Hargrave Triffid

A Photographic Record of Plant Growth

Leave a comment

Alien Invaders (Dendritic Reflective: Week 50)

A fair bit to talk about this week. It looks like fairly wet weather scheduled for next week but mercifully the temperatures will remain fairly mild with the coldest overnight temperature threatened as 7 or 8°C. As this is only for the one night with overnight temperatures otherwise remaining around 10-11°C I am not really that worried. What is more concerning is the lack of sun but I guess this cannot be helped, am sure it will put in an appearance at some point.

Here is my review of progress after fifty weeks:


The Basil Brothers

Basil 30-05-15 Basil 30-05-15 (2) Basil 30-05-15 (3)

The brothers look pretty healthy and the new leaves are continuing to develop. There is still some quite serious death coloured dis-colouration on the left most stalks and I have not watered either of the two original brothers this week. I did however water the newest basil plant introduced by my girlfriend as this was looking a bit thirsty but perked up considerably, returning to a healthy normality once I had provided a good drink. Still at a bit of a loss to consider why the older plants are just not producing many leaves but perhaps this is just something that happens when the plants get too tall. My cuttings plan is still very much a goer.




Pitch 30-05-15 Pitch 30-05-15 (2) Pitch 30-05-15 (3)

Pitch is still largely in a state of flux and I continue to patiently wait. The new growth is still developing but it seems to be taking an age to mature. Carnivorous plants featured recently at the Chelsea flower show http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05wj79j/rhs-chelsea-flower-show-2015-episode-13 starting at 19:43. It is notable that the pitcher plants on show at the carnivorous garden display at Chelsea are all already fully in bloom. My neighbour went to the live and event and actually spoke to the chap running the garden. He told her that he removes the dead foliage from his Pitcher plants. Am really wondering if I should remove the old Pitchers. My current plan is to remove any dead bits as they die and discolour, based on the fact that the plant is probably still drawing nutrients from the beasties being digested within the parts of the pitchers that are still alive. It must be hungry work producing all those flower buds.

Speaking of the flower buds – the middle picture above seems to indicate that this one at least may be about to open. Excited, impatient and slightly worried all at the same time.




Luke 30-05-15 Luke 30-05-15 (2) Luke 30-05-15 (3)

If Pitch is slower than an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping, to quote Blackadder, then he is still developing faster than Luke. I am beginning to wonder if I will be able to gaze at beautiful leucophylla white pitchers by the end of the year, let alone Summer.

http://www.carnivorousplants.org/howto/GrowingGuides/S_leucophylla.php has the following to say regarding their care: “Sarracenia leucophylla is found in wet savannahs in the southeast USA, from northeastern Florida to eastern Mississippi. S. leucophylla pitchers are green with the top quarter being white with red or green veins. Pitchers produced in the spring are narrower and not as white as pitchers produced in the fall. Under extremely warm conditions, this species may produce phyllodia (pitcherless leaves) in the middle of the summer. The flowers are deep red.

Adult plants enjoy full sun outdoors. They require seasons in order to survive long term. Typical summer temperatures where they grow naturally are in the mid 30’s C (90’s F). Winter temperatures can be below freezing at times. In captivity they do survive being frozen solid but this species is more susceptible to freeze damage than the more northern species.

It seems that the Spring pitchers will develop slowly and will not mature into proper white pitchers. Like Pitch, it appears that Luke will also show his best growth during the Autumn and I may have to wait a very long time. The only currently growing new pitcher as seen in the middle image, is growing slowly but surely but there are no signs of any other growth.

‘The weed’ present in this pot mercifully appears to be behaving itself, relative to its nearby relatives, as will be seen later in this piece.

The other event of note, as seen in the last picture, is that I have also swapped Luke’s position with that of Sunny, largely because Sunny, unlike her name demonstrates looks like she may require a bit more shade. The spot that Luke was occupying is rather in the shadow of Pitch, who is a pretty bulky fella. The new position will hopefully give Luke a lot more sunshine, which according to the advice above may well suit him, and maybe, will even speed his development – I want this plant to have at least one active pitcher.




Sunny 30-05-15 Sunny 30-05-15 (2) Sunny 30-05-15 (3) Sunny 30-05-15 (4)

Despite it not being particularly sunny this week, Sunny appears to be struggling. As the pictures above show there are now very few sundew leaves remaining as another 3 or 4 have now browned and died and the very small new growth appears to also be browning in a manner that does not look healthy. However, all is not yet lost. Not only has the best surviving sundew leaf caught a fly which it is currently bust devouring but as the pictures above show, there is some very strong new growth near to this remaining healthy sundew leaf. This new leaf was not apparent last week which demonstrates that there is life left in this plant yet.

As mentioned above, I have swapped Sunny’s position with Luke meaning that now Sunny is next to Pitch and will be afforded slightly more shade over the course of the day. What worries me is that nearly every website I have looked at for advice on care suggests that for optimal growth this species requires full sunlight. There is a possibility here that the plant may have a fungal infection. There are a few sites that suggest that this species can be over-watered, in that it can lead to the roots rotting. This plant did rally in late Summer last year so if it can survive until then then I will see whether I am just being paranoid but I a currently at a bit of a loss as to whether this plant is unhappy. Reading the signals seems to suggest that she is.




Drake 30-05-15 Drake 30-05-15 (2) Drake 30-05-15 (3)

My boy keeps on improving. Also beginning to catch flies. He certainly got pretty hungry last year.




Piggy 30-05-15 Piggy 30-05-15 (2)

Piggy changes very little from week to week. She still looks very happy but nothing significant to speak of.




Venus 30-05-15 Venus 30-05-15 (2) Venus 30-05-15 (3) Venus 30-05-15 (4) Venus 30-05-15 (5)

Venus, oh Venus. Firstly, one of the larger remaining traps has shut although there appears to be nothing in there that I can see. As the last picture above shows, the new growth is still developing and it looks to be growing tall and looking healthy which is a very good sign. I also had to remove another developing flower stalk this week so all is looking good for Venus remaining a happy and strong plant.

The biggest news in Venus’s pot this week, is however, the invaders. ‘The weed’ at the back produced a long flower stalk, which probably means that it is going to try and seed itself elsewhere, which I will have to keep a very strong eye on. Until Winter I had no circular sundews and now there is one in Luke’s pot and at least two in Venus’s. These pesky critters are at risk of taking over.

In addition to this, it appears that there is another invader as seen in the second to last picture near to the circular sun dew. Now this looks all the world to me like a Drosera nidiformis like Sunny. Sunny did produce a flower stalk last year which did briefly flower before dying back. It seems that it has actually led to Sunny propagating herself. Good news at a time when Sunny herself appears to be in strife, but rather shocking news for me in that it is completely unexpected, and perhaps this influx of sundews into Venus’s pot risks harming his continued existence. She has never been the most resilient looking of plants, although admittedly she is rallying quite well at the moment.

It has certainly been a hotbed of propagation at some point over the last year. If Sunny herself does not survive then perhaps it will be best to simply transplant Venus into Sunny’s pot leaving the sundews in Venus’s old pot to fight it out amongst themselves. It’s like a French farce. That nidiformis, if indeed that is what it is, has also managed to catch a fly already. Stunned.




Aphro 30-05-15 Aphro 30-05-15 (2) Aphro 30-05-15 (3)

No new dead traps to report and a lot of good healthy central growth. Aphro rumbles on.



Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 30-05-15 Mint 30-05-15 (2)

Very little to say about the mint. It does not appear to be spreading much although it’s still quite early in the season. Not much evidence of interference from beasties so am happy.




Gronda 30-05-15 Gronda 30-05-15 (2) Gronda 30-05-15 (3) Gronda 30-05-15 (4) Gronda 30-05-15 (5)

Who’s back. Who’s bad!! My care of Gronda has been pretty excellent over the last few weeks and he continues to respond. I have been misting his leaves almost every day and also gave him a wee drink mid-week at the base of each set of stems. The new leaves are beginning to unravel and it’s not even his proper growing season yet. Am confident that by the Winter he will be back to his best. Proud.




Hulk 30-05-15 Hulk 30-05-15 (2) Hulk 30-05-15 (3)

Haven’t watered Hulk this week but he is also recovering strongly. No signs of droopy spines any longer and signs of new growth.




Snake 30-05-15 Snake 30-05-15 (2) Snake 30-05-15 (3)

Clearly I have been doing Snake a dis-service by accusing him of never changing, growing or in any way looking any different from week to week. As I discovered mid-week, one of the leaves at the back has in fact gone brown and looks pretty shriveled and dying, if not dead. Am I finally also going to have to keep an eye on old faithful here? This is the only leaf that appears to be in any strife but the worrying aspect is that there does not appear to be any apparent cause. Am pretty sure that this is quite odd behaviour for this almost indestructable plant. In the next few weeks I will have to look at Snake, just that little bit closer.




Flapjack 30-05-15 Flapjack 30-05-15 (2)

Like yin and yan, the plant that became two parts has those parts in opposition. The remaining leaf is looking more and more like it’s had it. Meanwhile, there are signs of new growth on the re-planted section. Whoop, whoop. This means that the transfer and re-potting has been a success. If the remaining original leaf dies then at least Flapjack will go on. The re-planted part is looking happy as Larry. Have not watered these plants this week but will if there are any signs of droopage.




An extra section this week. This is because my aforementioned neighbour, she who attended the Chelsea Flower Show and spoke to the carnivorous plant man, brought me back some seeds from said man at said show. The seeds are wrapped in light card and on this card is written, ‘Sarracenia Hybrid Mixed’. Now, I have never actually grown any carnivores from seed before.

https://www.growcarnivorousplants.com/Articles.asp?ID=270 explains that, “Many US-native carnivorous plants produce their seeds in early fall, right before the first frost of the season. If these seeds germinated too soon, the young seedlings would surely die because they wouldn’t have time to fully acclimate to upcoming winter weather. To prevent this from happening, these seeds contain enzymes that prevent them from germinating before the onset of winter. … In order to germinate these seeds, you must expose them to cold damp conditions in order to deactivate the enzymes. When the enzyme is deactivated, the seeds will germinate when the temperature warms up again. This process of preparing seeds for germination is called stratification.

http://www.bestcarnivorousplants.com/sowing_seeds.htm#Germination%20and%20lifespan%20of%20seeds states that, “The best time to sow seeds of CP is in early spring (February- April), but seeds can be sown at any time. The seedlings are very sensitive to a lack of light, thus the requirement for artificial light in the winter.

http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq3160.html  has Barry Rice providing the following advice: “seeds of Sarracenia … must experience a cold spell before they will germinate well. (The key word is well—some will germinate without a cold treatment, but you will get much better results by providing the treatments.) This cold treatment is called stratification.

During stratification, the seeds must be kept both cold and moist. (The seeds need to absorb water to begin the germination process). I prefer to sow such seed in their pots, and give them a wet, chilly winter just like the mature plants get. In the spring, after a few months of cold, they start erupting from the pots. It’s quite exciting. (Sometimes the thrill is so great I have to sit down and rest for a while.) About four weeks is the optimal stratification time for most Sarracenia. Shorter stratification periods will result in less complete germination. Longer stratification periods for S. leucophylla can result in smaller germination rates. Some Sarracenia may do better with a stratification of about six weeks; S. purpurea var. venosa, S. purpurea subsp. purpurea, and S. jonesii respond to this treatment by germinating faster, although the same overall germination rate is ultimately the same.


If it is best to plant the seeds between February and April and 4 weeks is the optimal time for cold stratification then I have missed the boat this year, so to speak, unless I consider trying to stimulate germination through artificial conditions, although the web indicates that there is quite a lot of disagreement over how to make this happen – with one bag of seeds I am only going to get one shot at this.

https://www.growcarnivorousplants.com/Articles.asp?ID=270 says that, “There are two ways you can stratify your seeds. The first method is by far the easiest and has the fewest risks. It follows the natural rhythm of the seasons. Essentially you sow your seeds in fall and look for seedlings in spring. Use this method if you live in zones 9 or colder.

The second method is best used if you need to germinate your seeds during the off-season, such as spring and summer when it is too warm for proper stratification.


I will therefore consider storage of these seeds until Winter next year when I will revisit.

http://www.carnivoreplants.co.uk/sarracenia_seeds.htm and http://www.bestcarnivorousplants.com/sowing_seeds.htm#Germination%20and%20lifespan%20of%20seeds both recommend that the seeds are kept in the refrigerator until required and these and other websites suggest that seeds can be kept like this for some time. The latter site here also suggests that, “Seeds should not be stored in absolutely dry conditions as relative humidity levels above zero help promote seed viability.

However, conditions should not be too moist. http://www.carnivorousplants.org/howto/Propagation/SarraceniaSeed.php explains that, “Storing the seed dry in the refrigerator isn’t stratification. Stratification is storing the seed in a cold and damp environment usually with natural materials that may aid the process of convincing the seed it is time to start growing.


All in all, I prefer the natural method and Barry Rice and others suggest that one can plant the seeds in Autumn and wait until Spring to see what germinates (although this appears to be at odds with his advice of not having too long a period of cold-stratification). It is possible that heavy rain and the sort of mild Winters that London has been seeing in recent years may make this unfeasible but this is a question for closer to the time. For the time being the seeds are going to wait in the fridge.


The following wesbites are listed as providing interesting advice relating to the growing of Sarracenia from seed:










1 Comment

Dendritic Reflective: Week 49

Just 3 weeks to go until some of the triffids have lasted a whole year. The temperature dropped significantly this week, at one point dropping down to 3.3°C overnight, but despite this anachronism, there has been plenty of rain and plenty of very warm sunshine. Perfect Spring weather for triffids despite the occasional cold spell. As we enter the last week of Spring, the weather indicates milder temperatures but more overcast conditions, with rain scheduled later in the week. It is warm enough not to worry and perhaps a lack of beating sun may also be better for some of the triffids as they continue to recover after Winter.

Here is my review of progress after forty nine weeks:


The Basil Brothers

Basil 24-05-15 Basil 24-05-15 (2) Basil 24-05-15 (3)

The original brothers do not look particularly healthy. They have been very droopy for several weeks and the leaves have taken a yellowish green hue that is far too yellow to look healthy and tends to suggest over-watering. Did actually use some basil for Italian cookery this week, to fill my belly, but also with an eye on trying to get the basil to kick into life. Am not saying that this did anything but there are now some new leaves growing at multiple places around one of the stems of Tall Basil. This is also at the point where stem has turned from green to brown, normally indicating secondary growth.

