Up Down All Around


I know… that’s not a Sarracenia… it is a North Carolina bog iris… very cool plant, stands only 10-15 cms off the ground. It is a great companion plant for the bogs, it adds a nice splash or color.

As the title implies, the temperature have been up down and all around.  Some days have been nice and warm 27-32C, others have not got warmer than 14C. Some mornings have been a low as 5C, other mornings I drove to work it was 22C… absolutely crazy!  Regardless, things have been moving forward. The spring Sarracenia bloom is well underway…



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A little nostalgia

The first place that I’d ever seen Carnivores in the wild was in a bog near Puslinch Ontario. Not too far from me… maybe an hour drive or so.  The bog had a healthy population and Sarracenia purpurea, bog orchrids and scattered Drosera rotundifolia and likely some Utricularia species… though I can’t be certain.  I was 10 years old or so when my father took me up there for the first time. I don’t quite remember how we found out about it… I think a friend of my Dad.  Regardless,  I will always remember seeing and touching the leaves of S. purpurea for the first time… marvelling at their texture and the fact that this was a carnivorous plant!

It was a beautiful location, open and sunny.  Over the years, I took the odd trip back there… and one year I collected some seed and grew out some plants as well as shared the seed in the CP community… so if you have Sarracenia purpurea from Puslinch, Creiff bog, or maybe even labeled Wellington Co. Ontario, they are likely from those seeds!

I haven’t seen that bog in a long time… in fact, I think the last time I was there was a time when I was being interviewed on location, as part of cutaway sequence to be used on TV show I was on that did a feature on growing Carnivorous Plants… I’m thinking that was in the early 2000’s. I remember then, noting that the Sarracenia population was in decline and the bog was becoming overgrown.

I found myself driving very close to that location last week, and figure for old time’s sake, I’d take a slight detour and visit.  I didn’t have time to explore to see if there were still plants there… but if there are, they are likely very scattered now and not in the best of shape.  I did however take a picture of the bog as its seen today.  I wish I had photos from my child hood to post in comparison but I don’t, suffice it to say, I was taken aback by how much it has grown over, even since my last visit 15 years ago.


Standing at this same point 40 years ago, you would see the stream, and no trees on the left or right…


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A taste of summer!


May 12, 2015…the first flowers are starting to open.  Sarracenia flava are always the first!

Now after all the complaining about how “set back” we were because of the cold winter… I’m going to hazzard a guess that if looked back over my posts… I’m pretty much on time now as far as spring goes… or … maybe even a bit ahead of “normal”!  What happened?  A taste of summer!

The last week in particular has been VERY warm here, setting new records in the past few days.  We’ve been seeing temperatures in the high 20’s, low 30’s C (83-90F)…unreal for this time of year.  We went from looking like early spring a week ago, spring flowers, leaves cracking on the trees, to almost fully leafed out and looking pretty much like summer!  However, that has been here in Niagara Falls, away from the Lakes.  If you find us on a map, we are away from Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie… places along the lakes didn’t enjoy the same heat!  for instance, at my home on Sunday late afternoon, it was 27C (81F), we drove out to Niagara on the Lake so the kids could walk around on the beach and skip rocks in the water… it didn’t last long!  The temperature there was 15C (59F). Amazing how the lakes have such an influence…

But alas, the warmth was short lived!  A cold front, with storms came through last night, dropping temperatures to below normal for today and the next day or two… but it was a great prelude to things to come! Looking forward to Summer!


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Hey!… it’s Hay!

Like that old phrase goes, “there more than one way to skin a cat”… funny, as I typed that I’m sitting here wondering where that came from? Odd… anyway, there’s also more than one way to winter Sarracenia in cold climates.  Here is another method…

These photos came from a chap in northern New Jersey.  He grows his plants potted in these large containers.  Using hay, he built himself a “fortress” around his containers to shelter his plants.


As you can see, the plants came though beautifuly!


Thanks so much for allowing me to share these…


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A Successful First Winter – Thanks to the Pink Box!


Man… I can remember the apprehension I felt the first winter I put my plants outside! There were points where I thought I was nuts! For 30 years, I had grown my Sarracenia collection in a greenhouse of some shape or form.  Granted I’m not gonna lie, I did have a couple small outdoor turtle pool bogs over the years. However, my “good” plants never went out there! I planted these with “extras” in case they were killed during the winter! But moving an entire collection outdoors to be at the mercy of the elements with no “backups” in a greenhouse was downright scary!

In my situation, I have made huge outdoor bog gardens to host my collection, but what if, you don’t want giant bogs, or don’t have room, or don’t want that sort of permanency and would rather grow your collection potted… and you don’t have a greenhouse!  Can you still winter your plants successfully outdoors? The answer is resounding YES!

A long time friend and fellow Sarracenia grower Jay, has been wintering his plants in a pink box in his unheated garage for years.  I’ve been meaning to blog about it… for whatever reason.. just haven’t! Luckily, I know another grower who is new to Sarracenia and wanted to winter his collection outdoors (in pots).  So I suggested the “pink box” and Michael and he gave it a try… I’m happy to report, his collection is alive and well.

I asked him to recount his experience:

I trimmed the plants and put the plants to sleep on NOVEMBER 20th 2014. I woke them up April. 1, 2015. (the opening closing really depends on the weather!)

I made a box out of 1.5 inch pink insulation. All the pieces around the box and including the top were 1.5 inches thick, except for the bottom where I added extra piece (making it 3 inches” as the garage floor gets cold.  I used outdoor calking to seal the seams.  I put the plants (Sarracenia & Venus fly traps) that were in biggest pots around the outside of the box and the smaller ones going in towards the middle. For fungicide I sprayed (crowns) with Safer’s neem oil first  then I used sulphur powder generously all over the remainder of the leaves & soil,  I then put two layers of burlap over the plants and then covered them with 24 inches of pine needles. Then I put the lid one.

I stored the box in a detached garage with no heat, so the temps in the garage were as low as outside just without the windchill, I had a thermometer in the middle of the pine needles the temps in the box when I opened it was -5 to -8C. However, the temps were much colder than that during the coldest days of our winter.

Here is a photo of one of his VFT’s as it came out of the box.  Looks great!


Here is a photo of Michael’s growing setup and what his plants looked like after coming out of the box. Again, they look great!  Congrats on your success and I hope this inspires others who want to grow potted/outdoors year round!



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Spring? is it finally here?


Here we are, 7th day of April and its looking like the middle of March! Actually, its been feeling like the middle of March as well… actually maybe not even that good! We even had snow flurries here on Easter Sunday!  Felt like wishing everyone a Merry Christmas instead! None of it stuck… but really!?

My long time friend John Hummer sent me an email the other day with a link to the 6-10 day temperature outlook from  National Weather Service. For the first time in a long time, we were in the “orange” this means we’re likely to experience temperatures at or above seasonal averages! Of course, this depends on how “orange” we are on the map! The darker the orange, the more propable it will be warmer than average!  I sometimes post these maps from time to time… Anyway, feeling possitive, I decided to take a look at the 10 day forecast… wasn’t exceptional… but pretty much seasonal and slightly above. It actually looks like spring is finally in the air!

As for the bogs, in my last post I mentioned that I finally took off the majority of the pine needles.  Over the last few days, I’ve been cleaning up the left over needles and loose stuff (leaves, branches, rabbit nests! acorns and whatever else I find).  I’ve also been pulling off any completely dead leaves and pushing any plants that have heaved up at all back down into the soil. Unlike last year, I had very few plants come up… everybody pretty much stayed put. Once things warm up and the plants start growing, I will go through thoroughly and cut off any dead folliage.


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The season officially starts … FINALLY


Well… it’s a start!  Finally I made the decision to start the process of opening up the bogs for the 2015 growing season.  I’m not going to sit here and harp about how cold and snowy this winter was or how it was relentless or how we’re at least two weeks or more behind… I’m going to focus on the positive!  Everything looks just fine!  AMAZING!  Coldest February EVER recorded in Niagara and the plants look fresh an healthy!  Guys and Gals…. I’m convinced these plants are very, VERY hardy!  So those of you who have been fearing making the move to outdoor culture, make 2015 the year to make the leap!!!!

So, as you can see, there is a lot of work to be done.  I basically just removed the bulk of pine needles.  There are still lots of needles that need to be cleaned and dead material that should be removed, but for now… its good, gets sun to the soil, and air circulating around the plants… Keeping the needles on too long will encourage mold and fungus as temps warm… What I look for is a 10 day forecast where the temps do not fall much below -2C (28F) at night and the days are consistently above freezing!  This week is that week.


as you can see in the photos… I did chop the plants down a little last fall with the weed whacker, but did not cut them to the ground.  This way plants with phylodia, still have them and the pitcher bases that still have decomposing bugs stay on the plants.  As they emerge from dormancy, the decaying insects in the tubes provide some food for the winter starved plant.  Keeping the phylodia is important too. The phylodia producing species use these flat leaves to catch the early spring sun and get the photosynthesis happening as the providing food as the plants emerge from dormancy. So don’t cut them off… keep them on!

The other spring project, is squirrel proofing my Flytraps!  For now, I just layed some chick wire down.  I will be making a frame that will hold the wire up about 6 inches off the surface so that the VFT’s grow, and still be protected from the squirrels.  After a month or so, the squirrels seem to leave the bogs alone again… at that point, I will remove the mesh!


I’m really looking forward to the new growing season!


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