Carnivorous plants are awesome and are an example of species variations. They devour their prey by trapping it inside a cocoon of plant's leaves. This makes them one of the most peculiar plant species every household can get. This guide will cover what those plants are and how to take care of them.
You might be wondering what all those carnivorous plants are meant to do. It is a valid question. The plants evolved to feed on animals and insects because of the nutrient-deficient soils in places of origin.
The animals and insects they prey on are the only sources of minerals and nutrients they can get. This makes them good predators. You can use them to hunt flies and other insects down at your house and in the gardens.
Carnivorous plants do not need fertilizers but need an open spot to secure their prey. They do this through the active production of attractive colors, sugary nectar, and sweet scents. These attract arthropods that fall into the trap of their jaws.
Every carnivorous plant has its list of invertebrates and insects it can hunt for. Most common insects include flies, ants, and bugs. Bigger insects such as frogs and snails can also be part of the menu.
Common Carnivorous Plants
There are a few common carnivorous plants to look out for. The most prominent ones in New Zealand are flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundew.
Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula)
This plant has traps set up at the tips of its leaves. The trap is triggered by pressure on hairs that are located inside the trap. Failure to catch any prey will result in that part of the plant turning black and dying. If that happens to more plant leaves, the plant risks dying of starvation.
Once closed, it takes roughly two to three days for the empty trap to open again. If there is an insect inside, the trap can take between five to twelve days to open.
Venus Fly Traps Care
The Venus flytraps need a lot of moisture. But be aware that too much water will damage the plant, leading to mildew growth and root rot. Plant these organisms in spots with good drainage. Water them from the bottom to keep them damp.
Venus flytraps are used to growing in undernourished, acidic, and sandy soil. They best thrive under 12 hours of direct sunlight. The morning light is best since the sun's rays are not intense.
Venus flytraps bloom in Spring, grow through Summer and Autumn, and are dormant in Winter.
Hanging Pitcher Plant (aka Pitfall plants)
The pitcher plant is more commonly grown in the garden areas of the house. It is known as Nepenthes, tropical pitcher plant, or monkey cups. Part of the monotypic family Nepenthaceae, the genus consists roughly of 170 species.
During growth, the plant forms large trumpet-shaped traps at the tip of each leaf. The leaf is slowly filled up with special water created by the plant. Sweet nectar excretes and attracts prey.
The most frequent prey are arthropods such as insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans. Other arthropods found frequently include spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. Snails and frogs can be more unusual but also constitute part of their menu.
Nepenthes attract and kill their prey for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are a requirement for plant's growth.
Pitcher Plant Growing Kit
You can grow these plants in a pot on sunny windowsills provided there is no draughts or extreme heat or cold. Sun is crucial in making the plant grow pitchers.
It must be assured that the water drains through the soil completely. Take care of standing water as it can lead to root rot, which makes the plant susceptible to fungal pest growth.
Sundew (aka Drosera)
This is one of the biggest carnivorous plants that have over 190 variations. The plant attracts insects with a sweet, scented sticky substance. The substance is called "Mucilage", which is used to digest the prey.
The species occupy every continent except for Antarctica. In New Zealand, there are 7 native species of this plant. These plants are perennial, living up to 50 years of age.
It is best to have this plant grow inside your house indoors on a windowsill under the sun. Full shade, wind, harsh sunlight, and freezing temperatures must be avoided.
Sundews need mineral-free water such as distilled, rainwater, or bottled water. The soil should be kept wet at all times. Do not use potting compost or fertilizer.
Carnivorous plants should be placed at spots where they can reach their prey. Open spots like window sills, doorways, or gardens will provide enough opportunity for the plant to catch their prey.
Carnivorous plants are best placed under full sun. As most carnivorous plants come from moist environments, they may need to sit in a saucer of water.
The pitcher plant, sundew, and flytraps all have grown in high humidity environments such as moss, peat, and sand. They are best planted in sphagnum and other decorative mosses.
Best Places to Buy Carnivorous Plants
Buy Online - you can order carnivorous plants in most of the plant shops before the plants start arriving.
Mitre 10 - Get hold of New Zealand's pitcher plant at mitre 10 store.
Warehouse - Get indoor house Venus Flytrap seeds and growing kit available at the store.
Kings Plant Barn - There you can buy carnivorous plants from late spring to mid-summer. During this time these plants are thriving as though they were in the subtropical weather of Auckland.
Palmers - Get all the above-mentioned carnivorous plants, available instore over the summer months.
Carnivorous plants naturally grow only in poor soil, taking few nutrients from the ground. The plants are an organic form of fly control, akin to household pest control which is similar. These plants provide great means of hunting down unwanted insects at your house and in the garden.