Its been chilly!


Normally I post some glorious photo of the bogs or something before I start writing… but this time there is no need for a photo. So what’s with the photo you ask?  Its a random late spring photo from a few years back! I have to put something up!

After coming through an amazingly mild winter, we’ve been dealing with a very cool spring.  We recorded temp a high of only -2C back on April 4th, and low of -9C on April 5th… crazy! But generally we’ve been around 8-15C for highs.  With that… there is not much moving!!!  Some of my Sarracenia have 10cm flower scapes… but that’s about it. Everything else looks pretty sleepy!

So what can tell you about?  Well I cleaned everything up for the spring since my last post.  All the pine needles have been removed and the dead material has been removed from the plants and I’ve been plugging up squirrel holes as is common practice this time of year. Really, that’s about it!  I know… boring!

I’m happy to report that every plant, including out planted seedlings came through just fine this winter. Everything looks fresh and healthy. If we get out this cool weather pattern, hopefully things will start moving! But according to the 10 day forecast… nothing above 18C, it will be slow but steady.


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Ok so here we are… We’ve had a beautiful mild winter, mild temps most of the time, very little snow… my kind of winter!  Now the spring flowers are blooming, the shrubs are breaking bud, the magnolia flower buds are cracking, all of this about 3 weeks early I might add… and this is what I woke up to! Really?…. Oh… and it gets worse!

Now we are under a winter weather advisory … 15-20 cm’s of snow possible, at least according the oh, oh, and 50km/h wind gusts! I really thought we were done with this.  Oh… did I mention most nights over the next 10 days are forecast below freezing! Infact Monday night -9C …. say goodbye to all the spring flowers!!!!

Oh… they named the storm URSULA! Like I care! Hey maybe something positive will come out of this… maybe they’ll cancel school buses and I won’t have any kids to teach tomorrow! Just finding that silver lining!


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And They’re Off!


The age old question… when to take off the pine needles!  Well this year, the answer for me is March 7th!

We’ve had a very mild winter here in Zone6b (my part of it anyway).  Although we did have a few cold snaps, and some wintery weather, it was for the most part a mild and comfortable winter.  According the the US weather service, March, April and May are slated to be above average in my parts… and March is shaping up that way already.

Today as I left work my thermometer registered 16C, and the rest of the week is shaping up to much of the same… temps between 8C and 16C for the next 10 days and no nights below freezing.  When I see that sort of mild weather pattern, its time to get the bulk of the pine needles off and let the air and sun get to the plants. Warm days, cool nights, wet pine needles and no air circulation is a good recipe for mold and fungus… Also, you don’t want plants to start growing quicker because of the warm mulch, so getting these needles off is not only good for plant health… it makes the transition from dormancy more “natural”.

Anyway… so today when I got home, I removed my pine needles.  As you can see in the photo, there are still some needles there. I don’t think they really do much, but it makes me feel better just in case we get some freezing weather.  In a couple of more weeks, I will clean up all the rest of pine needles and start the spring clean up.

I did a quick check on the plants as I cleaned up the needles…  they all look good, even the seedlings.  Doesn’t look like there is any really heaving issues like last year… likely because the bogs didn’t freeze as hard.

Welcome to the start of new Season.


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Welcome to 2016

Happy New Year!  I know its January 3rd… Welcome to a new year.  Again the big news in my area (Niagara Falls Canada), is that the temperatures (on average) will be significantly above the seasonal average.  Now this doesn’t mean its not going to be cold, hell, its January! But the month on the whole is supposed to be warmer than the seasonal average of -1C for a high and -7C as a nightime low.

I think its finally time to put the pine needles on the bogs, though I have to admit, I’m feeling like I should see how things go yet a little further.  However, I’m going to err on the side of caution, mild days and cold nights spell trouble.   Tonight and tomorrow will be cold, -10C for a low tonight and only -9C for high tomorrow! however, up around 6C for the rest of the week… with nights are going to be cold between -3C and and -8C.

So what’s the trouble?  Freeze/Thaw cycles.  Keeping the plants frozen is the best thing for them in this climate.  So the pine needles, although not a great insulator, keep the drying winds off the plants so they don’t freeze dry, but more importantly the keep they sun (if its out) off the surface of the bogs so they don’t heat up and thaw… thus keeping them frozen.

This is officially the latest I’ve ever put pine needles on my bogs…  With El Nino promising to play a significant roll in February and March as well, one can only hope that they will come off early too!


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Guess what I got for Christmas? an El Nino!


So here we are, the first official day of winter, December 22nd and the days are getting longer!

At this point we are sitting at 12C (54F) and tomorrow is supposed to get up to 16C (62F) and the next day 15C before a cold front moves throught and sinks our temperatures to 7C (44F)… cold front?  Our season temperture is +2C (36F) this time of year with temps mostly below freezing at night.

Without going to data and counting, I think we’ve had 5 – 10 days below freezing at night since last winter!  It has been incredibly mild this fall and the trend is projected to continue through out the winter!

So what’s the problem?  From a personal point of view…. NONE! Fall jackets, no snow, no shovelling… no mess!  not to mention, cheaper heating costs… the list goes on!  However, from my plants point of view… well, we’ll have to see what January and February brings.  Let me explain.

