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
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 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.
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.
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.
My boy keeps on improving. Also beginning to catch flies. He certainly got pretty hungry last year.
Piggy changes very little from week to week. She still looks very happy but nothing significant to speak of.
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.
No new dead traps to report and a lot of good healthy central growth. Aphro rumbles on.
Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)
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.
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.
Haven’t watered Hulk this week but he is also recovering strongly. No signs of droopy spines any longer and signs of new growth.
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.
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: