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Archive for the ‘Sarracenias’ Category

I’d look out for plump flying ants whenever it rains the night before. Fortunately for me, the recent rains brought some.

They swarm around the lights outside the house and invariably find their way indoors. So I’d get them – before they get in.

I swing my flyswatter around with as much panache as a swashbuckler and my roguish grin widens with each ant I drop into a container.

.

Okay, so it’s a bumper crop of ants with plump heads and abdomens. But much as I appreciate exotic food like fried caterpillars and grasshoppers, these ants are not destined for my dinner plate.

They’re meant for my Gobbleguts … I think my pitcher plants know I have a treat in store for them.

I kept the ants for a couple of days before using them, so they ended up smelling like fermented shrimps. But I think the pitchers are not going to be too picky.

True enough, they had their mouths open impatiently for their share this morning. The smaller pitchers had an ant or two, while bigger ones gobbled a few more.

.

I had enough ants for both Tropical and North American pitcher plants. Most of them had seconds and a couple had an extra treat of fresh juicy caterpillars.

They’re truly Gobbleguts indeed.

Wait … did I hear a burp?

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 I love ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. They tell a story and speak volumes of potential and promise. Here are my own before and after shots – well, not of me, but of my plant.

before

after

This is how it all began…

I was with a couple of gardening friends when we saw a few pots of sarracenias at a local garden centre. Ironically, we got excited, not because the plants were lovely, but because they were not. You see, we were planning to bargain and buy the sad-looking specimens at reduced prices.

A pot of sarracenia is normally tagged at US$7 upwards here. I managed to get five for $5.

One of my friends identified a couple of them. “This is a flava, and that’s a stevensii.” He said. “They should recover if you take care of them properly.”

I wasn’t too sure about my abilities then, but I figured that even if only one survived, it would still be a bargain.

Another friend thought I had poured my money down the drain. “They look like they’re going dormant. It won’t be easy getting them past that stage …” He knew that I was new to all this.

He was right. I lost one after another as I couldn’t store them in the fridge as advised. That would have raised some fierce objections from my Minister of Home Affairs.

But there was a trooper amongst the lot. This sarracenia had a few pitchers. But only two of these looked decent; the rest were either brown at the tips or had been snipped off.

At first, nothing happened.

Then the pitchers started to grow in number. One of them had a promising blush so I decided to move it to full sun.

And the transformation began.

First, the veins turned red. Then the entire pitcher followed suit. Now I have an entire pot of deep red pitchers.

Would I be right to say that this is a purpurea x flava? For now anyway, I’ll just call it a ‘beef

steak’ – medium rare.

And …. now I do have a name for it. Allen Phoon from petpitcher forum identified it for me as Sarracenia Chelsonii which is a purpurea x rubra. Many thanks, Allen!  🙂

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Sarracenia Stevensii

….

When a friend gave me a cutting of his Sarracenia Stevensii in June last year, I couldn’t thank him enough.

I treasured that cutting and promised myself that I’d do it justice.

I potted the single pitcher in LFS and watched it like a motherhen.

……

…..

For a long while, nothing happened. While this meant there was no progress, it also meant that the Stevensii was still alive, at least.

And then it happened.

After 3 months, the Stevensii bloomed and I was chuffed – it was a proud moment. I pollinated the flower, determined to harvest a few seeds at least.

The Stevensii continued to grow.

Today, less than 7 months after I planted the lone pitcher, the pot holds about two dozens rosy Stevensii pitchers.

And the flower which I pollinated about 4 months ago has formed …. a very promising plump pod!

Care and propagation: long fibre sphagnum or a combination of peat, perlite and sand (2:1:1); sit in dish of water; full sun; propagate using cuttings or seed

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Sarracenia Juthatip Soper

the juthatip when i bought it

I had only just started on CPs for few months and already had some droseras, vfts and three pots of sarracenias. Some would say those are plenty for a newbie but I wanted more.

Then a friend asked if I wanted to buy any CPs and gave me a list of the plants available. I came across an unfamiliar name – Sarracenia Juthatip Soper. It sounded exotic and quite unlike the other sarracenias.

“Juthatip Soper?” I asked. “Do you know what it looks like?” My CP friend didn’t have a clue.

