That was a lot of water! and ICE!

Crazy weather here today… thunderstorms and rain – sun – more thunder – more sun… then HAIL (pea sized the odd dime sized) and RAIN!!! Got over an inch in a half hour!  Bogs couldn’t drain fast enough! and remember the cups I put outside… found the seeds all over the place in them.  Go figure a 1 inch diameter hole and hail and rain found its way in!  Oh well.. there were still seeds in there!


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A little unusual for this time of year!

So I’m trying something a bit different this year.  I have a pile of seed sitting in my fridge that I was planning on planting this spring but never got around to it.  So I thought to myself, what if I germinate them outside this summer and bring them in and grow them over the winter? That way they’ll be a bit bigger when I put them outside.  Granted, I put spring germinated seedling outside last fall before the winter from hell and they all came through just fine!!!  Anyway… here’s what I’m doing

Everyone has their way of germinating Sarracenia.  I’ve always used blended up dry long fibre sphagnum… but since I didn’t have any of that around this time… I used the usual mix of peat and sand that I’d use for adult plants.

I put my media into the pot and sprinkled the seeds.  Stuck in a pot tag,  sprayed it with an anti-fungal, put them in a zippy bag, and stuck them in the fridge for 4 weeks.

This is the what they looked like after their stay in the fridge.


Sorry for the blurry photo…

Then I took the pots out of the bags and dropped them into a plastic cup.  Prior to dropping the pot in, I drilled a few holes in the sides of the cup about a cm from bottom.  Then I snapped on the lids.  I’m going to stick these out in the sun and see how it goes.  Normally, I’d put the zippy bags and pots under lights and germinate them. Here’s a photo of the cups all ready to go.  Only thing I’ll do when I take them outside is fill the bottoms with rain water and give the surface a spray of fungicide again!



I’ll update on the progress!


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Where there was one… there are now many!

So the big theme this season has been the “coldest winter in 20 years” and the effects that it has had on my outdoor Sarracenia culture.  The gist has been that the plants have been relatively unscathed. A true testament to the fact that these plants are much hardier than people give them credit for.

As I mentioned previously, there were a few losses due to frost heave.  As things started growing this spring, I looked to me that there were maybe 20 or so plants that were either dead, or on the way out!  However, after leaving them alone, they’ve since come back… albeit stunted by none the less, they’re “back from the dead”.

So the other day, I was dividing up some plants for people.  One person in particular wanted a Sarracenia flava rubricopora. I wan’t too keen on dividing it as it was one of the “near death” experience plants that I mentioned in my last post.  Upon inspection, I noticed it had a tremendous amount of growth points! all new from this season.  This plant last year at best had 2 or 3 crowns and those two or three old growth points were dead!

I looked at the albino alata next door to it… it too was believed to be dead.  A closer look at that plant has revealed a mass of new growth points as well.  My guess is that the near death experience caused these plants put up all sorts of new shoots to ensure survival.  If you look at the alata below, it is a mess of new growth… this plant was lucky to have had 3 – 5 active growing points last season.



This AF leuco below also has a massive flush of new grow points. Like I said, stunted… but growing.  Assuming a better winter, this should be a large multi crowned plant next season.

leucoI looked around at number of the plants that I thought were dead or were going to die, and the same pattern has held. It looks like the original growing points have died and the plant is sending up a whole pile of new growth points!

So I guess that there is a positive to the nasty winter after all.




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I saw this White Light… and it felt peaceful!

You ever hear one of those “near death” or “back from the dead” stories?  If you have, you’ve probably heard about the peaceful feeling and the bright white light!  Well if my plants could talk, they’d be telling me all about that white light!!!!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I figured I’d deal with some losses due to the extreme cold this winter.  I reported that my Drosera binatas had died, as did a few of my Sarracenia due to heaving out of the soil from the intense freeze!