I am still tempted to do something quite radical with the basil in terms of creating cuttings to grow from scratch but I will now leave this until the new leaves grow. I will not be watering this plant this week as it does look over-watered although the yellow colouring could also possibly be due to scorching from the sun, which at its brightest this week has been pretty formidable, although the way the leaves look does not look as if this is the reason. Will see how the plant fares over the coming week.




Pitch 24-05-15 Pitch 24-05-15 (2) Pitch 24-05-15 (3) Pitch 24-05-15 (4)

Little to say on Pitch. The ‘alien’ nodules continue to sprout higher on their stems but still refuse to open. The new pitchers slowly continue to grow. Will know this plant’s intentions within the next few weeks. I read on one website that sarracenias tend to flower in early Spring. It is Summer next week, so it appears that after being slow into dormancy, Pitch is also slow to flower. His internal annual clock is pretty inaccurate. Hope it’s not doing him any harm.




Luke 24-05-15

Gonna have to be patient with this one. Growing slowly. Very slowly.




Sunny 24-05-15 Sunny 24-05-15 (2) Sunny 24-05-15 (3)

After keeping a very close eye on Sunny during the week she seems to have rewarded me, not only by actually surviving, but also by responding pretty well to the conditions. The main clump of sundew stems have turned a beautiful red and are maturing nicely. No further new growth appears to have died. Will still have to keep a close eye but it seems that things are improving.




Drake 24-05-15 Drake 24-05-15 (2) Drake 24-05-15 (3) Drake 24-05-15 (4)

Drake continues to mature wonderfully. Shades of last year, let’s see if he can improve on that performance.




Piggy 24-05-15 Piggy 24-05-15 (2)

Piggy has also adapted well to the external conditions and has improved rather than showing any decline. Perhaps we will get some new growth before Summer is over.




Venus 24-05-15 Venus 24-05-15 (2)

Although not showing an enormous amount of new growth, the best developing trap is growing large and tall and the other traps remain healthy.




Aphro 24-05-15 Aphro 24-05-15 (2) Aphro 24-05-15 (3)

A number of the older traps have continued to die off leaving only two or three traps that are as large a size as those of Venus. A number of very small traps remain and the new developing traps look like they are also going to be small.  It is an interesting comparison between Aphro and Venus where Aphro’s flower stalks have been removed fairly quickly whilst the flower stalk that Venus produced was left to flower before being removed. This should mean that it is Venus that would have the smaller traps and Aphro the larger, but this is not the way it has transpired although Aphro still has many many more traps in his pot, but this was the same last year when both were new before any flower stalks began to grow. Am waiting for this plant to spring into action but am conscious that he never really went into dormancy.



Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 24-05-15 Mint 24-05-15 (2)

Still developing nicely with not much more indication of slug, snail or caterpillar attack. Conditions this week will suit but may give additional watering if there is not much rain.




Gronda 24-05-15 Gronda 24-05-15 (2) Gronda 24-05-15 (3) Gronda 24-05-15 (4)

The four or five new leaves are developing well and I am hopeful that Gronda will soon not be as threadbare although there is a real push from all the stems towards the kitchen window and I may have to turn the plant round for a while in an attempt to even this up. Can’t wait till those new leaves appear. Have not watered Gronda at the base of the stems since last week but have been spraying his leaves almost every day and sometimes more than once a day. There is little sign of leaf curling from existing leaves which suggests that he is currently getting enough water.




Hulk 24-05-15

Not much change from Hulk. Filled up his saucer this morning and this has been drawn up during the day, it not really being hot or sunny enough for the water to have evaporated. Will look to do this once a week from now and see how Hulk progresses.




Snake 24-05-15

I did it myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-yyyy, wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy……




Flapjack 24-05-15

Filled up both of Flapjack’s pots today and the water has been fully drawn up in both cases. Again, I will continue with this once a week and see how the plant progresses. The new Flapjack looks very healthy and continues to develop happily. The old flapjack looks very sick indeed and with no new growth appearing I wonder how long this piece will last. That surviving leaf is certainly beginning to turn a funny colour.

Leave a comment

Sundew Watch

As predicted the weather has turned a little colder and the thermometer on the SW facing windowsill recorded a temperature of 3.3°C overnight. Luckily, Drake is hardy and indigenous to the climate so he does not seem to have been too phased, although I will review this at the weekend. Conversely, and again luckily, the lowest recorded overnight temperature on the SE facing windowsill was a mere 7.9°C so the plants that prefer a warmer climate did not have to suffer such cold. This is quite a disparity between temperatures at the two locations.


Apart from the colder nights, the weather has been almost perfect triffid weather with quite substantial bouts of rain being sandwiched by impressive and very warm morning and evening sunshine.


