Drosera Capensis Alba

Last time I wrote that I would be bringing in a new addition, and here we are…

Drosera Capensis Alba

This beautiful contraption uses a sticky dew to catch its prey – as you see from above it is quite popular amongst the local flies.

It differs from other carnivorous plants in this way so it can take advantage of the dew that sweeps across our gardens each morning, however, I read online that leaving in direct sunlight too long can essentially “dry out” the plant. This is something I’ll have to monitor over the next few days so any advice you may have could prove vital.

It joins both Hector (Venus Fly Trap) and Henrietta (Nepenthes) on my balcony outside, although I may move the Drosera Capensis to another pot to avoid any weight or “overcrowding” issues.

Unlike other Drosera Capensis, the Alba variety is given this name because it keeps its lush green colour. As a result, I feel Jessica can be the only befitting name (there was also Jordi but you may not be familiar with him) for this carnivore.

As an insect becomes trapped in this sticky fluid, the plant will slowly begin to curl and close in on the prey. Above you can see this fly has just landed – in fact, if I could upload a video I would because it’s still alive and moving!

You can see the curvature at the top of the image (which I can just about count 4 flies) as this begins to close. None of the arms are at a fully curved stage so I’ll watch closely and ensure I get greater images for the next blog.

In terms of watering, treat it like other carnivores in the sense of giving it distilled water. I read that eventually Drosera Capensis produces flowers so it will not require too much watering – just keep the soil damp and you should be ok. Budding botanists online have advised that these are some of the easiest carnivores to look after!

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The Next Generation

We’ve come to an important part of my Venus Fly Trap’s life. As you see below there are many new leaves sprouting from within Hector’s roots, meaning that new heads will grow and they will take over the existing grown heads, which will now begin to decay.

New heads compete for the best spot for sunlight

This week I noticed 2 of the heads completely ignore food that wandered into its mouth, indicating that those heads are now decaying. Eventually they will wilt and brown but I shall trim them accordingly to ensure I keep the green leaves around so that they can pull in more sunlight.

You can see decay around the teeth here

The weather has been fantastic of late, it’s either blistering sunshine or intense rain and that helps Hector thrive. Although he is an indoor plant for me, I’ll often place him outside for a few hours if it rains.

It is important to not let the soil become too damp otherwise the heads will grow thin and weak.

Picture taken 8/5/16

Picture taken 12/5/16

As you can see between the images above, the plant is growing steadily and the new heads will take over in the next few weeks.

New heads are still beginning to sprout now

If you look closely you can see several heads under the leaf

Things are beginning to look a little overcrowded so I many need to consider a bigger pot. Any advice you might be able to give on repotting would be vital so please do leave a comment if you can.

From next week, I’m going to look at a more in depth analysis on how and why the Venus Fly Trap grows the way it does. From the intricate biology of the heads, to the benefits of being a carnivorous plant, we shall find out and get to know Hector in all his glory!

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We Have Growth!

Continuing our journey with Hector, The Venus Fly Trap, I’ve noticed some change in his appearance. The last 2 days have been particularly hot and not a cloud in the sky has given me pleasing results.

Notice the red tint to the head

If you pull up a Google search you’ll see that mature adult plants have almost fully red heads. This one of mine in particular is beginning to find its way and I discovered that the moss presents a challenge as they need to be kept damp, whereas the Venus prefers just a little dampness (note my previously blog on the topic of watering your plants).

You’ll see the moss has turned brown in parts

When moss is not kept moist enough this will turn brown or even white. It can also be seen as a blessing in disguise as this will help me find the perfect balance for how often I should be watering.

A Little Sprout of Life!

My most exciting feature of Hector the Venus is this little sprout that has popped up whilst I have been out of the house today. A sure sign of life and that things are going well in my mini-ecosystem and now we have a means to measure the progress as more heads begin to blossom.

Food

Venus’ are proudly efficient in catching their own food. I’ve not been concerned with how much or how often Hector will be eating as he will literally do the work himself. We’ve had a small variety of visitors, mostly flies, but I haven’t managed to capture anything live in action just yet.

Possible Flesh Fly


Possible St. Mark’s Fly


Eaten Snipe Fly

My knowledge of flies is still delicate (remember, we’re learning together) but I’ve taken sensible guesses as to what flies have been visiting and the Snipe Fly is most easily indentifiable due to its curved tail (apologies I know the images aren’t the best as I’m using an iPhone camera for now). I’ve had Hector for 3 weeks and this is the first meal I’ve spotted so don’t become too anxious if you don’t get any visitors at first.

You’ll notice I am taking a steady, laid back approach now Hector has been here a little while. You’ll naturally become more comfortable too and find your form.

I’ve got some exciting news for next week, and we will start to move away from plant life as the weeks go on but of course, will always have to monitor Hector and inform you of his progress. Bye for now!

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Water Care – Venus Fly Trap

I thought I’d dive straight in with an update of my Venus Fly Trap, or Hector as you may know him if you have seen the previous post on this blog.

