June 10, 2014
My New Collection Of Pitcher Plants
Last month, I went to Sharon, Connecticut to shop at Trade Secrets, my favorite rare plant and garden antiques sale. As usual, I found many fabulous plants and objects. I was drawn to one vendor, in particular, who was selling assorted Sarracenia, or pitcher plants. Sarracenia is a kind of carnivorous plant, meaning they trap and consume animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. I find carnivorous plants fascinating and Sarracenia are also quite beautiful to look at, and I had just the right place to display them.
1 These are the assorted Sarracenia, that I purchased at Trade Secrets. Sarracenia, or North American pitcher plants, are native throughout the east coast, from northern Florida through the New England states and the eastern provinces of Canada.
2 These unusual bog plants get their name from their pitcher-shaped leaves.
3 These carnivorous plants capture insects by producing nectar along the rim of their pitchers. When an insect starts to lick up the nectar, it tries to get more by reaching into the pitcher, which usually results in a loss of footing and falling straight in!
4 Once inside the pitcher, the insect is met with a sticky, waxy footing and downward-pointing hairs, making retreat impossible.
5 Upon entering the lowest region of the tube, the insect finds itself in a pool of liquid containing digestive enzymes and wetting agents, which quickly drowns the prey and begins digestion.
6 The operculum, or hood of the pitcher, shields the pitcher opening, preventing rain from excessively filling the pitcher, which would result in the loss of prey. The operculum uses a combination of color, scent, and downward-pointing hairs to lure insects toward the trap entrance.
7 This is the unopened flower of Sarracenia 'Snowflake'.
8 The plan was to plant the Sarracenia in two long water troughs located at the entrance to my greenhouse. The cyperus, a type of aquatic sedge, which had been growing in the troughs, had become extremely overgrown.
9 Wilmer got busy dividing the cyperus from the smaller of the two troughs.
10 He thinned the roots by slicing through with a knife.
11 He also cut off the mature growth, leaving the young, newer shoots.
12 These small, divided cyperus will be replanted with the pitcher plants.
13 The second trough was emptied.
14 Wilmer managed to lift the entire overgrown plant up and out of the trough.
15 He made larger divisions of this one.
16 This is headed to the compost pile.
17 Wilmer potted up the larger divisions in big plastic pots.
18 Meanwhile, Ryan put a row of bricks in the troughs
19 The bricks were to set the pitcher plant pots on, raising them slightly above water level.
20 To weigh the pots down a bit, he also added a bit of gravel.
21 He then began arranging the pitcher plants and cyperus in the troughs.
22 To complete the look, Ryan dampened sphagnum moss in water.
23 The moss was draped around the plants, hiding the pots. This is the large trough.
24 And this is the small one. I love the way these look!
25 To keep the potted cyperus alive, Wilmer submerged the pots in the little pond.
26 The cyperus will be happy here all summer until we decide what to do with them in the autumn, as they will not winter over.