In my last post, I was talking about some of my plants being less vigorous this year. The first issue is the recurring thrip issue with a few of my plants. As my friend Jay suggested, this is indicative of a weak plant, or a plant in declining health as these little buggers tend to attack plants that are not healthy. This was clear because a healthy vigorous plant is right next door to a weak thrip infested plant! So I’m working at clearing them up. So what else is going wrong?
Ok… in a few of my posts here I’ve mentioned about the need to trim back plants, removing dead leaves etc. This is important to maintain plant health. However, you can go overboard… Let me explain.
A couple of times since my plants have been outdoors, I’ve decided to use a weed whacker to cut the plants back. My logic on this was to cut off all the previous seasons growth and let the plants get a fresh start. Made sense I suppose! However, in doing this I have set back a number of my plants severely. This courtii in the photo above normally looks like this in very early spring… It just starting to grow and pitcher now. Many of my other plants are just as set back if not worse! Why? because I cut them to the ground, removing ALL the leaves. This weakens the plants and make it susceptible a number of issues, not to mention trips and scale! This “scalping” is particularly bad for “evergreen” Sarracenia.
S. purpurea and psittacina are considered evergreen, S. minor and rubra to some extent. Other species loose their “leaves”, like flava and leuco, but create phylodia. In early spring, plants with phylodia rely on these leaves for photosynthesis to get themselves started. By hacking them to the ground like I did, I essentially removed a huge source of power to help bring the plant out of dormancy and start the flower and trap production! With plants like purpurea, psittacina, minor and rubra their evergreen traps not only are used to photosynthesize in the early spring, they also contain prey from the previous season that they continue to absorb, again, giving them that early season boost to get them growing and flowering! So you can see why cutting them all to the ground this spring was a very bad thing! So next year, NO EARLY SEASON TRIMMING!!!! After my friend Jay uncovers his bogs in the spring, he just leaves everything, after the plant is well into growth, he then removes and dead plant material by hand NOT WITH A WEED WHACKER!
I know this to be true, because on years where I didn’t hack them to the ground, the plants have been much more vigorous and “normal”.