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PunkRotten
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Carnivorous plant terrarium

Hi,

When I grow carnivorous plants I give them a pot and then sit that pot in a larger dish/pan filled with distilled water. I have had success with this. Anyway, I have seen lots of pics online of people growing carnivorous plants in terrariums. I would like to try it but wouldn't know if I should use the typical layers they use in terrariums or the typical potting mix for carnivorous plants. I also see that in some of these terrariums they grow moss or other plants with the carnivorous plants. Does anyone have any insight on how to go about growing them in terrariums and with what type of plant I could pair them with? By the way, the terrarium I have in mind is just a cookie jar size or similar, not like a fish aquarium. Thanks

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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

I've never grown carnivorous plants in a terrarium, but I do grow venus flytraps (from seed -- not from plants collected out of their natural habitat). A consideration that comes immediately to mind would be the fact that you can't/shouldn't put any kind of fertilizer in the 'soil'. Carnivorous plants get their nutrients from what they eat and anything in the soil could harm or kill them. You'd have to pair them with something else that doesn't need nutrients in the soil, yes? If the paired moss gets its nutrients from the air, that would work as a pairing.

I grow mine in peat moss thoroughly rinsed with rain water. In the terrarium, you'd have to give consideration to drainage so the 'soil' doesn't get soggy.

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applestar
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Cool! 8) Are they easy to grow from seeds?
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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Well, I think they're very easy, but they are picky about conditions (but that's true of any seed). The reason I make it a point to mention that I grow them from seed is it's frowned upon to remove plants from their natural habitat as their numbers are dwindling in the wild.

The seeds and the plants need a growing medium devoid of nutrients. Fertilizer will kill them. The growing medium is only needed to give the roots something to hang onto. Straight spagnum moss or peat moss or half-and-half with perlite thoroughly rinsed with rain water is recommended. (I don't know about coir. I haven't tried it.) Only use distilled water or rain water. Tap water -- both city water and well water -- can kill them depending on what's in the water. The seeds like to be warm to germinate (90 to 95 degrees F is fine) but the plant itself doesn't need to be kept that warm. Once the little flytraps develop traps, if it doesn't have little tiny bugs to eat, you can feed them bloodworms like are available as fish food. I like the freeze-dried worms. I reconstitute a little piece of the freeze-dried-worm wafer, then roll the worms into little meat balls that I can feed the traps using a toothpick.

I've gotten seeds from both seedrack.com and flytrapcare.com with good results.

Here's my latest batch of babies. There are ten flytraps in a SIP I made from a two-liter bottle. Some are green, some are red, some are green with red traps.
Image
Last edited by Allyn on Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PunkRotten
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

I got a few tropical pitchers (nepenthes), 1 sundew (drosera) and one venus flytrap. I bought them from a local nursery that tissue cultures them. I have grown other carnivorous plants in the past with success. I found some seeds from some kit a long time ago. There are two seed packets and they list like 10 species ranging from flytraps, American pitchers and some sundews. There are different instructions on how to sprout each packet. One says to wet the mixture in the baggy with water and then place in the fridge for 6 weeks. Then take it out and spread it on a substrate and keep moist and cover to maintain humidity. The other says to just spread seeds lightly on substrate, keep moist and cover to maintain humidity. It also says that it takes several weeks to a few months for sprouts.

These seeds are what actually made me consider a terrarium for them. The one problem with pairing them with moss is I am not sure moss likes to be constantly wet like the carnivorous plants. They like to be moist but not in a saturated potting mix (unless my understanding is wrong). When I look at carnivorous plant terrariums online they actually look sorta dry. That is, there is no water sitting in it or at the bottom. I guess the trick is maintaining the right amount of moisture and humidity. That is why it is a little more tricky and not necessarily how carnivorous plants are traditionally grown.

And of course there is the potting soil. Carnivorous plants are pretty fussy about what they are grown in. And I also think mosses can add nitrogen into the soil which may be bad for the carnivorous plant. I don't know I just look at the pics online of these terrariums and wonder how/why it is successful because it is not quite how they are traditionally grown.

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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Another thing to keep in mind when looking at the terrarium route is you'll want to keep it out of direct sunlight, but because flytraps are sun worshippers, you'll need good artificial lighting. In a glass enclosure, even if the top isn't covered, direct sunlight could very easily cook the roots.

You say the terrariums are successful, but do you know for certain? For some folks, carnivorous plants are disposable. They create a habitat and as long as the plant grows, fine; but as soon as it dies, they replace it. Are you sure the pictures you see of the terrariums aren't just "photo ops" that look nice at the moment, but aren't successful long-term?

Flytraps aren't swamp plants. They like constant, even moisture (which is why the SIP is ideal), but they don't like to be soggy.

I mention that I grow them from seed, but I also advocate cloning and hand pollination to produce seed. Whatever method does not include removing plants from the wild is okay with me.