This week, I plan on covering the topic of water care. I’ll go into grooming, pest control and other topics as we go further into Hector’s growth and development.

He’s been living with me for roughly a week and is living a steady life. Kept on the west side of the house so he can fully benefit from the evening sunset and photosynthesize late into the day. I will occasionally keep him in my bedroom, facing east, so he can also benefit from the morning sun. As I live on the first floor and there is little around me blocking light, Hector is able to fully benefit from both morning and evening sun.

I have not seen any dramatic changes in growth and the biggest challenge is ensuring your plants are receiving the correct water. Tap water is not the best choice for a Venus Fly Trap as they are quite demanding, despite Britain having one of the highest qualities of water in the world.

Unfortunately, this means that the water is often high in Chlorine (Cl) and Fluorine (F) components which are not beneficial to your plants health. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend high amounts of money on distilled or bottled water, there are a few tricks to the trade if you don’t wish to part with your hard-earned money.

I did some research and the obvious choice of water for your plant is rain water. North and South Carolina have somewhat similar conditions to Britain but if you have means to pot your Venus outside then do so. Although if there is the occasional dry spell, or your like me and not always around to collect rain water – fear not, tap water can actually turn into drinkable water for your plants.

I’d recommend filling up whatever sized bottle (or means of holding water) and leaving this on the side for 24-48 hours, under room temperature. This will allow time for any chemicals to evaporate and disperse and will prevent bacteria growth. Your Venus should never have dry soil but try not to water them too much, as you see in mine there is a lot of moss so this should soak up and encourage the Venus to thrive but being overzealous here could cause your Venus to grow thin leaves making them more vulnerable to insect or fungal attack.

I noticed the above damage was only slight when I first got Hector but as you can see this has gotten a little worse. This could be due to my over-eagerness of watering the plant admittedly but remember I’m a novice so go lightly on me! If you have recommendations on how often or how much to feed your Venus please do leave a comment, you could save dear Hector!

When watering your Venus it is always best to remember what conditions to keep him in. If you can allow lots of warm, direct sunlight you may only need to water your plant every 2-4 days (depending on how hot the conditions are and how quickly the soil dries). However, in colder more shaded conditions water your Venus every 8-14 days particularly during the freezing winter conditions.

If you’re really unsure of how often to water your Venus, just keep a watchful eye on the soil and when this starts to become dry at the top you can water your Venus and find a suitable pattern.

“So do I water from the top or the bottom?”

This is a question I asked myself in the beginning and thought it best wise to water from the top.

Water from the top will help disperse the feed better and can help wash the soil through of anything foreign that could be potentially harmful if left to sit inside the soil. However, water from the bottom will work and is easier but always remember to occasionally feed from the top too.

As for the head of the leaf that is deteriorating, I will cut this with scissors (see below) gently and allow the green leaf to continue to photosynthesize as there are many health benefits still from this.


If you’re growing a Venus yourself leave a comment, let me know how your growth is going it would be great to see other peoples techniques and share together!

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An Introduction To Life

I must admit, when I decided to start this I haven’t come equipped with a database of knowledge in my head like Professor Brian Cox or Sir David Attenborough. Just a child-like enthusiasm for the living organisms on our planet and what we have become as human beings in a society. If your a beginner yourself, we’ll be learning together.

The main focus of this blog will be to bring science and the ecosystems back to its basics. Using real life examples, to teach and learn about how the world works around us and just appreciating the simplistic beauty of our planet.

Meet Hector  
I visited the local garden centre and picked up a more popular of the carnivorous plants – the Venus Fly Trap. Something you might find in Poison Ivy’s hidden lair, the Venus Fly Trap I have here is only young and I count around 8 heads. As we enter late April the air is still very cold and Spring has not yet fully arrived, I anticipate the plant is being stubborn before it begins to really open up.

  

The “teeth” are what give Venus their popularity. They act like the bars on a jail cell and snap shut on any insect or bug who dares wonder into its mouth.

The surface of its mouth is covered in little hairs and when one hair is flicked by an insects leg – a timer is triggered. The unknowing insect will have just 20 seconds to escape before the mouth is sealed shut and the insect is unable to escape and there it will be slowly digested. The reason behind this 20 second gap, is so that the Venus doesn’t unnessecarily snap shut on passing winds or dust and waste its energy on indigestible meals.

A beginner like me requires some research on the care of plant life and I was pleased to see that our climate is well suited to the Venus Fly Trap. Coming from the East Coast of the United States, Carolina, the seasons are acutely similar to ours in the South of England and London, and Venus requires damp conditions. 

Should you choose to own one yourself, you’d be best to collect rainwater and feed this to your plant (tap water can be too acidic and the chlorine levels are also dangerous), otherwise you could leave a mug of water on the side between 24 and 48 hours – this would allow any chemicals in the water to disperse. Boiling the water can also be an option but perhaps as a last resort, as any bacteria is left dead in the water – of course, dead is good though.

I’m going to show you the progress over the next few weeks, amongst other things, and if indeed I’m cut out to at least be a florist. Introducing Hector, our Venus Fly Trap. 

 

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