Sunday, June 5, 2011

Winter rhizome maintenance and pruning

Sarracenia produce all their new growth from a modified stem called a rhizome. Although rhizomes may not immediately look like a stem, they have all the characteristics of one - a growing tip or bud and secondary growth points or nodes that develop all the way along the stem. Depending on where the nodes are, and what the plant needs, they may produce either roots or new growing points. Because all growth comes from the rhizome, they need to be carefully maintained for full growth. The best time to do this is winter, when your plant is dormant and new growth can not be damaged.

Here is a photo essay of maintenance I perform on all my plants during winter.
Sarracenica flava var rugellii before being cleaned up for next spring.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sarracenia flava var. flava - ex Triffid Park

Data at a glance...
Latin name                           Sarracenia flava var. flava
Clone name                          Triffid Park var. flava
Acquired                               2009, ex Triffid Park open day
Pitcher flush pattern            Many: many: P (Sp: Su: Au) 
Growth strength                   Strong
Division types                      Flower and rhizome division noted

This rather magnificent plant is considered by some to be a S. flava var. rugellii, but because the red throat blotch extends onto the hood as veins, it is properly a S. flava var. flava. Even so, the intensity and coverage of the throat blotch is simply remarkable. Emphasising these features is the truly narrow throat that makes this plant just so beautiful. It is also a very good grower that, once settled in, splits reliably and puts on a good show of pitchers through all of spring and summer. The photos above are of the plant in spring 2010, but its rhizome swelled from all the insects caught during summer and is now twice the size shown above. It should look magnificent this spring!

Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora - Gotcha! Giant

Data at a glance...
Latin name                           Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora
Clone name                          Gotcha! Giant
Acquired                               2009, ex Gotcha! Plants at the Queensland Garden Expo, Nambour
Pitcher flush pattern            1-2: 1: P (Sp: Su: Au) 
Growth strength                   Strong, but weak pitcher production
Division types                      Flower and rhizome division noted, but not regular

Gotcha! Giant is the biggest S. flava var rubricorpora I have seen in cultivation within Australia. Mature plants produce truly massive pitchers, which regularly reach well over 90 cm (3 feet), if not higher. My plant was obtained as a cutting, so it still has a while to go yet. Another curious thing about this plant is its hood, which leans forwards over the mouth of the pitcher because the throat is actually angled forwards. Even with this obstruction, it is an adept insect catcher. Unfortunately, it is a little on the slow side to grow, with only a few pitchers produced per year. It is also slow to divide, so it is not a plant for the impatient. Despite this, it ranks high on my list of favourites for its impressive size.

Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora - Helmut's red tube

Data at a glance...
Latin name                           Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora
My clone name                    Helmut's red tube (ex J.J. Betz collection)
Acquired                               December 2009, ex Helmut Kibelis
Pitcher flush pattern            n: n: P (Sp: Su: Au) 
Growth strength                   Strong
Division types                      New growth point at flowering and ?1+ rhizome node yearly.

Pitcher description
Lid with filament under-developed, yellow with maroon venation on both surfaces, lid margin undulating. Throat pigmented purple-red with veins extending onto lid and pitcher tube; tube interior yellow with maroon veins, exterior deep maroon with green speckles on throat exterior. Flower yellow, strong flava scent, petals narrow, non undulating.

Helemt's red tube is a plant that always gets everyone's attention, mainly because of its magnificently veined lid. It is a strong grower (by flava var. rubricorpora standards anyway) that grew to around the summer equinox in 2010-2011. It also divides quite readily, both at flowering and later in the season from secondary growths. The photos do not show how red this clone becomes, as it was repotted in 2010. The 2011-2012 season promises to be quite a good one, so it should look stunning this spring.