(Never forget 2015: My first attempt at this Mytake, taken from us so suddenly when I accidentally closed the window :( )
This is my first MyTake, so wish me luck :)
Okay, it's raining outside and I have nothing to do, so I'm going to talk to you about some of my favourite things, carnivorous plants!
Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Described by Charles Darwin as "...one of the most wonderful plants in the world", the Venus Flytrap is probably what comes to the minds of most people when they think of carnivorous plants. It consists of several leaves branching out of a central rhizome, each finishing with a jaw-like trap. Each trap produces sweet nectar to attract insects and has "trigger hairs" on the inside. It is these hairs that cause the trap to close. When one hair is touched, nothing happens. However when two hairs are touched, or the same hair twice, within twenty seconds, the trap suddenly closes shut. This makes it the only plant that can actually count! The flytraps struggling prey causes the trap to shut eve tighter, creating an airtight seal, and release digestive juices. Five to twelve days later, the trap reopens, and the husk of a dead insect is blown away or washed away by the rain.
Venus Flytraps are the only member of their genus and are endangered in the wild. I know we all did this as kids but don't put your fingers in the traps at garden centres!
Trumpet Pitcher (Sarracenia)
Sarracenia is a lot less active than the Venus Flytrap. They produce nectar at the rim of their tube shaped leaves. This attracts insects, which fall down the pitcher when they get too greedy. The extremely smooth inside surface, straight up escape path and downwards facing hairs all stop the insect from escaping. Once the insect dies from heat exhaustion or whatever it dies from, the pitcher plant gets to work, digesting it with more digestive juices and enzymes.
Trumpet pitcher are probably the easiest carnivorous plants to grow, however I personally think they are the most boring (I'm not saying they're not interesting though!). But you do get some lovely colours on them, like the red and white on the one in the picture above (insects like the colour red)
Coming in all shapes and sizes, Sundews are probably the lesser known carnivorous plant. Each leaf is covered in hair-like tentacles, each tipped with a drop of "dew". This dew has several purposes, some more fatal than others... First, it's sweet, to attract insects for prey. Once the insect lands on the plant, it's stuck. The second purpose is as a glue. As it struggles, the little tentacles slowly move towards the insect until part of the whole leaf is wrapped around it, smothering it in glue, blocking up the pores it uses to breathe, eventually suffocating it. The third purpose of the sticky dew is, you guessed it, as digestive fluid. Pretty cool, right?
There are WAY more carnivorous plants than the ones I've mentioned here, like Cobra Lillies, tropical pitchers, Bladderworts, Butterworts etc., but I'm going to move on beacuse of time restrictions, and because these three are the only ones I actually keep (I have a pair of each :) )
Keeping the plants
Most carnivorous plants, at least the ones I've talked about here, are bog plants. This means you can't water them with the water you give to other plants. The need rainwater or RO (reverse osmosis) water, with a very low nutrient content. Giving them anything else is likely to kill them. As they are bog plants, they need to be kept wet all the time. To do this, keep their pots standing in water at all times and NEVER let them dry out.
Again this is to do with them being bog plants. Their soil need to have little or no nutrients. Most carnivorous plant potting mixes contain sphagnum moss and horticultural sand (NOT builders sand). The moss holds a lot of water, recreating the boggy conditions, and the sand provides good drainage. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES give them normal compost or fertilizer, as this will kill them.
This is an important one. Carnivorous plant like light. Like, a lot of light. I'm talking major light. Light everywhere. To the point where there is basically no upper limit. They're going to need to be outside or in a sunny windowsill. The more light they get, the more energy they get. The more energy they get, the better they can deal with any mistakes you or I make.
Obviously one of the major selling point of carnivorous plants is that you get to give them thigs to kill or watch them kill things. However, you can easily overfeed your plant, they don't actually need much food to survive. That being said, they do need some, to replace the lack of nutrients in the soil. If you are going to keep them inside, you'll have to do the deed and feed them once or twice a month, maybe a little bit more if you want to. If they're outside, they can more or less catch food for themselves. If the weather is good, they can actually catch too much, so you might need to put them indoors for a bit. Don't go around feeding your weak plant to make it better. This will make it worse. If it doesn't have enough energy to digest it's food, the food will rot and the leaf will die and rot. So, not good. DO NOT be the retard who gives their plants meat, as whoever told you that they can eat meat is a fucking fraud. YOU WILL KILL THEM
This is a simple one. If you want flowers and seeds, go for it! However, you have to keep in mind that letting your plant flower uses a lot of energy, so it's best to just cut the developing flower away as soonas you see it. This is especially important for Venus Flytraps. Anyway, most carnivorous plants have quite underwhelming flowers (except Butterworts).
Like most plants, carnivorous plants have a three to four month dormancy period, starting in late autumn or early winter. This is when the plants stop growing, die back and store all of their energy underground. Don't throw away your plant because all of the leaves are gone! That happens sometimes but it's nothing to fear, your plant will grow back in the spring, good as new! During dormancy, the plants will need less water, so you can take them out of their tray and just water them little and often. Watch out for mold! Make sure the plant is still getting enough light, if it still has leaves. An ideal place would be a cold windowsill or a sheltered place outdoors, to protect the plant from the worst of the cold, if it gets super cold where you live. A dormancy period for your plant is vital if you want to keep it for more than a year. If the dormancy isn't triggered, next year's growth will be thin and weak, and the plant will probably die. Imagine if you din't get any sleep. How long would you last? Judging from what I've heard from you GAGers, probably not long.
Well, I think that's everything. If you want to know more than that brief overview I've given you here, I recommend you look online.
I hope you liked my Take! Feel free to leave a comment to tell me what I've missed, or share any knowledge you have (I know they're not carnivorous, but any tips on growing dragon fruit would be greatly appreciated) :)
Thanks for reading,