I am certainly keeping a close eye on the sundews this week and particularly Sunny to see how she is fairing following the change of environment. The following pictures detail her progress throughout the week:

Sunny 17-05-15Sunny 18-05-15Sunny  19-05-15

17th May                                                             18th May                                                             19th May

Sunny  21-05-15

21st May


Sunny 17-05-15 (2)Sunny 18-05-15 (2)Sunny  19-05-15 (2)

17th May                                                             18th May                                                             19th May


Sunny  21-05-15 (2)

21st May


Sunny  19-05-15 (3) Sunny  21-05-15 (3)

19th May                                                                                                                    21st May


It is really difficult to tell what is going on in that pot. Some of the new leaves have definitely died whilst others, including the strongest leaves to the right of the pots seem to be maturing nicely. Many of the leaves seemed to have turned from their initial green to become more red, and this is the crux, other parts of leaves seem to have browned slightly, indicating either cold or sun damage making them look as if they may die. It is a conundrum whether I should continue to leave her where she is or remove her back inside, although I note that when she first arrived she looked pretty pathetic. I am not aware of whether these plants are supposed to die back each year so will have to cross my fingers that she is merely re-adjusting to her new environment and hope that the strongest growth continues to develop. She was a late bloomer last year and didn’t really get going proper until August. We will see what occurs this year, but if she survives the outside I may have to consider moving her outside later in the year or even keeping her inside permanently.



Piggy 17-05-15 (2) Piggy 18-05-15

17th May                                                                                                                    18th May

Piggy on the other hand has shown no such worries at the change in circumstances. Although I missed it in my last review, he has certainly lived up to his name by catching no less than four flies, the top rightmost catch being the most impressive. Wonderful.

Leave a comment

Dendritic Reflective: Week 48

Here is my review of progress after forty eight weeks:

A short bulletin this week as there is very little to report. Despite last week’s weather forecast reporting that the temperature could drop as low as 6°C overnight the outside thermometer on the SE facing external window sill has reported a lowest temperature of 9.2°C, the other thermometer on the SW facing external window sill reports the lowest temperature as being 8.8°C. I am glad this is the case because next week’s weather forecast is threatening that it will be much colder with at least two nights where the temperature will drop to 6°C. I will monitor through the week.


The Basil Brothers

Basil 17-05-15 Basil 17-05-15 (2)

Have been trying not to overwater the brothers but it is clear that they are getting somewhat frazzled by the Spring sunshine. My girlfriend has also introduced a new basil plant liberated from some supermarket or other. I am looking to make spaghetti bolognese in the next few days so we will see how all three come to terms with me pinching their leaves to supplement the culinaries.




Pitch 17-05-15 Pitch 17-05-15 (2) Pitch 17-05-15 (3) Pitch 17-05-15 (4)

The final two pictures here show that Pitch is rapidly growing a number of new Pitchers. The ‘alien’ stalks continue to grow taller but still show no signs of doing whatever it is they are going to do. This week maybe!




Luke 17-05-15

Only introduced this week so Luke really has had no time to show any change one way or the other. Certainly looks no worse than he did after delivery so I hope that he is acclimatizing well enough.




Sunny 17-05-15 Sunny 17-05-15 (2) Sunny 17-05-15 (3)

Sunny is the real worry this week. Comparing the pictures this week with those last week seems to suggest that some of that healthy green growth appears to have reddened or even browned with some of it not looking particularly happy. Too much sun, too cold overnight, or perhaps it is just the change the environment. Am tempted to move him back inside if there is any further decline. Will need daily checks this week.




Drake 17-05-15 Drake 17-05-15 (2)

Continues to improve at a quite striking place.




Piggy 17-05-15 Piggy 17-05-15 (2)

Unlike Sunny, Piggy shows no signs of decline following his repatriation back outside. Will still keep an eye on him though as in the past he has been quite slow to react to changes in external stimuli.




Venus 17-05-15

Venus 17-05-15 (2) Venus 17-05-15 (3)

A couple of new longer stalks with traps are developing well as the shorter smaller Winter traps begin to die off. The proof of her recovery will be when those traps reach maturity.




Aphro 17-05-15

Aphro 17-05-15 (2) Aphro 17-05-15 (3) Aphro 13-05-15 Aphro 13-05-15 (3)

The final two pictures here show the presence of an unwelcome visitor on Wednesday night this week. This visitor proved even too big a meal for Aphro and mercifully no damage has been done to him. Elsewhere a number of the Winter traps continue to die back but there is plenty of new growth so I am still hopeful that Aphro can flourish once again despite his attempts to grow 3 flower stalks. A few of the newer growths may potentially be flower stalks but they could also be juvenile traps so will have to see how they develop.



Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 17-05-15 Mint 17-05-15 (2) Mint 17-05-15 (3)

The sisters rebirth continues and the current weather pattern is very good for Mint. No more evidence of increased slug/snail damage but will have to monitor this lest I need take protective precautions.




