Garden

With their exotic and unusual appearance, and fascinating ability to obtain their nutrient needs by trapping and feeding on insects, carnivorous plants make a bold impact. They are also surprisingly easy to look after, once you understand their needs.

TIME IT RIGHT Plant mid-spring to summer to enjoy the carnivorous plants at their peak of interest.

They will die back in winter, then start growing again in spring. If possible, allow one week for the potting mix to reach correct acidity before planting.

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PLANT LIST

Darlingtonia californica Dionaea muscipula Drosera capensis Sarracenia flava Sarracenia ‘Juthatip Soper’ Sarracenia moorei (flava x leucophylla)

Sarracenia purpurea subsp. purpurea

sphagnum moss (optional; if dried, soak for at least 1 hour and squeeze out excess water before using)

Project Steps

1

Clean the container before planting to remove any residue and particles that may harm the plants. Plan your arrangement: place delicate, low-growing plants at the front where they can be appreciated, then continue building up the layers, putting taller plants at the back. Aim for a natural look that shows off each individual variety of plant.

Since our concrete planter was made without a hole in the base, we added a very thin layer of gravel for drainage. This is not essential, however, and it is important to leave space so the potting mix layer is deep enough to allow water to get under the roots of the plants.

3

Fill with a growing medium of three parts organic coir to one part perlite. Carnivorous plants need slightly acidic, nutrient-poor soil, and the correct potting mix is essential for plants to thrive. You can replicate this with the organic coir and perlite mix, but check labels carefully on the coir mix to ensure they don’t contain any salt or added nutrients, which are likely to kill the plants.

4

Water the potting mix with rainwater or distilled water, and ideally leave for a week to allow the soil to reach optimum acidity. Never use tap water since carnivorous plants like acidic, nutrient-poor conditions and tap water is generally too alkaline with too many mineral nutrients.

3

Remove plants from pots and place them in their planting locations, making sure you leave room for plants to grow and expand without crowding each other. Plant so that the crowns of plants are just below the soil surface.

Water the plants well. They like to have damp conditions and a little water but not a huge amount, similar to a bog garden environment, so keep the medium moister than for other plants. Add a water-retaining mulch of sphagnum moss if you like. In time, moss will also grow naturally on the surface.

Care Advice

Where to site Keep in

spot but not one with scorching hot summer sun. Protect from frost by bringing them into a more sheltered spot like a porch or shed in winter.

‘Watering Keep water levels topped up and never let the potting mix dry out. When watering, water at the base of plants directly into the soil, so as not to wash off any sticky coating that plants have or cause stress, e. g. flytraps can close in alarm if watered from above. Make sure any pitchers on plants have a little water in them, too. Reduce watering in winter when plants are dormant, but still keep the surface slightly damp.

Carnivorous plants thrive on poor, nutrient-free soil, and you should not need to feed them since they get all their nutrients from insects they catch.

General Care Remove any dead foliage and pitchers to keep plants neat. The foliage will die down in the winter when plants are dormant but leave this on until late winter/early spring for added protection, removing old foliage at the base of the plants as new buds and tips emerge. Move the container to a less sunny but cool location while plants are dormant, where it will be protected from heavy frost and winter conditions. Wrap the container in bubble wrap and cover with garden fabric for added protection if winters are very harsh.

Make’it-yourself Concrete Planters