A bleak but beautiful photo; and the words sort of sum up how I’m feeling about the month of March! Thanks to blogger “seedbud” for this lovely post.
when spring seems
the farthest from home
it is March
A while back I wrote about our Bog full of carnivorous plants, including the strange little Venus Flytrap, in ” Creatures-from-the-Black-Lagoon/ “.
Last week my favorite blog, Botany Photo of the Day from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, featured the Venus Flytrap. It linked to a video of an insect being captured by the plant. I have spent plenty of time staring at Venus Flytraps but I don’t think I ever saw one in action. It’s really fast!
Technical ridiculousness prevents me from actually getting the video up, so here is the BPotD writeup, with the link:
“Today we have an image of Dionaea muscipula, by Anne Elliott (aka annkelliott@Flickr), who also provided the photo of the Oxalis for the series. A photograph of this species showing its completed nastic movement is available via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool: see Rob Co’s photograph of Dionaea muscipula. Thank you Anne and Rob for sharing your great shots!
To finish off the series on nastic movements, I couldn’t resist including Dionaea muscipula or the Venus flytrap. This species exhibits seismonasty or thigmonasty, which is the nastic movement due to a touch stimulus (see a video: Venus flytrap capturing prey). This type of nastic movement was also highlighted in the first entry of the series on Mimosa pudica.
Dionaea muscipula is native to North Carolina and South Carolina in the USA. Populations of plants recorded in New Jersey and Florida are often considered to be exotic introductions. Due to its special qualities, Venus flytrap is also a popular houseplant.
As noted above, Venus flytrap is a carnivorous species that traps and digests insects for a source of nitrogen. The modified leaves of this species consist of an upper and lower portion. The lower portion, a flat stalk, terminates with the two-lobed upper portion (with the lobes joined by the midrib). Each lobe is lined with comb-like bristles. The red-coloured centre of the trap contains three sensitive trigger hairs (seen clearly in Anne’s image). When stimulated by touch, the trap shuts by means of electrochemical signals. The trap may take several minutes to close fully. Once closed, it will remain so for 5-7 days in order for the plant to secrete enzymes and digest the insect (see: Volkov, AG et al. 2008. Kinetics and Mechanisms of Dionaea muscipula Trap Closing. Plant Physiology. 146(2):694-702).”
There are a number of Venus Flytrap videos on youtube but the one linked above ( Venus flytrap capturing prey ) on Wikipedia is by far the best one I’ve seen.
1.They like full sun.
2. Pot them up in sphagnum moss and sit the pot in a saucer of water. They need to be that wet, after all, they are bog plants. Don’t let them dry out. Change the water occasionally so it stays somewhat clean.
3. Don’t fertilize! A bog is a low fertility environment; that’s why the flytraps eat insects: to supplement their diet. Fertilizer will kill them!
4. Don’t feed them –they have evolved to feed themselves. Feeding will kill them.
5. Opening and closing takes a large amount of energy for the plant. If you touch it to make it close repeatedly, it will become weak and die.
6. From the Logee’s Greenhouse website: “Maintain a minimum temperature of 30°F . They prefer cool night temperatures for two months during the winter to induce a dormant period. Night temperatures in the high 30’s to low 40’s are ideal. A cool, neglected windowsill is perfect. During active growth, we keep them warm, above 60°, which speeds up growth.”
So, this is a houseplant that does well being left alone (except for water). If you are curious about other carnivorous plants or would like more information about the Flytraps, the International Carnivorous Plant Society can tell you everything you need to know, and more.
Ludisia discolor, the Jewel Orchid, is an orchid native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Burma. They are often cultivated for the beautiful, velvety-looking foliage (which doesn’t actually feel velvety at all). Ludisia discolor is a terrestrial orchid, which roots in soil. In it’s native habitat, it is found on the floor of the forest. They prefer high humidity and temperatures above 60F, but tolerate very low light. This makes them relatively easy to grow at home, or in a shady spot in the greenhouse. In addition to the deep maroon-green (is that a word?) leaves with pinkish veins, they have beautiful, delicate white flowers, and I was pleasantly surprised to see last week that they were beginning to flower.
To propagate Jewel Orchids, the fleshy stems can be nestled horizontally into the potting mix (well drained, please). They will also root in a glass of water. These little plants were repotted by Rachel back in June of 2012. They had been sulking for quite a while — I think the potting soil was not to their liking — and finally began to grow nicely after that.
Earlier this week Andy handed me a new seed catalog. I hadn’t gotten any in the mail yet and so I hadn’t started that delicious daydreaming about springtime, gardening, warm weather, and especially, seeds. So let the daydreaming begin, that’s what January is for if you’re a gardener. I adore seed catalogs; there is something so old fashioned about them. Pictures of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, with over-the top-descriptions of how tasty, productive and gorgeous they are! The earliest, sweetest peas, the best tomatoes you ever had, giant pumpkins. The biggest zinnias, the tallest sunflowers, and the most fragrant sweet basil! Not to mention that seeds are one of the best investments you can make. I’m a sucker for all of it, and being a little old-fashioned myself, I like the actual paper catalog in my hand, by the woodstove, with a cup of coffee.
Last fall I emptied my two giant cookie tins full of seeds and sorted them with a critical eye. I composted any which were more than three years old, and I was surprised at how many that was. Time to buy some new seeds. I’m looking at old favorites like Benary Giant Zinnias and Northeaster Pole Beans. I’ve only gone through the Johnny’s and High Mowing catalogs…impatiently awaiting Fedco (top favorite), and Territorial (they are selling wasabi plants!) and Cook’s Garden, and Nichols…. I found many enticing new-to-me varieties: Esterina cherry tomato, (“sweeter than Sungold and resists cracking”!) Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Calypso Pickling Cucumber. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower: stunning! Or how about Painted Lady Sweet Peas ( “This variety dates to 1737 and was planted by Jefferson at Monticello in the early 1800s.”). I have never had much luck with Sweet Peas –it gets too hot early on here –but I ‘m convinced I should try again…
As I said in this post, every year I plant seeds and every year I am thrilled and amazed when the seedlings push up through the soil. What are you daydreaming about this January?
Into the greenhouse — seems like the most reasonable option in the face of a “Polar Vortex”!