the melody of my garden is the unique sound created
by some uncanny “instruments”. There
are golden trumpets rising from the swamp, laced
and deadly intoxicating elixir. The venus flytraps
add to this wild untamed garden with their sharp
staccatos. The glisten of the sundews add a deadly
brightness to this savage garden. Contained in
of fatal colors and intoxicating nectars, lies
an extraordinary phenomenon that literally holds
of the first things that really got me into gardening
was this fascination of plants that eat bugs. I can remember
watching a “Mr. Wizards World” special segment
on carnivorous plants and that just has stuck with me since.
This segment talked about the Venus flytraps, the sundews
and pitcher plants. It was so fascinating. I was obsessed.
Plants that ate bugs! I also remember watching this one “Nature” episode
on PBS about them. I was yet in elementary school at
the time and I would go to my school library and try
any and all books that contained any information on CP
(which stands for: Carnivorous Plants).
was this one green book I used to check out all the time
but it didn’t have any photos
but just general rough sketches of other carnivorous
plants. I would also search Natural Geographic magazine
and any resources that had anything to do on CP. There
was no internet back then at the school, so I relied
magazines and outdated books. There just wasn’t
too much info back in the day. I remember checking
green book so many times that it felt like I must of
owned it over the course of the school year. While
out playing dodge-ball, I was busy looking for information
in CP) when
I was about 11 or 12. Of
course, I had this concept that they were
delicate plants that needed high humidity and to be kept
out of direct
I put the plants in the greenhouse, but in the
shade (for my fear of killing
them with direct sun) so – all of the plants
last the next season. In looking back at it all
now – I
did not have the right information on growing
CP, and that put this concept in my head that “CP
was hard to grow”.
I always thought they had to be stuck in a terrarium
with super high humidity to thrive. I was afraid
of growing them in direct sunlight for fear of
years passed, I put the CP growing on hold.
Flava "Red Tube"
I asked my
grandparents to take me to the local hardware
store to see if they had any venus flytraps… and
there were. Being the wonderful grandparents
that they were -- they bought me one. I remember
so happy and excited that I finally had one!
I had a terrarium I made for my new VFT (Venus
Fly Trap – gotta
love acronyms here.) It was a large jar
that consisted of rocks at the bottom for
then, a layer
of charcoal, then a layer of sand, and
then the “dirt” which
was composed of peat moss and some leaf mold.
what the book said to do). I remember reading
one article saying that they needed up to 4 hours
filtered light a day, high humidity, cool temperatures
of 60-65, and it needed to kept in a terrarium.
Then - the directions that came with the Venus
said it was OK to feed them hamburger meat, so
what I did. I followed directions exactly
-- and my VFT died. Bummer.
I was so sad and heartbroken over my loss.
I didn’t know what I
did wrong. I followed those directions exactly. I had gone thru quite
a few venus flytraps as a child due to
Sad. I also remember endless
trips to McLellan
(where they specialized in orchids) but
were selling carnivores as well, and
also this one special trip to California Carnivores (a
just re-started growing CP about 3 years ago. I started
off with a Nepenthes (tropical pitcher) that
did grow successfully
indoors. I believe it was from Home Depot, and it was on
sale so I figure that “ ah, what the heck, might as
well try again”. I grew this indoors for about a year
and was successful at it. So I figure… “Hmmm,
If I could grow this, then I can probably grow others!” (Dangerous
and ambitious concept, for I am applying this to any and
every plant I get my hands on.) The “Hard-to-grow-CP” concept
needed to be shattered. This time around in growing CP,
I was more careful. Lets put it this way: I resolved to correct
mistakes from the past. All of my failures in growing these
plants had made me determined to grow them successfully.