Gronda 17-05-15

Gronda 17-05-15 (2)

Gronda 17-05-15 (3)

I have been taking very good care of Gronda over the last week. Not only have I given him much more water than normal in his pot – using the moisture sensor to check that it is not too much, but I have also been regularly misting his leaves with the new sprayer. The new sprayer produces a much finer mist than last time and Gronda has been misted at least once a day, and more often than not twice or more times. He has responded magnificently and the middle picture shows at least 3 new leaves growing to development. Pretty chuffed.




Hulk 17-05-15

Hulk certainly looks happier in his new spot and there are no signs of drout despite having not watered him again since he has been in situ. Will check those remaining spines and any droopage will be met with a little drink.




Snake 17-05-15

Like watching paint dry, but still glad he’s surviving the dark, dank cave-like environment of a lightless bathroom.




Flapjack 17-05-15

Although the remains of Flapjack in the left hand pot do not look much different from last week, and perhaps it is too late for this part to recover, the part of Flapjack in the right pot has responded well and is looking much happier about life. The soil in the pots has looked quite damp for most of the week so despite the new sunnier position I have resisted the urge to water again. Will keep an eye on both parts.

Leave a comment

New Arrival: Use the Force

Perhaps my care of plants has not been acceptable enough recently to justify obtaining a new plant but I have had my eyes on a White Pitcher for some time now and couldn’t resist. Introducing:


Luke 12-05-15 Luke 12-05-15 (2) Luke 12-05-15 (3)


(on the South East facing External Kitchen Window sill)

White Pitcher (indigenous to North Florida)

Sarracenia leucophylla

Delivered by courier from Hampshire already in his pot on Tuesday 12th May 2015


I must confess to being a little disappointed with Luke upon his arrival. Whilst advertised as being delivered already mature he was delivered with only a single mature pitcher and this was unfortunately damaged whilst liberating him from the roll of cling film in which he was wrapped. This means that there are now no fully grown pitchers. Luckily, as the final picture shows there is a healthy looking juvenile pitcher so all is not lost. It is apparent however that the pitcher that was damaged had no white elements. Will have to do some study to learn whether there is any difference in case required with this pitcher as opposed to other North American pitchers such as Pitch.

In a further bout of moaning, I must also mention the presence of our old friend ‘the weed’ delivered in the soil along with Luke. This very much looks like my old ‘friend’, Drosera spatulata, although the plant is not yet fully grown. Now I will have to manage two instances of this ‘weed’.

Currently, Luke is tucked away partially behind Pitch meaning that he will get far less sunlight until Summer arrives proper. It is very warm today although I have re-positioned my outside thermometers to monitor any significant decreases in temperature.

Leave a comment

Growth and Labour (Dendritic Reflective: Week 47)

Here is my review of progress after forty seven weeks:

I’ve been a busy bee this week and have sorted out a number of the things that I have kept failing to do. Hopefully the triffids will be a lot better for it and the grow and re-growth that commenced in Spring has certainly continued pleasingly. Have also taken rather a lot of snaps this week so bear with me.

Weather w-c 10-05-15 BBC

Weather w-c 10-05-15 Weather Channel

The weather check over the next week indicates that night time temperatures are warming up. Today has been very warm and this seems set to continue with rain also happily forecast for later in the week. Not so perfect for being out of the house but great weather for ducks, and best of all conditions for triffids.


The Basil Brothers

Basil 10-05-15 Basil 10-05-15 (2)

Very little to say about the Brothers. They survived my being away pretty well and are both showing signs of flowering once again. This must be about the third time this Summer. Have purchased some pots today from the gardening centre, as will be seen later, so perhaps it is time to take some cuttings and continue the family dynasty. These folks are too much stalk and too little leaves these days and the situation does not appear to be improving. The Brothers, after all, are working plants, and are not just here to look pretty – they are here to supplement my huge desire for regular spaghetti bolognese. Yum!




Pitch 10-05-15  Pitch 10-05-15 (4)  Pitch 10-05-15 (3)  Pitch 10-05-15 (2)

Pitch 10-05-15 (5)  Pitch 10-05-15 (6) Pitch 10-05-15 (8)  Pitch 10-05-15 (9) Pitch 10-05-15 (10)

The first 4 pictures above show Pitch as he was today and show the remarkable growth of the ‘alien’ like structures which continue to impose menacingly in the pot. If they are flowers, then they still show no signs of flowering yet.

The second 5 pictures show Pitch after I removed the dead foliage and cut the brown dried-up parts from the Pitchers. Unfortunately, during this process, I accidentally also managed to snip one of the smaller ‘alien’ stalks from the back, so that is one less flower, or whatever these incongruous monoliths will eventually yield.

I have a suspicion that of all the triffids, Pitch was the one who suffered most while I was away. He was dry by the time I returned although the soil in the pot was still moist – it had actually been raining a fair bit back in Blighty so he cannot have got too Thursday. Nevertheless, I do feel somewhat guilty. The wee tray in which his pot stands is probably slightly too small and perhaps I should consider investing in something a little bigger, if it will actually fit on the window sill of course.