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applestar
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Thanks @allyn. I'm totally inspired and will check out the sources you mentioned. 8)

My problem is keeping them alive over the winter but if I can grow them from seeds, i could experiment a little. And your "bloodworm meatballs" sounds do-able. :D

It looks like I could start them in same conditions when I start the peppers.
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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Another thing occurred to me. I hear folks say they can't grow flytraps or that the flytraps don't survive the winter, but they don't know that the flytraps go dormant in the winter, triggered by the shorter days. The plant might even turn black and seem to die back when it goes dormant. Cool nighttime temperatures -- between 40 degrees F and maybe 55 F at night -- and short daylight are needed for a couple of months so the flytraps have a dormancy period. How would you accommodate the flytraps in a dormancy peroid if you have them paired with other plants in a terrarium?

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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

applestar wrote:...My problem is keeping them alive over the winter but if I can grow them from seeds, i could experiment a little. ....

Ah! Then my previous post about dormancy probably applies to you. :) There is a method to overwinter the flytraps bare-rooted in the produce bin of the refrigerator that I'm thinking about trying this year.

And what Punk said about it taking a long time for the seeds to sprout is right. The warmer they are, the shorter the germination time, but even then, it can take literally weeks.

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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

I tried a carnivorous plant terrarium once. We used aquarium activated charcoal in the bottom with a layer of sphagnum moss over it. The plants were set in the sphagnum moss. They did real good for about a month then we were invaded by fungus gnats which killed every plant. There are some good books written by people who raise and breed carnivorous plants. Peitropaolo is the author of the book we bought when we set up our terrarium.

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PunkRotten
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Yeah I have my flytrap outdoors. It's looking ugly and black right now but I know it needs the cold period. I've seen pics with snow on them and they come back later in the spring. They are a lot more hardy than people think. Even the American Pitchers (sarracenia) are cold hardy. But Applestar, check their maximum lowest temp they can handle. I don't think they can handle the cold where you are. I think they are only hardy to like zone 7.

Allyn,

Do baby carnivorous plants transplant well? Since I am starting some by seeds I was thinking of planting them and then not disturbing them when they spout because I was under the impression they do not transplant well.

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applestar
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

You are correct @punk -- I was successful overwintering them after they went dormant one year by putting them in a large insulated cooler over the winter in the unheated garage where it can get down to low 20's in the depth of the winter. Next year, we had an abnormally warm winter and I lost them -- they must have been too warm/not sufficiently dormant in the dark unsuitable environment.

I need to experiment more.... 8)
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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

PunkRotten wrote:...Do baby carnivorous plants transplant well? Since I am starting some by seeds I was thinking of planting them and then not disturbing them when they spout because I was under the impression they do not transplant well.
In the method I mentioned of overwintering them in the produce bin of the refrigerator, the guy takes all his flytraps out of the pots and stores them bare-rooted, so I'd say they do transplant well enough. I haven't done that myself, not yet anyway. The winters here are mild enough that I can just overwinter them outside in an unheated greenhouse. I have several flytraps that live inside under lights, so I have to force them to go dormant. I don't plant any in the ground, so I can't speak to that.

But to answer your question, yes I transplant them. I start groups of seeds -- maybe up to 20 -- in an oblong plastic container (think of a margarine container but oblong instead of round) with drainage/watering holes in the bottom and ventilation holes in the lid. When the plants get big enough, I move them to their 'permanent' home, which are individual SIPs.

The only trouble I've had is the first time I tried transplanting them, I was too impatient and tried to move them when they were very small. They would have transpanted well enough, but I used a toothpick to lift the little plant out of the 'incubator' and it fell off the toothpick and I couldn't find it or I picked up the plant with peat moss attached to its roots and instead of lifting out, it flipped over and landed back in the peat moss and I couldn't retrieve it. I lost three plants the first time I tried transplanting them, so I wait until they're a little bigger now before I move them. They're easier to handle and less likely to lose them. The rest of the plants in that batch transplanted just fine.

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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Just an FYI for anyone interested, the flytrap store has its grab-bag of hand-pollinated seeds in stock again. They were out of stock when I posted them as a seed source last week. It's my experience that they sell out fairly quick.

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applestar
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

Will you laugh if I said I went and ordered a packet immediately after reading your post?
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(...but, but...what about dialing down our seed budget...? HUSH! we have enough tomato and pepper seeds to last us for next five years. We just have to resist buying any of THOSE. :roll: )
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Allyn
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

applestar wrote:Will you laugh if I said I went and ordered a packet immediately after reading your post?
Laugh? Heck no. Will you laugh if I said I ordered a packet immediately before I posted it?

Seed budget? Yeah, like I need more flytraps.

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applestar
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Re: Carnivorous plant terrarium

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(ok I *am* laughing ... at both of us :wink: Thank you so much!! :D )
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