I now had access to the CORRECT growing instructions, and
resources. I now had this “http-thang” available,
which put me in contact with growers such as Jacob Farin
at Sarracenia Northwest in Oregon, Karen Oudean of Oudean’s
Willow Creek Nursery in Washington, and Peter D’amato
and Marilee at California Carnivores. (Thanks guys!) The
information that I received from these reliable sources
that of what I had read in the outdated magazines and the
books in my elementary school library.
my wife and I were returning from a vacation
in Mendocino, we (well… I) decided to make another
trip to California Carnivores since it was just
along the way back home. I bought a Red Dragon
VFT and a Cape Sundew. I listened to Peter D’amato
and grew them outdoors, and to this day,
all plants are still alive and have already
a few times over!
slowly began building my collection of CP from local hardware
stores, garden shows, trips to specialty CP nurseries,
and buying from online retailers. I found that growing CP
I have actually lost track of how many
What I was
child was killing them with
(or ignorance) due to the lack of the right info. I would
house them in terrariums to protect them
bad world out there, when
in actuality, one could – and should grow CP outdoors.
(Again, depending on the species of course, other tropical
types of CP do best indoors,
but – more on this later.) I found the key is to
duplicate the natural habitat of the plant. For example – North
American pitcher plants are found in bogs and swamps, therefore
they need wet and nutrient deficient soil with full sun.
In fall they will start to go into dormancy so it appears
are dying out, but what they are doing is just resting
up for the next growing season. (Taking a winter nap, sorta)
the cycle starts all over again.
I hope that I’ve shed some light on the mystery
of CP, and that you’ve been encouraged to grow these
unique and beautiful plants. I think a lot of people don’t
grow them since they can seem intimidating, or that they
think CP is too hard to grow. After all, it’s an
organism that works backwards up the food chain. I’ve
been growing CP for 3 successful seasons and have propagated
Each year it just keeps getting better and better. Shoot – a
few years from now I may just even open up my own CP nursery!!
(Or just have one really really large private collection.)
"Where can I get CP?" you may ask yourself.
listed some websites that I find as trustworthy
sources in obtaining CP. Not only can they
supply you with CP, but they will help
you in all of your CP growing endeavors.
Farin and Jeff Dallas)
Sarracenia Northwest is one of the best all around
online CP suppliers out there. I really enjoy these
guys because of their AWESOME personal customer service,
quality plants, fast shipping, and their plants are
well packaged for safe
arrival. They also have a CP E-book which is a truly
excellent guide to growing these botanical beauties.
( ... and,
some of my photos are in it as well, so at least for
that reason you should buy it.) Another resource of
theirs I truly enjoy is their CP
blog -- ask the growers!. I appreciate
that they take time to package their plants well, and
never had a problem with plants arriving damaged. Sign
up for their CP growing tips and you will be updated
in your email with their "CP
a month for their free CP give away too, who knows
you may just be a lucky winner! Honestly, when I re-started
growing CP, it was these guys who
inspired me to do so once again. (THANKS GUYS!)
I haven't ordered online from these guys, but Peter
D'amato is D'a-MAN when it comes to carnivores. I live
rather close so I would just stop by the nursery to
purchase plants. Really awesome place they have over
friendly customer service. You also MUST have Peter
D'amato's book "The Savage Garden" - winner of the
prestigious American Horticultural Society's Book Award
as the GardenWriters Association of America's
Book Award. A great resource and a must have. If you
are in the area, stop by California Carnivores and
pick up an autographed copy from D'a-MAN himself.
Oudean's Willow Creek Nursery
Upon my visit to Seattle, Washington i found
out that there was a CP nursery not too far located
in Snohomish. I decided to visit and lo and behold
- this place is a thing of beauty. I would suggest
a trip to her nursery so you can really see all that
her place has to offer.The customer service is both
friendly and knowledgeable, and she is very helpful
at answering any questions you may have about CP.
My collection of CP would not be what it is without
Karen. Anyway, I can go on and on, but take a look
at some photos
from my trip there, as well as read
Cook's Carnivorus Plants
What I really enjoy about these guys is their selection
of CP they have for sale. They have a wide variety
of plants that you would otherwise have a hard time
finding. If you are looking
for some cool CP hybrids, or ones that are harder
to come by, I suggest to take a look here.