Sunny 10-05-15 Sunny 10-05-15 (2)

Sunny 10-05-15 (3) Sunny 10-05-15 (4)

The first two pictures above show Sunny in situ of the South East facing Internal Kitchen Windowsill and the second two show Sunny post-relocation to the South East facing External Kitchen Windowsill. With next week’s temperatures only threatening to drop to 6°C at their overnight coldest, and this only for a single night, I am taking the chance of returning Sunny back to the outside window sill. I reckon that she could do with some proper sun outside, her current inside spot being somewhat shaded through a good section of the day. On balance, the benefits of the increased sunlight allowance outweigh the risk of the overnight temperature becoming to cold. My temperature monitoring over Winter has consistently demonstrated that the temperature in the area where the triffids are resident is generally a good one or two degrees warmer than the predicted temperature at the very least. Also, the forecast predicted a cold rainy day today and it’s ended up being gloriously warm and sunny, so what the hell, Sunny can go back outside and I will continue to monitor the overnight temperature. It is not unknown in England for mid-May temperatures to drop down to freezing so if any cold snaps threaten I will move Sunny back inside to the warmth. In the meantime, she can soak up that late Spring sunshine.




Drake 10-05-15 Drake 10-05-15 (2) Drake 10-05-15 (3)

Drake continues to recover at pace aplenty, wonderful to see. Little to say apart from that really. Lot’s of new shoots continuing to appear and some of the older new shoots already beginning to develop into proper dew leaves. In the next two or three weeks he’s going to look magnificent once again.




Piggy 10-05-15 Piggy 10-05-15 (2) Piggy 10-05-15 (3) Piggy 10-05-15 (4)

Piggy, like Sunny, has also been sent outside to the South East facing External Kitchen Windowsill on the basis that the sunshine will hopefully do him a lot more good than sitting in the kitchen. However, there is much caution with Piggy, who prefers conditions more tropical than temperate so will really have to watch those evening temperatures lest they do him a mischief.

It is also worth noting that whereas Piggy started out on the same windowsill last year, I had to move him after a couple of weeks because too much sunshine was not agreeing with him. This move to the South West facing External Kitchen Windowsill happened on July 12th. At this time of year the sun is not likely to be as hot yet, although the external thermometer does record pretty high temperatures in direct sunlight, and will certainly not shine for as long, the solstice still being at least six months off but nevertheless this will be something to watch carefully. As noted last year, 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.

Now that I know a bit more about this plant it may also be worth considering whether Piggy’s suffering in July last year was actually due to the temperature outside still being too cold. We will have to wait and observe in order to understand. Is this plant agreeable to living outside in a London Summer? I have moved my outdoor thermometer to this windowsill.

All this aside, moving Piggy outside has certainly allowed me to get in for a closer shot of his carnivorous equipment. Quite beautiful really.




Venus 10-05-15 Venus 10-05-15 (2) Venus 10-05-15 (3) Venus 10-05-15 (4)

The Weed 10-05-15

New traps are forming in Venus’s pot and as yet they do not look deformed although we will have to wait until they reach maturity to see if they develop properly. Venus has always been a bit wimpy at the best of times and my ignorance of a developing VFT flower stalk have certainly affected any little get-up-and-go that Venus still had. I wait with baited breath.

If one is looking for efficacy and enterprise in Venus’s pot then one need look no further than to the rear side where the uninvited guest is flourishing after Winter. Not only are the dew fronds getting larger but the little blighter is having the audacity to flower. Now, this creates a number of issues. I am now fairly convinced that this visitor is Drosera spatulata, the spoon-leaved sundew, and I have mentioned before that such plants or their variants are considered by carnivorous plant gardeners to be weeds. It is therefore highly possible that this plant could actually take over the pot in which Venus is currently residing. Flowers normally mean seeds and seed dispersal and this plant is currently growing a rather imposing looking flower stalk – I’m thinking War of the Worlds here! Not only must I watch Venus’s pot but I’m also going to have to keep an eye on the other pots as well, as the use of the word ‘weed’ tends to suggest that this sucker is going to be bloody good at turning up in lots of places.

With a morbid fascination, I will let this plant do his thang. He is after all, the free gift, the plant I never bought, or asked for. I am also a lover of sun dews so am interested to see how he grows and develops. I have seen pictures where VPTs co-exist happily in the same pot with such plants. BUT, I am not going to get attached to this plant, will not name him (yet), and will warn him that any threats against existing carnivores will be met with swift and ruthless removal. This plant will not be allowed to establish itself in the pots of other carnivores, and he can live in Venus’s pot just as long as he behaves himself. Venus has already got enough to worry about.




