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courtauld

Hello from Essex carnivorous plant terrarium

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Hello everyone. I am a school biology technician and last March I set up a carnivorous plant terrarium in an old fish tank in our Science reception. I put about 10 cm of gravel on the bottom and filled with distilled water to 1cm over the gravel. I then placed the plants in their pots in the gravel. We have Sarracenia Jutathip Soper, Readii, Oreopila minor, Catesbii, Purpurea. Also Drosera alicae, binata and capensis. And a Nepenthes ventrata , two Venus fly traps and a Cephalotus follicularis. Last year they looked really good and everyone enjoyed them.

Most of them have died back during the winter. The Drosera alicae has looked really good until last week when it has turned a dull red and lost all its dew. What I should do with it now? I haven't fed any of the plants with anything. What should I be feeding them with and how often? They haven't outgrown their pots but should I repot them?

I have joined this forum as I am not sure what to do with the plants from now on.

From Courtauld.

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Edited by courtauld

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I have some information that might be helpful, during the dormancy period, they don't need to be fed, they just need to be kept watered with rain water, or distilled water. What ever you do, NEVER USE TAP WATER!!!

When they come out of hibernation, they need about 8 hours of sunlight a day, if we are not getting that much sunlight, a 40 watt daylight bulb will give them the light and the heat they need. Also when they are out of hibernation, ensure they are still watered with either rain water or distilled water. The best thing you can do is place them in a saucer full or rain water or distilled water.

When it comes to repotting, it is recommended that you repot venus fly traps once a year, I don't know how often other carnivorous plants need repotting. When it comes to repotting, DO NOT use regular soil and DO NOT use soil that is high in nutrients as this will kill the plants. I would recommend using a mixture of 50 percent sphagnum peat moss and 50 percent perlite. If you go to garden centres, you can usually purchase ready mixed repotting soil that is specifically designed for carnivorous plants.

As far as feeding goes, when they come out of hibernation, usually they catch there own food, however if there aren't many flys and bugs around, then the carnivorous plants are either pulling there weight, and earning there keep by keeping the place bug free, or there isn't many flys and bugs around. If this is the case, if it is hot and sunny weather, you could place your carnivorous plants outside where there is a lot of flys, you can find flys and other bugs in the garden under rocks, or if things become really desperate, live bugs can be purchased from pet stores. If they are catching their own food then leave them to it, however if they are not catching their own food, I would recommend feeding them about once a month. What ever you do, DO NOT feed carnivorous plants human food, and DO NOT feed them meat. This will kill the plant, ensure they only eat insects to ensure they remain healthy.

I hope this information helps. :-)

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Hi Courtauld, welcome to the forums, glad you could join us. You've certainly come to the right place.

The sarracenias and vft's should be in dormancy now with cooler temps, somewhat drier and so on. Cephalotus and your Drosera on the other hand should only be in a slower state of growth if anything, not died back. I think D binata might have a dormancy but mine are still growing a bit, D aliciae and capensis don't go dormant but will die back in winter if grown outside in the UK and regrowing in Spring if they survived, mine are either indoors or in the greenhouse and still growing. Not sure about your Nep alata as I've never grown that species.

I assume you "Science Reception" is indoors. What temperature are you keeping them at and how much light are they getting now? Can you post some pictures of your plants and setup?

I found that a sudden change of environment invariably shocks my Drosera aliciae into losing its dew. Examples of the kind of treatment I'm talking about are repotting, moving to hot greenhouse after purchase, turning central heating on in autumn. Having said that they always seem to recover once they've settled or conditions return to "normal".

Cephalotus prefer a drier environment than your other plants, I grow mine in a sand:peat mix about 2:1 (i.e. 2 sand). My larger plant is in a quite tall pot and I only put about 5mm water in the saucer, then wait till that's gone before topping back up to 5mm again. They suffer from mould if top watered and I wouldn't have thought they'd be good terrarium plants. Other growers might disagree. I'd take the Cephalotus pot out of the terrarium and let it dry a bit, it should regrow in Spring unless it's completely rotted.

I haven't bothered feeding too much during the winter, I occasionally gave my Drosera and Cephalotus tiny amounts of crushed fish flakes (by tiny I mean a 1mm blob or less). VFT's and Sarracenia don't need anything as they're supposed to be dormant.More importantly as Sarracenia1983 mentioned no tap water (only rain, distilled or RO), no fertilisers, no meat, cheese or other human food. Pot in unfertilised peat mixed with sand or perlite etc, every grower has their own favourite mix. For peat a lot of growers buy Moorland Gold which is peat filtered from water running of the Yorkshire Moors so it isn't extracted from peat bogs. There are other discussions on here about peat and other potting media.

If possible I think you might need to have more than one type of environment for your plants as you've currently got North Americans, South Afrikans, an Asian and an Australian all the sharing the same tank :morning2: . Some are bound to do less well than others in that case. At least you didn't throw a few Pings in as well.

I hope this adds a bit to the information you already received and that you can get your plants back to good health soon. good luck.

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Many thanks to the last two replies.

The plants can't catch any flies as the tank has a lid on and the air gap is very small. It does have a day light tube in it. The cephalotus follicularis has not died back and still doing really well, about the only one that is.