I ended up leaving the “dead” plants in the ground, hoping that they might come back!  Actually the truth is, I never got around to pulling them out and giving them a proper burial in the composter.  By the time I made the time to get them out and compost them, low an behold, they’ve come back to life.  Some are extremely messed up, like this psittacina below.

psitHere is photo of my binatas!  I was shocked

binataAnother plant that I thought was dead was one of my two flava “red tube” clones.  One is dead… but this one has been growing back and finally has produced a couple of leaves!  INSANE!


I was convinced that this gulf coast purpurea was done!  Looks like its gonna make it after all.



So the lesson to be learned here, for people growing Sarracenia in cold climates, don’t pitch the pitcher plants if they look dead in early spring cause they will come back when they see the light!




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Water… I need water!

How much? How little? What kind? These are all questions I get from people with regards to watering their Bogs… or CP in general.

First lets start off with what kind of water.  I’ve been asked so many times what kind of water is best, tap, RO, spring, distilled? The answer is VERY simple… rain water!  That’s what waters them in the wild… so water them with rain captivity!  Rain water is soft and generally acidic.  Granted it can have pollutants and other non desired things in it… but that’s what waters the plants in the wild!  So do what you can to collect and store rainwater.  Remember, keep your containers covered or standing water can become a west nile breeding ground!

Unfortunately, mother nature doesn’t tend to water my bogs as often as needed.  In the heat of the summer, water evaporation is high, so I use my reserves.  I have a 200 gallon tank that I’ve redirected a downspout into.  At the top of tank is a large drain pipe that takes the overflow and drains it away.  My tank has a tap and garden hose connected to it at the bottom.  So anytime that the bogs need a watering… I just carefully lay the hose in the center and turn on the water very slowly, and let it run for an hour or so in each bog, until I can see the water level has come up.

Here is my tank.


If push comes to shove and I’ve run out of rain water, I’ve used regular old tap water in a pinch with no ill effects.

This is all fine and dandy for large bog gardens… but what about a small tray of plants.  Again, collect rain water.  Failing that, I’d got with distilled and NOT spring water.  Spring water has too many minerals in it!

The next big question is how often to water.  Remember, roots of plants like to get air too.  At the edges of my bogs, I have sunken pots. These pots allows me to see how much water is in the bog.  When I water, I add water until the bogs are full (or let the rain do that). Then I let all the water evaporate in the bogs until there is no water visible in the sunken pot.  Then, I let it stay like that for a few days (3-7 depending on how hot it is) … then fill the bog back up with water.  I think this approach mimics the natural rise and fall of the water in the soil in nature.  This also lets the roots “breathe” a bit as well. Important thing is to make sure the soil is moist!  It doesn’t need to be soggy!


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Sarracenia flava 101 – Part 2

To continue…

Sarracenia flava var atropurpurea

This one is my personal favorite.  In full sun and proper growing conditions, this variant turns red from top to bottom.  The one shown below is getting there… but not quite yet.


Notice the nectar roll is yellow.  In many specimens of var atropurpurea, the lip and inside of the pitcher can stay tan in color… The cultivar “Waccamaw” (below) exemplifies this type of coloration.  (photo credit to Julian Brooks)


S. flava var atropurpurea is confined to southern NC and northern SC in small numbers.  However, there is another area where these pure red plants can be found… the Florida panhandle.  There is a large population of these plants in the Blackwater State Forest.  These plants turn completely red, no yellow nectar roll or light colored interior.  What is interesting here is that you can actually still see the veins and the throat splotch! (photographed at Blackwater SF, 2012)


Many years ago someone told me that the plants in Blackwater were a result of a transplants from NC done many, many years ago.  I bought into that theory at first, but looking at the two plants side by side, I feel they are different.  The gulf coast atros appear to be solid red forms of the typical gulf coast form of flava var rugelii (discussed below) as indicated by the defined throat splotch.