Aphro 10-05-15 Aphro 10-05-15 (2) Aphro 10-05-15 (3) Aphro 10-05-15 (4) Aphro 10-05-15 (5) Aphro 10-05-15 (6) Aphro 10-05-15 (7) Aphro 10-05-15 (8)

Aphro has always been an efficient carnivore. If he was a person, he would be a beer swilling, cigar smoking, anti-hero, physically fit and ‘double-hard’ if you’ll excuse the Janner-ism. In that pot there is a fair bit of new growth occurring. The smaller Winter traps remain but the newer and larger traps of Spring growth are beginning to form. Rather amazingly, some of the larger traps from last year still remain, having survived, an admittedly reasonably mild British Winter. The last two of these pictures show that one of these veteran traps has caught a rather large fly, look to the middle of the final picture or upper right of centre in the preceding picture.

Not just satisfied with being a wily hunter capable of catching prey with even the oldest of hunting gear, I can also report that in the 6 days I have been away Aphro has also grown another flower stalk, seen above in the middle three pictures more or less in the centre of each. This is now the third flower stalk that he has grown and the second this year. Mercifully this time I have caught the little blighter even earlier and it has been removed. What a guy!



Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 10-05-15

Mint 10-05-15 (2) Mint 10-05-15 (3)

It has been perfect weather for new growing mint with a mixture of good sunlight and lots of rain showers. Cass and Aggy have responded well, although I guess that I am now dealing with the second generation. There are signs of slug or caterpillar attack and I may have to consider some sort of repellant. Did a bit of weeding today with a number of other plants trying to take up residency in this pot, but as the mint approaches from its Winter slumber my thoughts turn to another sort of pot. Stick the kettle on! It can’t be long now until I get the cup of mint tea that so frustratingly alluded me last year.




Gronda 10-05-15

Gronda 10-05-15 (2) Gronda 10-05-15 (3) Gronda 10-05-15 (4) Gronda 10-05-15 (5) Gronda 10-05-15 (6) Gronda 10-05-15 (7)

After being a little worried over Gronda’s wee-being during my trip away, I was pleasantly surprised that despite looking a little more thirsty than normal he had faired pretty well. I did give him a good drink the day I left and this was enough to see him through. Today I have removed the dead foliage, although my cack-handedness with the scissors claimed a further victim and I managed to score one of the healthy stalks. It doesn’t look too bad but perhaps another healthy leave may die. A further healthy stalk was broken during the transition and thus had to be removed. On the plus side Gronda was given a good drain and soak outside and absored all the water given. As previously mentioned, from now on I will be looking to give him a good drink once a week applied directly to the bottom of the stalk bases. If some of the leaves continue to remain curled up then I will either increase the amount of water given or may increase the frequency of waterings, without seeking to overdo it. I also bought a new water mister at the gardening centre today so will also be looking to mist him every few days so hopefully this should eradicate the leaf curling completely. Encouragingly, there are signs of new stalks growing but as yet these are in their infancy. Gronda is not quite as majestic as when first purchased but I feel that I have finally got on top of his management. Onwards and upwards!




Hulk 10-05-15 Hulk 10-05-15 (2) Hulk 10-05-15 (3)

As can be seen in the pictures above, Hulk is the recipient of a new tray bought from the garden centre today. He has also been relocated into a position akin to his previous spot on the South East facing Internal Kitchen Windowsill. This will afford him much more sun than he has been getting and will hopefully bring him back to his prime, although a sunnier and therefore warmer spot may also mean that I have to up his water dosage, currently sitting at one reasonable watering a week applied directly into the pot. Today I furnished him with a drain and soak but as the soil in which he sits is very sandy, as preferred by cacti and succulents, it is not high on water retention. Will keep an eye on how he likes his new position. He is much higher than he was previously and likely to get a lot more sun. Watering requirements to be reviewed but it is noted that the remaining cactus spikes are not drooping suggesting that he is not currently thirsty.




Snake 10-05-15

Faster than a speeding bullet,

More powerful than a locomotive,

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.


Not a great conversationist.




Flapjack 10-05-15 Flapjack 10-05-15 (2) Flapjack 10-05-15 (3) Hulk & Flapjack 10-05-15 Flapjack 10-05-15 (4)

Finally, I have given Flapjack a bit of well deserved TLC. My garden centre trip has introduced two 3″ pots and some matching trays. The picture above shows the roots that have formed on the piece of Flapjack that became detached from the main plant. This has now been planted in cacti & succulent friendly soil also purchased from the garden centre. The remaining plant was removed from its small pot and also replanted in cacti friendly soil. With the removal of Sunny and Piggy outside, Flapjack has also finally been found a proper space on the South East facing Internal Kitchen Windowsill. To be watered once a week, which will be hell of a lot easier with the new trays, with these watering provisions to be reviewed. As mentioned with Hulk, the specialist cacti & succulent soil has excellent drainage and with his new sunnier spot I will have to check that the little fella is getting enough water. What a hardy little plant Flapjack has turned out to be, despite my lack of due care. I hope that he will respond to his change of medium and scenery.