Pine Needles as a Growing Medium


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I can only draw a conclusion from what I have seen with the pictures,and it seems VFTs seem to grow well with a pine needle mix.

So, for those of us that would like to give it a try when repotting next year, where would one aquire the pine needles?

Please don't say "gather from the forest floor" there is nothing like that near the chav capitol of Doncaster.

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So, for those of us that would like to give it a try when repotting next year, where would one aquire the pine needles?

Please don't say "gather from the forest floor" there is nothing like that near the chav capitol of Doncaster.

Are there any parks around, as you might find pine trees in there? They are common in the UK, so there's likely to be some around near you.

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I can only draw a conclusion from what I have seen with the pictures,and it seems VFTs seem to grow well with a pine needle mix.

So, for those of us that would like to give it a try when repotting next year, where would one aquire the pine needles?

Please don't say "gather from the forest floor" there is nothing like that near the chav capitol of Doncaster.

There seems to be some conifers to the just to the west of sandall beat wood.

There might also be some in the other woods on the east side of doncaster, sandall beat wood, shaw wood, sandall park

and theres a big wood to the west of sprotbrough.

Google earth is your friend :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update

22/10/11

pnexp5.jpg

25/09/11

pnexp4.jpg

22/08/11

pnexp3.jpg

The colour variation is very evident now between these genetically identical plants. Could the growing medium be playing a part? Is it down to the amount and type of insects being caught or is it something else. For those not following this exp all conditions were kept the same exept the growing medium, and of course being outside I had no control of the prey caught. Interested to hear other peoples theories?

Another interesting experiment for the future ie control the type and amount of prey being caught to see the effect on growth and colour.

Edited by mantrid
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Seems like the plants in PNs are a lil bigger than the others.

Yes but not a big enough sample size to make draw a firm conclusion. The one in the 100% pine needles is also quite small making me think it may be related to amount of water, as the pine needles drain easily. So the one in 100% needles is not getting as much water as the rest. It may be the opposite for the 100% peat which will contain more water than the rest, maybe too much with the result that its affecting its growth. Ensuring that each medium has the same amount of water absorbed into it will resolve this. But that would be difficult to do.

Differences may also be down to the amount of prey caught. Again stricter control is needed to test this, either by controlling exactly the amount of prey taken by each plant or using a large sample size to average out any differences due to amount of prey taken.

The only firm conclusion that can be drawn from this at the moment is that pine needles dont hinder the plants growth and can work effectively as a structural element to the medium similar to perlite.

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I'm thinking that since VFT's grow in pine barrens in the Carolina's, that an ideal soil would be some combination of peat, sand, and pine needles. The media you're using in pots A-C probably mimic their "native" soils to some degree. Obviously, the areas they're from have a huge variety of soils, so I'm generalizing.

Anyways, I think you're onto something here, and I will likely be adding some pine needles to my mini-bog to minimize the peat I'm using.

Great looking plants to the both of you!

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  • 1 month later...

I am stopping the photo updates until spring as there is no growth taking place at the moment just a bit of die back. Probably have another pic at the end of feb beginning of march time. Thanks to everyne for the feedback, comments and suggestions so far.

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  • 3 months later...

New season and as its a nice day I have taken pics of this continuing experiment.

Over the winter the growing media has sunk and become over grown with moss so I have refreshed it by removing medium from the top and replacing it and adding some to the bottom of the pot to bring the plants back up to the rim of the pot.

One thing of note is that within the pine needle pots at the bottom there was noticable decomposition of the needles. In the 100% pine needles there appeared to be some anaerobic condition at the very bottom as there was that noticable sulphurous smell coming from it and the needles were saturated, no longer possessing the free draining ability they had when they where not decomposed. Will be interesting to see what effect this decomposition is going to have on the plants this season.

27/03/12

pnexp6.jpg

22/10/11

pnexp5.jpg

25/09/11

pnexp4.jpg

Edited by mantrid
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Have you checked the pH of each different medium? I'm just curious.

Sorry for late reply.

No I didnt check pH. I did have some universal indicator paper somewhere but have misplaced it. When I find it I will check the pH as it will be interesting to see how much difference there is particularly after all this time.

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@mantrid, I've been waiting for you to revive the topic before I posted. Mine too has sprung into life again in this extremely warm early spring. I too have noticed the pine needle level sink:

vYTFi.jpg

a23jB.jpg

OKEPt.jpg

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@mantrid, I've been waiting for you to revive the topic before I posted. Mine too has sprung into life again in this extremely warm early spring. I too have noticed the pine needle level sink:

If you repot or add needles to the bottom let us know what state they are in particularly at the bottom

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Hi, great thread and read, really inspirational and I'm liking the results you are getting.

Yes me too. Looks like needles can substitute for drainage additives like perlite and also some of the peat as well. The biggest plant so far is in 50:50 peat and needles. However, as mentioned earlier this experiment needs to be conducted on a larger sample size for more accurate data and some other variables need controlling such as prey capture and saturation of the medium.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi, where you find the Pine Needles? they sell them or or take them from the pines??

No need to buy them there are plenty of forests where I live to collect them

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Can I use the pine bark?

Many people are trying various alternatives to sphagnum peat moss. I'm currently experimentally growing a Venus Flytrap in a mixture of (by volume) 1 part silica sand, 1 part chopped pine (or any evergreen) needles, and one part evergreen bark pieces. Because this mixture drains freely and dries a little too fast, I plan to add 1 part by volume of carefully desalinated coir (coconut husk pith) which has been repeatedly soaked for 8-10 hours and drained (perhaps 8 to 10 different soakings) to remove the soluble mineral salts that are almost always present in coir.

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Have you ever try to grow VFT with only live sphagnum?

Yes. I don't like it. Live sphagnum often resents in hot weather the bright sunlight that Venus Flytraps love. In hot weather, especially if one's climate is dry like mine is, live sphagnum moss grows better in shade, but Venus Flytraps don't. :smile:

Edited by xscd
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Update

100% Pine needles suffering a bit. I think it may be that the needles are mostly dry as they cant wick up the water and the very bottom is saturated and anaerobic. Both conditions are not favourable for the roots.

01/05/12

pnexp7.jpg

27/03/12

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22/10/11

pnexp5.jpg

Also had to share this great sunset from yesterday. We have some good ones over the summer but this is the best this year so far

sunset.jpg

Edited by mantrid
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I will take this exp a bit further this year. The 50:50 mix looks very good so based on that I will set up a larger sample size to compare of 10 plants in this mix against 10 in a typical 70:30 peat perlite mix. Also if I have sufficient plants of the same size I may also do a 50:50 perlite peat mix just to see if its that extra drainage/aeration of using 50% needles rather than the needles themselves ie will 50% perlite work as well as 50% needles.

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