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.
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
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!
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.
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 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, 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.
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 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)
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.
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!
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.
Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Not a great conversationist.
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.