As I am not a computer wiz, I still haven't figured out how to post photos. How do I post them on to my introduction page or anywhere else ?

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Hi Courtauld, as Gaz and Sarra have already said, your sarracenia and vft's should currently be going through their dormant phase during the winter so best conditions for them would be outside preferably with some shelter, e. g a greenhouse or similar.

If they don' t have their dormancy period it will considerably weeken them or so I'm led to believe.

The fact that your plants have died back is hopefully a sign they are dormant rather than dying, if your really unsure I'd take a look at the condition of the rhizomes.

A lot of people's plants are starting to put up some new growth already this season so have a look for any fresh growth in amongst the old dead pitchers.

I also agree with Gaz on the mix you have, the nepenthes and the cephalotus shouldn't really be kept in the same conditions as the sarra's and vft's, the neps and ceph's should never be allowed to dry out nor get waterlogged, as said the water in the trays they stand in should be allowed to evaporate before adding more whereas the vft's and sarra's do best standing in an inch or so of rainwater throughout the growing season.

The easiest way I've found to upload a photo is to first add it to a free photo sharing site, ( I use photobucket) then copy the " image link" of the photo from that site then paste it on your topic here, with any luck your photo will appear ;-).

P. s at the top right of this page, underneath where it says " members map" you'll see a little magnifying glass, if you click on it you get the option to search the site for any keywords you enter, a wealth of knowledge can be found amongst it's pages.

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You may want to try subtropical sundews, as well as bladderworts in the terrarium. The VFT's, Sarracenias, and Cephalotus are temperate climate plants, with the first two needing direct sunlight, outside. Here are a few examples of very accommodating bladderworts and sundews:

100_8733.jpg U. livida

100_8729.jpg D. capensis

100_8559.jpg D. venusta

007-5.jpg D. apatulata

013-1.jpg B. linflora

002-11.jpg My terrarium

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Hi Courtauld, as Gaz and Sarra have already said, your sarracenia and vft's should currently be going through their dormant phase during the winter so best conditions for them would be outside preferably with some shelter, e. g a greenhouse or similar.

If they don' t have their dormancy period it will considerably weeken them or so I'm led to believe.

The fact that your plants have died back is hopefully a sign they are dormant rather than dying, if your really unsure I'd take a look at the condition of the rhizomes.

A lot of people's plants are starting to put up some new growth already this season so have a look for any fresh growth in amongst the old dead pitchers.

I also agree with Gaz on the mix you have, the nepenthes and the cephalotus shouldn't really be kept in the same conditions as the sarra's and vft's, the neps and ceph's should never be allowed to dry out nor get waterlogged, as said the water in the trays they stand in should be allowed to evaporate before adding more whereas the vft's and sarra's do best standing in an inch or so of rainwater throughout the growing season.

The easiest way I've found to upload a photo is to first add it to a free photo sharing site, ( I use photobucket) then copy the " image link" of the photo from that site then paste it on your topic here, with any luck your photo will appear ;-).

P. s at the top right of this page, underneath where it says " members map" you'll see a little magnifying glass, if you click on it you get the option to search the site for any keywords you enter, a wealth of knowledge can be found amongst it's pages.

Edited by courtauld

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Thanks for photobucket idea. I have joined and used to add some photos.

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The B.liniflora looks good - may have to get that, I think the tank could do with some flowers. The D.spatulata and capensis flowers look nice too.

Edited by courtauld
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Jim's suggestion of growing some Utrics could be good for flowers, flower size varies considerably so pick carefully. Personally I find D. capensis and spatulata flowers, whilst pleasant enough, are not exactly impressive and each one only opens for a day so a little disappointing for me....just my opinion of course.

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Utrics like livida, sandersonii, dichotoma, calcyfida, prehensilis,... give you a variety of colour:

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Welcome to the forum. It's a little difficult to tell from the photos, due to reflections, but I think the water level might me a too high for your Drosera alicae. Perhaps try lifting it a in the gravel, so that the soil is kept moist but not waterlogged. As others have stated the VFT and Sarracenia should have a winter dormancy, which they will not get in your terrarium. The terrarium would be more suited to warmer climate plants, rather than temperates such as VFT and Sarracenia.

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Jim's suggestion of growing some Utrics could be good for flowers, flower size varies considerably so pick carefully. Personally I find D. capensis and spatulata flowers, whilst pleasant enough, are not exactly impressive and each one only opens for a day so a little disappointing for me....just my opinion of course.

That and capensis & spatulata do just fine non-terrarium settings, like a grow rack or a sunny window sill.

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I think it's great that you have a setup in your school to help get the students interested in these amazing plants. If kids actually properly knew how easy a venus flytrap was to grow if done in the right conditions we'd have far more young uns in the hobby. I was always a plant geek at school but I was definitely the exception.

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Thankyou for saying so. It has given a lot of people at school who see it, a lot of pleasure. I have had so many positive comments about it. I have become really interested in carnivorous plants through setting it up. And I can't wait to buy more!

I think it's great that you have a setup in your school to help get the students interested in these amazing plants. If kids actually properly knew how easy a venus flytrap was to grow if done in the right conditions we'd have far more young uns in the hobby. I was always a plant geek at school but I was definitely the exception.

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