Carnivorous plants: Houseplants of the Month for August
Trend: green carnivores on your windowsill. Carnivorous plants are green, bizarre and entirely danger-free – unless you’re a spider or insect.
They look like they’ve just emerge from Jurassic Park, and they can fend for themselves very well. Carnivorous plants also offer exciting colours and freakish shapes and are useful in your home if you want to get rid of unwanted pests in an environmentally friendly way. Carnivorous plants attract spiders and insects with their colourful and weird appearance. They catch and digest their prey and carry on silently luring in order to snatch another fly in 3, 2, 1…
The way that carnivorous plants look after themselves in the wild is utterly smart. That’s why they fit well with the interiors style in which technology plays an ever greater role in the home. The unusual colours and bizarre shapes look particularly good in a setting that is clean and stark, a bit like a laboratory. Pots can be fresh and cool: geometric shapes, cool lilac and matt white all help to provide a contemporary stylistic counterbalance for these plants. Bang on trend: pots that provide you with information about the plant in an app.
Introducing the carnivores
The Venus fly trap uses a sweet odour to attract insects into its red ‘mouth’. Once a tasty fly lands, the leaves snap shut and the plant digests its prey in about ten days. Missed? Then the Venus fly trap sulks for a couple of hours before slowly opening again.
Sarracenia grows in rosettes. Each tube features an attractively coloured pitcher containing nectar. The top edge is very slippery: if an insect slides down, it will meet its end very sweetly. The plant digested its prey to obtain its nutrients.
Droseria lures its prey with attractive colours and a sticky shiny substance on its tentacles. Once an insect has got stuck, the leaves of this sinister beauty close around it and it is digest it as a tasty snack.
Nepenthes is an elegant feature plant with large hanging pitchers. As with Sarracenia these have a smooth edge causing insects to tumble down into a treacly substance that digests them. Nepenthes’ online hashtag is very graphic: #nobugsjugs.
Don’t trigger carnivorous plants’ traps with your finger, This demands a lot of energy from the plant without it getting a meal in return. Furthermore, the trap can open close about six times before the plant dies. If you would like to see the plants in action, serve them a dead fly.
In the wild carnivorous plants live in fairly damp regions with nitrogen-poor soil such as swamps. Nepenthes does that in Southeast Asia, the Venus fly trap and Sarracenia come from North America, and Drosera grows on all the continents apart from Antarctica.
Where do they like to hang out?
Nepenthes likes some space so that slightly dumb insects are not distracted but tumble straight into its pitchers. The Venus fly trap, Sarracenia and Drosera look good together, each in their own pot or as a carnivore show together in an open or enclosed terrarium.
Feeding & care
- Most carnivorous plants like full sun.
- Waterlogged soil is fine. Place the plants in acidic potting soil and a shallow layer of water.
- Carnivorous plants prefer to drink rainwater, distilled water or soft tap water. If you live in an area with hard water, boil it and leave to cool before serving.
- They don’t need any plant food – they catch their own meals.
- Remove dead brown leaves and pitchers; they’re a magnet for fungi.
- Repot the carnivores in the spring once every year or two.
- Don’t give carnivores any meat; this will cause the traps to rot.
- The plant’s traps will wither in winter. Don’t worry – they will reappear in the spring with a healthy appetite!
For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Published on: 25 July 2019