Anyways, here's an update on my Drosophyllum. To recap, typically, after the first flower spike, I'll get some side shoots, and then every last one of those side shoots will start to flower. Shortly thereafter, the entire plant will croak. Prior to this year, this is exactly the fate of every last drosophyllum I have ever grown-they survive for 2 years, flower and then die. This year, they finally survived past the second year.
This year,the plants produced one flower spike (some plants produced two) but the rest of the plant, for whatever reason, did not go into crazy flowering. Why? I'm not certain, but I have a couple of good guesses.
In previous years, I noticed when summer approached, the plant would flower and the leaves wouldn't look very dewy. IT would always seem to be in a sort of slow decline after flowering. On the other hand, this year, the plants were healthy all the way through.
Was my hypothesis earlier about slowly lowering the amount of watering during the summer correct? Absolutely not! Here's what I've observed: 1) never let these plants dry to the point of almost wilting-you'll be asking for root damage. 2) water these plants like you would water a houseplant-keep the soil moist at all times, but never waterlogged. I like to let the very top 1/4 cm of the soil dry out before watering again. 3) NEVER waterlog a mature plant!!! Young plants don't seem to care, but waterlog at your own risk, haha 4) Use a very sandy medium (30 mesh size) with a decent amount of peat (ie. 60% sand, 40% peat). Having a higher peat content allows for less frequent watering, and keeps the leaves "dewy" during the summer. 5) make sure they are "dewy" all times. This is probably why mine died every time they flowered-the plants would stop having copious amounts of dew during the summer because I kept them waterlogged, which led to root tip damage, which led to decrease turgor pressure. 6) To compliment step 5, make sure they are catching a lot of insects at all times. They should be covered in insects. I think the high nitrogen content tells the plant to keep going during the flowering mode. When you starve the plant of food when it's experiencing short nights (ie. summertime), it goes into relentless flowering mode (i'm guessing).
Keep in mind, this is what I've learned growing the plant outdoors in Northern California. How you grow your plant will vary based on your environmental conditions.
Enough jibber-jabber, here's some new photos, taken 8/11/13. Every last plant photographed earlier survived, but I had to move them into the light to take photographs, and it was too messy/Gooey to move/photograph them all:
I wanted to echo what you've said about Drosophyllum care. So much hay as been made in the past about keeping them too wet, that I think many people have lost theirs because of keeping them too dry. They don't like to sit in water for any length of time, but it is very much like a houseplant. Each time I water plants in our sundew greenhouse I'll walk by the Drosophyllum and feel the top of their pots and if it's feeling dry, time to water. I'll water until runoff, then stop. I've definitely had the experience you've had of letting them dry too much, bloom like crazy, then start to die. A former (emphasis on the former part) employee often had a hard time with this concept, and I'd walk into the greenhouse to see wilting plants.
One other piece I would add is to pot them up in as large a pot as you have space for. I'm guessing in nature they have very long roots to go down to damp soil, so problems seem to compound when in smaller pots just like it does with lots of other plants. I have one that I grow in my house under a 32 watt 6500K CFL sitting in a West window that's been there for two years now. It's in a 6 inch pot with a small dog dish type tray, and I find it drinks about a cup of water a day in the summer. It's my door guardian for flies. It hasn't tried to bloom yet, but its photoperiod is a bit messed up since I don't change the photoperiod in the winter. I've been getting away with this one in a small pot, but it's high maintenance.
I'm curious, how much cold do your plants tolerate?
Excellent observations, thanks for your input Jeff! As soon as my plants germinated, were hardened off to outdoor conditions, and had 2 juvenile leaves, they were transplanted into the large clay pots you see them growing in. In retrospect, it would have been nice to put them in slightly larger pots.
As far as cold tolerance is concerned, I believe it got down to 28F last winter. Every last leaf was frozen solid, and the whole plant looked like it was wilting. Next day when the frost passed, you couldn't tell the plants froze over...I thought for sure they would die, but there was no damage whatsoever. However, go below these temps, and I don't know what would happen.
basedrifter: I will snap photos when I have a chance, 2 of them from the photos above are still alive. Why did the others die? Well, let's just say that's the price you pay when you're a grower and you go on vacation! When I got back, every last plant was wilting because they didn't get watered enough. Ironically, the runt survived because it didn't wilt as bad (it stil had some water in the pot) but the most beautiful, fattest plants all perished. Yes, I'm still bitter about that, but what can you do? Well, I planted more and now there's some new fat seedlings! Photos to come!!!
A few more observations about Drosophyllum, now that I've had them stay alive for 3 years: 1) Wind can kill your plants! They tend to get these long, woody stems and top-heavy growth points, and when it's windy, it makes the main stem move around. 2) After looking at hundreds of photos of plants in the wild, it seems the biggest, oldest plants usually grow amongst shrubs. I suspect they live longer under such conditions because this protects the plant from being blown around in the wind. 3) I've staked my plants so that if there is a wind storm, the plant doesn't move around at all. The "skirt" of dead leaves makes it very easy stick a bamboo stake amongst all the growth points and no tie is needed. Be careful when staking too though: if you disrupt the roots accidently, it can kill the entire plant.
4) Once your plant reaches 3 years old, it'll likely have several "heads" or growth points to it. I used to freak out when I saw one of the heads die off because this usually meant the entire plant will die. Those dead growth points would be cut out, and then the plant would eventually rot out. Today, the when a growth point dies, the plant is left alone, and it seems to be okay! It just adds to the the plant's "skirt." In short, don't freak out if one of the growth point dies off, that is probably normal.
So, more than a year later, I have 2 plants that survived for almost 4 years now. There's also some new plants that are just thriving and are growing pretty big. The 2 old multi-headed plants are from Los Barrios, and these produce the red seed capsules. The rest of the plants(single headed) are from Cortes de La Frontera. Photos taken very recently (11/15/14):
This was the runt of the seed batch, and it's one of the 2 that survived! The bigger, faster-growing ones died because of lack of water (while I was away on vacation of course!), but this one made it. Los Barrios variant:
Notice how there's a stake wedged between growth points and old leaves, and that I left all the dead leaf material on. You can remove all the dead leaves, but it seems to stabilize the plant during windy days, which keeps the plant from sudden death. Remember, any damage to those roots at the wrong time will cause that plant to croak. I think Staking once the plant gets taller is critical to long term survival:
In the foreground, center is the other long term survivor from Los Barrios. Notice the ghetto-staking job. When it's really rainy and windy, this plant is very stable and doesn't move around. Before the stakes were in there, that plant was moving all over the place and made me nervous:
Hard to see from this photo, but check out the stunted growth points to the left of the plant. Ever since this plant almost died from a lack of water, many of the heads all of the sudden die back or slow down in growth and look deformed. I learned it's best to just leave that stuff alone, don't cut it out! Sometimes, they will come back, but most of the times, they just brown up and become part of the skirt:
A young almost 2 year old seedling from Cortes de la Frontera, no need for staking:
Plants were looking super-dewy, which is the strategy to growing healthy, robust individuals. The more dew they produce, the more insects they can catch, and the fatter they'll get:
These seedlings are really fattening up:
No matter how good of a grower you are, chances are, some plants will die. I over-watered 2 pots, and realize these pots had a bit too much peat moss. But here's the weird catch: the 2 plants died when they were maybe half the size of the plants you see above. Once they are giant, fully established individuals, having the pot retain a bit more water seems to be beneficial since they drink more. Drosophyllums are incredibly beautiful, so it's worth all the trouble:
The reason these are nick-named dewy pines:
some of the older, outer leaves were covered in insects, but these newer leaves didn't have much. The rain also seemed to wash off a lot of their previous catch:
The ICPS seedbank often has them, though typically only if you're a seed donor member. Otherwise, Cascade Carnivores often has them, and they occasionally pop up here and there. D. lusitanicum is one of those species few have real success with, but everyone wants to try. And those that do succeed, often have lots of seed afterward.
Last Edit: Dec 2, 2014 10:45:14 GMT -5 by hcarlton
Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.
We should have some seed available before too long. I've just got to take a day and count and package them. Much of the seed is over a year old which seems to be good with Drosophyllum seed. When I plant, I now start with the oldest seed to get the best germination.
I'm also excited to pollinate some flowers this February of a plant (sole survivor) of an unusual high elevation clone that came from some seed from Best Carnivorous Plants. The plant is much stockier than our other Dewy Pines and is just a deadly bug catcher in the summer. I'll be trying to only self the plant to keep the strain pure. I'll see if I can get a picture of it.
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