Sunday, June 10, 2007

Carnivorous pitcher plants on parade

In case you, dear readers, have not yet realized that I'm a little strange, this post should convince you. For the last four years or so, I've been growing carnivorous plants, mostly North American and Asian pitcher plants and a few flytraps. The flytraps didn't like our winter this year, so a lot of them didn't make it. But the pitchers are lookin' good. The Asian pitchers, (Nepenthes), grow in my kitchen window, some in hanging baskets and others on the windowsill. The North American pitchers (Sarracenia) prefer to be outside, so they grow in pots on my deck. This is the time of year when they look their best, especially the North American pitchers. They've woken up from their winter sleep, and they're flowering and producing lots of new pitchers. Here are a few pics:



Sarracenia purpurea in bloom

And closeups of a couple flowers:

Sarracenia purpurea flower

Bloom on carnivorous pitcher plant

The Asian pitchers don't go dormant in winter, but they do stop pitchering. Mine are just starting to produce new pitchers:



Nepenthes burbidgeae

The most common question I get about these strange plants is, "Do you have to feed them?" I do feed the indoor ones. Pity the hapless insect that finds its way into my house. It will be stunned with a rolled-up newspaper and popped into a Nepenthes pitcher faster than you can say, "Dinner time!" The plants that are outside catch plenty of their own food. Some of my larger pitchers will be filled to the top with insect carcasses by the end of the summer. One of the first things I learned when I started growing them was, Never look inside the pitchers! You don't want to see what goes on in there, but it would make a great arthropod horror movie.

If you're one of the few people who thinks all this is cool rather than disgusting, I recommend you get a copy of The Savage Garden, which will tell you all you need to know about growing carnivorous plants:

And if you're ready to grow some of your own, I recommend Sarracenia Northwest, an online carnivorous plant nursery based here in Oregon:

No comments: