Up, Down All Around!


I suppose by now everyone has heard about the record snowfall south of me in Buffalo NY. Its incredible to think that some folks got over 7 feet of snow in a few days!  Here in Niagara Falls, we got 6 inches! (That pic above is from Buffalo!)

Anyway, its been a temperature roller coaster around here, record cold temperatures all over north america a few days back and today, we’re sitting at 16C (61 F)… the 6 inches we got is long gone!

On the weekend it warmed up, so I figured I’d take advantage of that and put my plants to bed for the season before before we more snow!

This year I decided to go middle of the road in terms of cutting the plants back.  A couple years ago, I weed whacked them all to the ground, and realized that doing that set the plants back in the spring… so last year I left all the leaves and even with the bad winter they did very well… This year, I got the weed whacker out and cut them down to about 8 inches. This way the plants that really don’t like be cut back to nothing, like purpurea and psittacina are not impacted by the cutting, even most of the phylodia producing plants still have most of their phylodia.


After the blowing out the excess debris and oak leaves… I gave them their winter blanket of pine needles.  Not really sure what sort of protection these are going to afford anyway, its a very thin layer. I was hoping to buy some more this year, but I was informed by the place that I purchase them that they were out of stock and wouldn’t have any more till spring.


And so ends the 2014 growing season.  Once again its been a great year.

Next year will bring a new experience for me… changing the soil in the bogs.  I think its been 4 years now since I put these bogs in. The peat slowly breaks down over time, and eventually becomes toxic to the plants.  Like potted plants need new media from time to time, bog gardens too need to have their soils refreshed. So I think next spring, I’m going to change out the soil!

This is also good opportunity to divide plants up and thin them out.  I have found when plants get too clumped, their vigor slows…   The other thing is that this will give me an opportunity to re-catalog my collection, something that is long over due.

I’m hoping my friend in the southern hemisphere will send me photos from time to time so I can post them here to give us northern hemisphere dwellers something to look at while our plants are sleeping!


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14 Responses to Up, Down All Around!

  1. Michael says:

    Woooo weeeee you dodged a bullet there eh !! But we know, it’s only a matter of time !! Good thing you got the bogs covers before u eventually get dumped on !! Good growing ! & can’t wait for spring 🙂

  2. Jay Lechtman says:

    I may regret this next spring, but I’d be happy to come up and help you change out the soil and divide/replant, etc. I could think of far worse working vacations.

  3. Carl Mazur says:

    Ya you may regret it! I might take you up on it!

  4. Mary Jane Mazur says:

    Kind of sad seeing the plants go to sleep, however, look what you can look forward to come spring – another year of beauty.


  5. John Nielsen says:

    Looking good, and best of luck with changing out the peat – at least you don’t have to do it as frequently as a potted collection!

  6. Julian says:

    “I’m hoping my friend in the southern hemisphere will send me photos from time to time….”
    You got it. No sweat.

  7. Josh says:

    Just spotted the note you made about changing the soil for the gardens (my, what an undertaking that must have been!), and thought I’d ask if you’ve considered trying pure sphagnum moss for the top 1/2 of one of the gardens, or at least whatever portion of the garden is above the water table. My theory is sphagnum moss may break down slower than peat moss if kept above the water table, while the peat/whatever underneath is used to wick the water up to the sphagnum. Couldn’t this method cut down the hassle of soil-changing a large bog by extending the longevity of the growing media?

    • Carl Mazur says:

      Josh, sorry, I think you misread, I’m planning on changing the media this year! I haven’t yet! Reason being… like you say, its a huge undertaking! As for your thoughts… the problem is not the top… the water is 4-6 inches below the surface… so that soil is fine… its the peat that’s in the permantly wet deeper down that eventually starts to rot which sours the soil. So, regardless whether I use sphagnum or peat sand in the upper layers… I still need to get to the bottom to change it out.

      • Josh says:

        Oh sorry, haha. I was under the impression you would have that done before this spring. And yes, I’m glad you brought up the below water soil rot issue! The idea I have is a little drawn out, but bear with me. 😉

        What if – below the hypothetical Sphagnum moss – you replace the peat moss with non-degradable Styrofoam packing/chunks to compose the layer that sits below the water line, similar to John Brittnacher’s “Display Sarracenia on your deck” tutorial? In addition to this, incorporate a number of foam sponge columns (some kind of sponge material that can be cut to this shape) staggered evenly apart in amongst the Styrofoam. Position these in such a way that each column extends from the very bottom of the bog up to a height that leaves it poking out of the Styrofoam layer and into the top soil layer by about 5 cm. (The sponges act as wicking columns, see?)

        With that in mind, I see you said the water is 4-6 inches below the surface (do the Dionaea mind?). For that reason I could understand the Styrofoam layer being lower so as to allow for more soil height for the plants’ roots.

        I don’t mean to sound like I’m telling you what to do, I’m actually brain storming ideas for something I could do, albeit on a smaller scale. I just wanted to run some ideas by the experts to see if there’s any glaring holes in my plan ;D Of course, that’s not until I have enough to comfortably finance a suitable bog garden, and I finish trialling a Flytrap in my now almost non-existent coastal Queensland winter. Fingers crossed the little guy actually goes dormant. =s

  8. Carl Mazur says:

    It sounds like a good idea… I think you should try it. I’m not sure how that work in blistering cold winters here! Also on a large scale it might be much more expensive than using regular peat and sand. But for containers… I think it sounds great.

    • Josh says:

      Have to agree, Sphagnum alone here in Australia would set me back an arm and a leg considering our sky high labour fees and pathetic dollar. Your method is probably best for your situation, but I can’t imagine those peat moss bales being very cheap. I have no idea where I’d even find those kind of volumes where I live.

      I’ve been looking at a number of different bog builds and I’ve got to ask, why do so many only leave a couple of inches of soil above the water table? There’s lots of testimonies for Dionaea succumbing to rot if their roots are constantly left below water, and yet so many growers seem to be able to have them thriving in said setups, so they’re certainly doing something right.

      Anyway thank you very much for taking some time to share your experience.

      • Carl Mazur says:

        I have to say, I don’t have an answer about the water table question. I’ve seen VFTs in the wild, and I’ve seen them very wet, but they don’t stay that way, the soil drains… in fact in my experience, they don’t like to be soaking wet for any long periods of time. Although my bogs have drains about 4 inches below the surface, this is only to get rid of excess water when we get heavy rains. I usually let my bogs dry to moist (wet media but no high water table), if we don’t get rain… this allows oxygen to the roots. And if we still don’t rain, and it dries too much, I’ll flood it, but I’ve found from experience, at least where we are, most summers, we get enough rainfall that I don’t have to water often.

        I think being soggy all the time, for vfts or Sarracenia, is really a bad thing in a closed environment like a bog garden or a container bog. I know it sounds weird, but you can actually drown the plants.

      • Josh says:

        True, soil oxygenation seems to benefit just about all terrestrial plants, even north American carnivores. In fact, people in two threads on separate forums believe this to be one of the reasons that a selection of flytraps seemed to grow faster in pure Sphagnum compared to peat.

        Haven’t read too many of your latest posts yet, but I hope to learn more from them and others to come in the near future. Happy growing!

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