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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8 Responses to Guess what I got for Christmas? an El Nino!

  1. Michael says:

    Wow eh !!! Can’t believe the temps here’s hoping this mild winter won’t kill any Sarracenia, I lost a couple last year so fingers crossed & have a Merry Christmas & happy new year 🙂

  2. Mary Jane Mazur says:

    What a way to end 2015. I have enjoyed your blogs very much and will look forward to receiving them in 2016. Keep growing your plants with the same love you always have, a mere beginning with the good old Venus Fly Trip. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


  3. Tim says:

    I am one of those who just found your blog this year.. It has helped me to grow these guys..
    Thank YOU
    Tim Wilson

  4. Jerec says:

    Though only anecdotally, I can testify to VFTs going dormant in my area which got up to 24°C during the past winter months, at least so far as making slow growing, rosette petioles. Only very few nights got down to 3° in winter, the rest were higher. I attributed my “success”, at least in part to artificially cutting back the amount of direct sun the pot got from the already shortened photo period, resulting in no more than 5 hrs/day. Mind you this was only my first year growing them in this location, so time will tell if my plant can store enough energy during the off seasons for long term longevity. Since spring my (now) many plants have divided and are currently pushing up larger summer traps on upright petioles.

    And yes I found your blog this year. 😀

  5. Lois M. Ochs says:

    Thanx so much for having this blog. I have learned so many things from you i.e. the difference between flava and oreophila. You are having a warmer winter than we are. At least we are starting to get some much needed rain. some of my vfts,in my cold frame still have not gone dormant. May you and yours have a very happy, healthy, and blessed New Year. 🙂

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