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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Bed-Time is Coming Soon


Well I woke to my first roof frost of the season this morning, and a chilly 2C… Not far from me there are bands of lake effect snow falling!  It will certainly not last… as you can see on the graphic, Monday is suppose to reach 13C and Tuesday up to 16C, but today is just a taste of what’s to come in the not too distant future.  It’s time to start thinking about getting the ol’ bogs ready for winter!

In the next few weeks, I’m getting some pine needless for my bogs.  Like always, come the middle to end of November (or later depeding on weather) I plan to cover my bogs with 10-20cm of pine straw.  A side note: My friend around the corner… didn’t cover his outdoor bogs with ANYTHING last winter and his plants faired just fine!  It was the COLDEST February on record for these parts! The key however was the snow cover!  We had a good snow cover! This winter might not be so cooperative in the snow department.

This winter, we are expecting an strong El Nino. Its supposed to last the winter and into the spring… what does that mean for us? temperature are supposed to be significantly above average… andat the same time significantly less precipitation.  This means temperatures could fluctuate above and below freezing a lot.  With little snow… this might be an issue… so erring on the side of caution, I’m going to cover my bogs with the needles.  The pine needs don’t really “insulate” like snow does, however, it does keep the sun of the surfaceof the bogs and off the plants, stopping the plants from warming!  That’s good in mid-late winter if there is no snow and bright sun.  Keeping the sun out, keeps the bogs frozen, so if we do get a mild winter, it will buffer the effect of wild temperature fluctuations. But the most important thing the straw does is stop the cold drying winds from “freeze drying” the plants when there is no snow cover!

While on the topic of pine straw, I have people ask me if they should cover their bogs with pine needles or not.  It really depends on what your winter conditions are like. If you live somewhere, where you’re guaranteed a snow cover all winter, I wouldn’t worry about it, but if you live in a place where the winter temps fluctuate above and below freezing and snow cover isn’t a guarantee… its a good idea.


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Before… After!

Well its been a while since I’ve posted anything here.  Sorry for that!

My bog “repotting” was a success!  After many hours of work, I was able to replace the top 12 or so centimeters of media and mix the new stuff in with some of deeper soil.  Each plant (clump) was removed, divided and a portion of it replanted.  Many thanks to all the people who purchased up most of my extras!  I hope they all found good homes and do well for you.  The best thing! This will last me for another four or so years!!!

Here is what the first bog looked like before…


And here is the same bog after the replant.  Its been a slow recovery, but all in all everything is looking good.  If you notice, I top dressed the surface with shredded, natural, cedar bark. Hopefully this will help keep the weeds down.


I didn’t take before and after photos of the other bogs… pretty much the same story.

Here are just a few random shots of some of the fall foilage.  This first one is an AF version of the cultivar bug scoop.


Here is my DCXL apparenlty both of these are DCXL from tissue culture, they’re both big, but the coloration is different.  Not sure how they could be clones?

dcxl alata afbugschoop redcat purp leuco hummer


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Another Guest Bog!

So I visited a friend and a fellow Niagara Falls Sarracenia grower the other day to see his bog garden… As you can see in the photos, its quite large and uses the same contruction method I used pretty much.  You can see the drains that are installed to remove excess water after heavy rains.

Although he had some plants in there, he needed many more to fill it up, so after visiting my plants sale this summer, he has offically a full bog garden… This is going to look amazing in the years to come.  He has also muched it, as did this year.  I’m hoping this significantly reduce the weeding.


Here is another view


His back yard is very nicely landscaped and boasts a beautiful water feature, a natural place to add a bog garden.  He plans to build another bog in a different location in his yard.



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