Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breaking My Venus’s Flytrap Curse…

The patient, ever hungry mouth of a Venus' Flytrap.

Venus’s flytrap (Dionaea muscipula or VFT for short) is without doubt the iconic carnivorous plant and the one most people are familiar with. Unfortunately, most people also have a story that sounds something like “I brought a Venus’s flytrap, but it died”! I, too, have brought – and killed – lots of VFTs in my life. In fact, it was nearly 19 years ago today that I got my first VFT. It lasted about a year before it died. The next pot of them did not even last that long, neither did the next, or the next. No matter what I did – and I had quite a library of books at my disposal for advice – my VFTs died. I did exactly what the books said – full sun, lots of water in summer, drier in winter, peat moss and sand for soil. Winter temperatures should have been alright, as I grew Sarracenia easily. Nonetheless, they died right next to Sarracenia that were thriving, under the same conditions. I tried them in pots, in terrariums, in bog gardens – they all died equally well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nursery reviews # 1, Part 1: Gotcha! Plants, Queensland

Gotcha! plants is, in my opinion, far and away the best supplier of carnivorous plants in Australia – if not the best in the world – because they grow every plant they sell from seed and are continually striving to breed better plants every year. Their range is therefore always increasing and the quality of their species and hybrids is nothing short of spectacular. As if this was not enough, Gotcha! this year acquired the entire holdings of another carnivorous plant nursery – Fly Free Zone – whose owners (David & Felicity Martin) had spent the best part of 30 years breeding and selecting some of the best Sarracenia in cultivation anywhere. Gotcha’s manager, John Creevey, even described David Martin as the “Geoff Mansell of the Sarracenia - an impressive compliment given Gotcha! and Fly Free Zone were competitors at the time. Not that John can talk though – his plants are the Rolls Royce’s of Sarracenia! We’ll see David and Felicity’s plants in part 2.


Nursery reviews # 1, Part 2: Gotcha! Plants, Queensland

This half of the Gotcha! Plants review focuses on the collection of the former CP nursery Fly Free Zone.
Fly Free Zone was a CP nursery run by David and Felicity Martin. They went commercial around 1994, but David had been growing Sarracenia, Nepenthes and Dionaea for some 20 years before that. And when I say growing, I mean he started off with different species that he grew from seed (mostly from the late Fred Howell) and started crossing them to produce hybrids. He then selected the best, based on their colour and vigour. These things truly set David’s plants apart – the colours of his hybrids are breathtaking and his plants tend to form nice, compact rhizomes and strongly clumped plants. They are near-perfect in cultivation – their compact growth means you can have a large variety of plants in a relatively small space. I have been growing these plants since they appeared in 1994. Sadly, David & Felicity closed up shop last year and moved north, with the Sarracenia going to Gotcha! Plants. I was fortunate to receive a lot of his S. flava, some of which were started from seed in 1979!

The world's largest form of Drosera binata


Could this be the biggest form of Drosera binata in existance?