flower stalk’ situation.

When Venus grew a flower stalk last Summer I let it develop and flower before discovering that most advice recommended removing these stalks as soon as they developed on the basis that the amount of energy used by the plant in producing the stalk and flower, permanently affected the quality and quantity of the plants traps in the future. In short, the plant was never the same again after flowering and the flower itself was unremarkable and only of any practical use to those wishing to collect the seeds to propagate new plants, something which I currently have little interest in doing. It is true to say that Venus was never the same plant once she had flowered and after flowering she began the slow descent into deformation and dormancy.

Now, imagine my surprise upon returning home to discover that in the three weeks I had been away, Aphro had managed to fully grow a flower stalk. I had not noticed any suggestion of the stalk before and it is only now when I look back at the pictures from 1st February of my last posting that I see the top of the stalk in amongst the traps. Now I have been away quite a lot in March and did not get around to removing this stalk until 31st March, the pictures below recording the before and after of this event. Now I am able to observe any differing behaviour between a VPT that has flowered and one that has not been permitted to.

Aphro has certainly grown smaller traps that are closer to the ground as a dormant VPT should, he has just not shown any signs that the majority of his larger traps are going to die back. Whether this plant has entered dormancy or not may soon become clear and as with Venus I impatiently await any signs of new growth.

 

 

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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Spring smiles or false hope is the game here. This pot has become something of a cat and fox toilet over the Winter and with the diseased state that the mint died back in the late Autumn it was touch and go whether any new and healthy mint would return in the Spring. A very close of the examination of the picture of the 8th March above seems to show the new growth of several mint plants, or they sure look like mint plants. Although I do not have any photographs of the pot towards the end of the month, I did look in the pot and can remember being disappointed that all signs of mint life had disappeared and there were a number of foreign objects beginning to grow in their stead. I am in Devon as I write this and so cannot go outside and check the situation but will document what is occurring as soon I can. Haven’t a good feeling about the mint though. I never did get that cup of mint tea last year and it’s beginning to look further and further away. A miracle required!

 

 

Gronda

08/03/15

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31/03/15

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After Sunny, Gronda is the plant that has most missed regular care and attention and this plant is quite the attention seeker. I am happy enough that he is still going but he is certainly in quite a shocking state even compared to how he was at the beginning of February. He is not getting enough water and I need to quickly get into a new habit of regular watering before he loses any more leaves. Once he looked truly magnificent and now he just looks sparse and miserable. The only positive in this situation is that he has lasted longer than the previous calathea who eventually died. I love this plant and do not want to see it go the same way but it requires hell of a lot of time and responsibility, something I am currently struggling to provide. There must be a happy medium of habit.

 

Hulk

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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Despite Hulk’s shedding over Winter he has at least got no worse since February. My thoughts again return to a need to quickly get into a watering habit with this plant before he sheds even more spines.

 

 

Snake

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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Imagine my horror the other day when even the ever reliable Snake had developed brown fraying to the end of some of his leaves. Now I do remember this plant being in a fairly dismal state when we actually purchased him but God forbid that even this most hardy of triffids has also succumbed to a bout of sickness. Elsewhere there is evidence of new growth, or am I imagining it with Snake. Difficult to tell if there is slow movement or if it is just the complete lack of movement that tricks one’s mind into creating movement that isn’t there. Will be carrying out a more extensive examination and comparison upon my return.

 

 

Flapjack

08/03/15

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15/03/15

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31/03/15

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Flapjack was always the runt of the litter to me. An extra chosen by others for which I knew there was no place, there being no other suitable locations for a houseplant with even average needs. Flapjack really has suffered over the Winter although more through neglect than active design. The photo from 8th March shows him looking pretty wretched. Then my girlfriend has rather cheekily elevated him to the previously mentioned sun trap near the kitchen window and it must be said that he has dramatically improved over the last three weeks. If Sunny moves outside then perhaps there will be a place for Flapjack here by the window although preference will always be given to carnivores. I seem to remember that the last time Sunny’s competitive streak was challenged, with the introduction of Drake, she responded magnificently with menace. Perhaps Flapjacks supplanting of Sunny’s sunny position may ultimately benefit both plants. We can only hope so.