I did a Google search and saw pictures of a sarracenia with Mitchelliana parentage in gorgeous shades of pink and red, and attractive broad, wavy hoods. It was a no-brainer. I had to get one of course.

And so in July last year, JS and I became acquainted for the first time. JS had just over a dozen pitchers of varying sizes then but I loved everything about it. It was gorgeous. And I was smitten.

Having been moved from a cooler clime to warm humid conditions, JS had to acclimatize slowly.

I gradually moved it from bright light to morning sun to the sun’s full intensity. Thankfully, JS responded positively.

Unlike its more prolific neighbor, the Stevensii, JS does not seem to be in a hurry to flower. It’s just putting out pitchers at this point and when pitchers are as gorgeous as JS’s, I’m not about to complain.

The young pitchers of the Juthatip Soper are a sweet pink with delicate veins. As the pitchers mature, the rosy blush deepen into a rich wine red. The stems remain a refreshing apple green.

young pitcher

in between

mature pitcher

 

 

I love the Juthatip Soper and wouldn’t mind another. In fact, I confess I’m guilty of playing favourites sometimes, feeding it with choice grubs and insects.

the throat

looking down the throat

say, "aaahhhh...."

 It came as no surprise to find that the plant (not mine) won an RHS Award of Merit in the UK – a well deserved accolade.

If you’re into sarracenias, and even if you’re not, the Juthatip Soper is a beauty well worth getting. It’s a bouquet worthy of being a centerpiece, anywhere.

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Sarracenia Leucophylla

 

A gardening friend gave me my first two sarracenias – a couple of plump purpureas.

They looked happy and when I realized they weren’t dying in my care, I set my sights on the stately sarracenia leucophylla.

I loved its structure and the trademark purity of its white-topped pitchers. And I meant to get a pot.

 

I found them.

But I had to settle for a hybrid instead. I can’t complain; the price was more than reasonable, it was a mature specimen and the pitchers packed the pot.

They were so packed that the air circulation was affected when the plant was in transit.

 

I had an initial problem with mildew. I trimmed off the marred pitchers, which left it looking a bit sparse.

But the leuco rebounded easily and is now a compact clump again.

The leucophylla towers over my other sarracenias. It also blooms more readily. Each time it does, I give nature a hand with the pollination but have yet to reap the dividends.

 

While waiting to see if my experiment with pollination works, I received a fast-forward in the form of some stratified leucophylla seeds from a kind forumer.

I sowed these.

Before long, the seedlings emerged. First the cotyledons then the miniature pitchers – my first batch of sarracenia seedlings.

I know I sound like a proud mother hen, but then they are special. And if they turn out to be the lycophylla species – the real mc coy – I’d be more than chuffed.

Care and propagation: plant on LFS or a mix of sphagnum peat moss, sand and perlite (2:1:1), stand in dish of water, semi to full sun. Divide during dormancy or propagate using seeds.

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Svelte Sarracenia Stevensii

I’m glad I didn’t buy the first pot of sarracenia I saw. I was sorely tempted, but a huge wave of doubt hit me. It was unfamiliar territory and of course its formidable price tag was a major determining factor.

The sarracenia would have gone down the same path as my first rosemary. I would have signed its death warrant by administering lethal doses of fertilizers. And I would have mourned two things – its demise, as well as the hole in my pocket.

But sarras are such irresistible things. And so when I got started on droseras and then vfts, I was aiming for the ultimate – a pot of sarracenia!

A CP expert friend cautioned me against rushing into things. “Take things one step at a time,” he said. That was just about the hardest thing for me to do. Me, exercise patience??

Finally, I was deemed ready and was given a pot of s. purpurea! That was just about as thrilling as obtaining my driving license!

And then another CP friend gave me a Stevensii cutting. O, joy!! I planted the cutting with its single pitcher into a pot of long fibre sphagnum moss.

That was three months ago. Today I saw the most beautiful red bloom in the pot. And I did what I thought was the most sensible thing to do after taking a few shots of the svelte beauty. I got my pollination brush and decided to give nature a hand in creating its progeny.

Only time will tell if my effort yields fruit …

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