You see, Sarracenia come from places where they typically get about 2.5 – 3.5 months of dormancy, some plants, even less.  This dormancy is brought on by decreasing light levels and decreasing it follows that the dormancy is broken by warming temperatures and increased light levels.  However, I firmly believe that light levels and daylight hours play a more important factor in dormancy than temperatures.I’ve seen S. minor growing in south central Florida, its warm there all year!  What induces dormancy in those plants? Light levels, and daylight hours… maybe temperature a little… but I don’t think its all that critical.

Here is a better example. When I grew my plants in the my greenhouse, my S. flava (earliest bloomer) started pushing flower buds up in mid to late February… not because its really warm, infact the greenhouse was only just above freezing at that time of year. However, the sun is stronger and daylight hours longer! At this latitute daylight hours go over 11 hours of sun per day in mid February and that seems to be the magic number! At that point, the growth cycle would kick in regardless of how cold it was.  Now granted, growth was very slow… but starting!  Which brings me to my concerns.


As you can see in the first photo, the grass is very green and still growing indicating how mild it is. Now my Sarracenia are quite dormant… and have been since early November. At the end of this month, they will have been dormant for about 2 months.  Add a mild January to the mix, and by the end of January, they will have got their total  dormancy requirements and then some under their belts… They will be chewing at the bit to start growing again!

There in lies the problem.  If we don’t get cold temps in January and February to keep these plants asleep, they might break dormancy early when the light levels increase and light hours reach the critical 11 hours per day!

So… we’ll just see how things go… I looked at all the plants today and there is no sign of growth AT ALL! they are completely asleep… I just hope morning doesn’t come too soon!

This will likely be my last post for 2015.  As is customary at this time, I’d like to thank everyone who continues to read my ramblings.  I’ve got some great messages from folks who just found this blog this year and have told me how helpful this has been.  I sincerely hope that seasoned and new Sarraceniaphiles are inspired to push the limits and continue to grow these wonderful plants outdoors.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and may 2016 be another great year.



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No Real Winter Yet!


I got my pine needles and have been ready to winterize the ol’ bogs for a few weeks now… but it certainly doesn’t look like winter here yet.  Green grass and mild days!  Here is a quick look at the forecast into mid December…

So far, the weather forecasters have been bang on with regards to the effects of El Nino for my area… above average temperatures and below average precipitation.  Hopefully this trend continues… after the past two record breaking cold winters, a mild winter will be very much appreciated!



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What a Day!


I can’t believe it… its the middle of November and we were basking in full sun and beautiful temps of 14C.  The El Nino forecast is certainly holding… they said a mild autumn.. and so far, its been that way.  Many of the plants are still looking pretty good!


Hey remember that after I re did the bogs this summer I decided to mulch them.   BAD idea!  That beautiful layer of pine bark mulch translated into fall time squirrel bait!  They come in droves from every yard in the neighborhood to bury their nuts in my light fluffy bog soil!  I swear they put up a sign “Easy to dig soil in this guys yard!”  As you can see in the photos above, the peat sand media is exposed and “rotortilled” into the mulch compliments of the squirrel army.  I’m sure I’ve lost of plants or seedlings or drosera or something… Some spots were a real mess!

Anyway, with such a great day, it gave me the opportunity to get all the autumn outdoor cleanup done and a final grass cut to boot!  Of course, that meant getting a good start into cleanup up the bogs.

Todays task was to cleanup all the leaves in the bog gardens.  I used the leaf blower to blow out the loose stuff, then used the the leaf sucker, to suck up what ever else was left, and finally, used my hands to remove anything else I could find.  So why worry!  They’re just leaves right!?  Well, there are a few things that are a problem… decaying deciduous tree leaves are not a good thing for an outdoor bog garden, it generally raises the the ph of the soil and as the leaves break down , they adds nutrient to the soil. Not to mention when they get all wet and compressed, they promote rot and mold! and don’t let air reach the plants… so as a rule, I try to remove as many leaves as possible before putting my plants to bed for the winter.

Notice the pitchers are still on the plants.  That’s the way they are staying for the winter.  In previous posts, I’ve talked about my experiments cutting them to the ground, cutting them halfway and leaving them… as it turns out, leaving the leaves on has been the best choice for maintaining the health of the plants.  Those bits of decaying bugs in the leaves, and the chlorophyl that is in the leaves gives the plant a good boost into growth in early spring.  As the new strong pitchers take over, I will cut off the old growth!


So, with the impending winter in mind, I’ve got 5 bales of pine needles coming next week.  I likely won’t be using them for a bit..  like I’ve said many times… as long as the temperatures are generally above freezing during the day, I like to keep the plants exposed to light and open air as long as possible before covering them up for winter.  The way thing are looking at this point, that will still be a few weeks away or more.


Here is a quick view of the Flytrap garden.  As you can see, its had a few frosts hit it, and an army of squirrels rooting around. I’m thinking that this is going to need a replant in the next couple of years.

As has become a custom as the end of the bloggin season draws near, I post a picture of the last flowers of the season.  Gentiana autumnalis starts blooming for me in the middle of October and continues until a good hard freeze.  This year I’m especially happy to see this flower bloom.  During my bog re-do, I dug them all up and moved them around.   At the time, I wasn’t sure if any of them survived the transplant, clearly, this one did:-)

The color is bit off… outside today, the flower is pure blue!



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