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Posts posted by Chimaera

  1. I have been trying to work out if boiling water to precipitate carbonate will reduce TDS sufficiently. Hs anyone with a TDS meter done the experiment? It appears that if there is enough calcium in solution (as should be the case in a limestone/chalk aquifer, as in most of SE England) it should be possible to get bicarbonate down to 80 TDS, at which point atmospheric CO2 levels prevent it going lower. So by this, boiling water and letting the carbonate precipitate out would work for water for the short term at least. 

    Does anyone know if this is true or not?

  2. Having just started a collection I am always happy for additions to it, so was really pleased to get some 'passengers' with other plants. I bought a 'starter set' of plants from H-C in the Winter (that have all surpassed my expectations of how good they are) and recently notices a few seedlings in the compost, so pricked them out. Associated with a S. purpurea were 3 nice little Sarracenias. I guess they are the same as the host, but could the hooked ends suggest S. psittacina or a hybrid of it? In the pot of a Drosera filiformis are a dozen seedlings; one has long leaves and is presumably the same species, the others are round with short petioles. Do leaves change shape as the plant grows or does this mean I have a round leaved form like D. aliciae? There was also a tiny clump of possible Utricularia but I think I killed it by moving it.




  3. I am guessing that they have 2 real problems other plants do not, firstly they do not want to risk eating their own pollinators so flowering earlier than pitchers is good, also most plants can get nitrated from the soil as soon as they start to grow, pitchers need to rely on what is stored from last year until the first pitchers can catch more nitrate. If there is flower or seed production, it leaves little nutrient for pitcher growth.

  4. Just been thinking about why subtropical Drosera and Serracenia would evolve to be so Winter hardy. I would guess that it is because they had to survive the last ice age (too recent for much speciation since), Most animals and plants could survive by moving with the climate belts away from the poles, but increased aridity would have been an additional problem for carnivores.  So for Serracenia whilst southern Florida stayed warm, it also got very arid and no good the bog plants, so bog specialists were restricted to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast where winters were probably far colder than now. So even species that now never see a frost in the wild would have only survived by being frost hardy. The same could be true with S African Drosera; whilst the Cape area got colder, expanding deserts and savannah to the North would have trapped the Drosera in a far colder area than now, so only the hardy survived.

  5. Just started collecting a few carnivores, and looking for suitable plants for an unheated greenhouse (in southern England), it seems that a there is variable advice about the hardness of some species. As we (in UK and some of northern Europe at least) have just had an exceptional cold snap late in the year, it would be interesting to see what survived or otherwise in unheated greenhouses or outside this winter. I was surprised that a D. capensis survived being frozen solid (even iff all the top growth died off).

  6. 21 hours ago, Argo88 said:

    In my experience, only with ventrata, is very useful to help plant producing pitchers to plant a stake to sustaine the plant in the pot (like with a tomato’s plant)... a lot of plants of garden centers are sold in hanging baskets without stakes, and the plants don’t make pitchers... another thing... my nepenthes x ventrata never made pitchers in winter... only when there are long days (hours of light) they make pitchers... to my friend that grows them with artificial lights and temperature control they make pitchers all around the year;-)

    I'll repot and stake it then, thanks. It is the shorter, erect, stem that is forming pitchers, not the longer, drooping one

  7. hanks, that is great. As these things go, 2 days after starting this thread I noticed one of the tendrils had thickened up and developed a 'felty' texture; it now has a 1cm proto-pitcher on the end and a second tendril seems to be doing the same. The other plant is getting very long though; is is worth cutting it back to encourage more base growth? It seems to quite like being in the bathroom; humid, west facing and with slightly textured window glass cutting the worst glare. maybe it was the threat of the greenhouse that made it buck up its ideas.

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  8. I don't know about Cps, but in Rhododendron it seems that calcium is not a problem, indeed calcium shortage is very damaging. It is raised pH that killed them, and you can add gypsum to give calcium with no problem. I also don't see mineral phosphate as a problem unless anyone knows otherwise; it is not very soluble and is apparently phosphorus is not an element Cps get from their food.

  9. I know this is a common topic, but exactly what in growing medium is and isn't acceptable for carnivores? Clearly calcium carbonate and high pH, and nitrates are out, but not sure about other salts. The reason I ask is I am a palaeontologist and regularly sieve sand from Morocco for small fossils and end up with a lot of sand left over once the fossils are removed (I have 15 kilos in my office at the moment). This is calcium carbonate free but contains small amounts of gypsum (Calcium sulphate), iron oxides and a quite a lot of mineral phosphate (mostly fragments of dinosaur bone; not very soluble). Any ideas?

  10. At risk of Nepenthes specialists rolling their eyes with this old question...

    I have been given a "supermarket" Nepenthes, presumably ventricosa or a similar hybrid, that has already had the 'first batch' of pitchers removed before I got it, and is now growing fast (grown from 20 to nearly 50 cm in 4 months) but not forming pitchers. There are tendrils with a terminal 'club' on the leaves but these eventually shrivel rather than form pitchers. It appears to be 2 plants within a small l' hanging pot' and is in a west facing bathroom (alongside various orchids). Can I encourage pitcher growth or does it happen when the plant wants to? Should  I repot and divide it and move it to another room, or maybe move it to an unheated greenhouse for the summer once the weather gets warmer? Can I encourage each plant to branch rather than grow as a single stem?


  11. Has anyone tried to replicate Darwin's classic experiment on the reason some plants are carnivores?

    As far as I can tell he placed items that were carbon rich and nitrogen poor (bread, sugar water) on some leaves of sundew, and some nitrogen rich, carbon poor (meat, his urine) on others, and only the latter caused the leaves to close up showing they needed the nitrates. I tried to with D. capensis but the leaves did not noticeably respond in any case (and only slightly to insects). I assume he used one of the native species. I would like to replicate and photograph this for teaching and general interest.

  12. Hi, 

    I am Charlie, I use the name Chimaera after a group of strange fishes I do research on.

    I am in North London and got introduced to carnivores a long time ago when I was working in Madagascar and saw pitchers in the wild there. I later got some unnamed Sarra hybrids, but being in a flat couldn't overwinter them so gave the survivors away. Fast forward 15 years and after having to let an allotment plot go, last year my 6year old some got me a wild-type VFT as a present (for himself I suspect), and later got s couple of Sarras and a D. capensis (on which i tried to replicate Darwin's 'urine experiment' without clear success). These have done so well in a cold greenhouse that I have recently bought a few more plants while they are dormant, mostly wild type species of Sarra and a couple of others. Looking forward to seeing them grow in  Spring. 

    Please be prepared for some "I have answered this one dozens of times before" questions.