Sarracenia flava var. rugelii

This form is easy to identify!  It is a brilliant yellow/green leaf with a distinct red band around the base of the hood column.  Often referred to as a “throat splotch”.  For years, before this plant was given taxonomic status by Don Schnell, it was referred to as Sarracenia flava “cut throat” (for obvious reasons).  I have not seen plants like this in the Carolinas, however, it is the predominant form in southern GA, FL panhandle and south eastern AL.  Below is a photo of var rugelli from Bulloch Co. GA in my bog garden.


The plant below is somewhat of an anomaly to me.  It comes from Bulloch Co. GA as well.  I think it is treated as flava var flava, however it’s stature is different from the var flava forms of the Carolinas.  Its a much “beefier” plant, wider opening at the top and larger hood, same form and characteristics as var rugelii, however, its veined.  Also, var flava to the best of my knowledge does not have the distinct “cut throat”, but rather a redder throat area due to the confluence of veins.


Sarracenia flava var rubricorpora

Funny as I started writing this post on flava variants, I realized my only two rubricopora specimens died from the cold this winter!  So I had to go to my photo collection to see if I had any good photos. Sadly, this is the best I got.


Variant rubricorpora is very unique. It has a beautiful red pitcher tube and yellow veined lid, with yellow nectar roll and pitcher interior.  Before it was given taxonomic status it was referred to as S. flava “red tube”.  This plant is limited to the FL panhandle, with many beautiful colonies in the Apalachicola State Forest.

Var rubricorpora has been confused over the years with var atropurpurea.  As the season progresses, the defining yellow lid suffuses with red, in some cases so much so that the plant looks to be var atropurpurea.  I know this is not the best photo, but if you take a look at the newer pitcher in the bottom left, you can see its a yellow lid… but the rest of the plant is quite red.



I’ve seen Sarracenia at both ends of its natural range and all points inbetween over the years.  It is truly the most impressive of all the species in my opinion.  The color variation and stature of the plant is remarkable.  Although very striking in cultivation, nothing beats a field of flavas on a hot summer day!




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Sarracenia flava 101 Part 1

bogSo I was sitting out in my back yard today, enjoying my plants.  I can’t tell you how much better it is growing them out in the open where people can enjoy them versus all cooped up in a greenhouse.   In the greenhouse they were out of site out of mind, here, they’re in your face!!! Love it!

Anyway, as I was looking over the plants, I noticed that for the first time in years, I was able to identify all the Sarracenia forms.  With those tree’s gone (again thank you rear neighbor), the increase light levels has done wonders for coloration.  I got to thinking… that would be a neat idea for a post…  a visual guide to the color forms of S. flava.

So today… part 1

Sarracenia flava var maxima

This variant has completely green/yellow leaves with no red veins.  The more sun you give them, the more yellow the leaves look.  The only red pigment is in the growth point and the very small newly emerging leaves, otherwise the leaves are devoid of red pigment.

This would be a good time to mention Sarracenia flava var viridescens. This form is completely green and free of all red pigment.  So the only way to tell it from the var maxima is to look at the growth point. If the growing point has any red, its not var viridescens.  The photo below is actually a var maxima specimen from a long extinct site in Virginia.



S. flava var flava

This is the most common variant in the wild. Its leaves are finely veined from lid to base. The photo below is a var flava that originated from a now extinct site in Virginia. In cultivation its been referred to as  “Gary’s Church”. By far my favorite var flava specimen.



Sarracenia flava. var ornata

This variant is similar to var flava and can easily be confused with var flava.  For me, var ornata is very heavily veined.  The veins are much thicker and darker than the var flava sometimes the color spilling into the green of the leaves.  This one below hails from the florida panhandle where it is fairly common.



Sarracenia flava var cuprea

This form has a coppery color lid and sometimes upper pitcher.  The copper color can vary considerably, from a light coppery flush to a dark coppery color.  I’ve seen copper tops that have no other veining in the leaves, basically a var maxima with a copper lid, to very veined specimens with coppery lids.  Its the copper colored lid that distinguishes this form from the others.  The photo below is a North Carolina specimen.



That’s it for part 1…  part 2 to follow



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