Tuesday 15 October 2019

My Pet Plants ... the carnivores living on my window sill

It all started with the teenager. He saw them in the garden centre, and was immediately fascinated. And, as I've always been keen for him to share my love of gardening and the natural world, it wasn't hard for him to persuade me to buy them. So, home they came.

At first I was unsure about them. They struck me as being the delicate, demanding sort of plants that don't survive long in the spartan conditions of my care regime. Let's just say I'm not the most consistent of pot-plant parents. My charges tend either to be forgotten about completely, or over-watered to the point of root-rot and gangrene. It's a harsh climate in my house that's best suited to bomb-proof cacti and succulents that can withstand weeks of neglect.

But, determined not to disappoint the teenager by killing his new pet plants, I placed them on my very best south-facing window sill where I can't help but see them multiple times every day, and made a note-to-self about stepping up a gear and trying not to kill them - for at least a month or two, anyway.

Quite miraculously and against the odds, they and I seem to have found a way of getting along together. Their care labels advised me that they were swamp plants, and I've discovered that in a well-ventilated room it's very, very difficult to over-water them. So, four months' down the line, they've not succumbed to root rot and gangrene.

I've noticed how flies from the garden tend to be attracted to them. I've read that they secrete nectar to attract them, and I've had a good old sniff, but haven't spotted any tell-tale odours. Indeed we've all watched with interest to see how many flies they catch.  The Venus Flytrap, true to its name, has caught a few. Like a new mum whose toddler has just taken his first step, I was really excited when I spotted its first victim, and then alarmed when that cup went black and died off - a frenzied check of the gardening books reassured me that this was normal.

I suspect that the pitcher plant is a little more discrete, and that deep down at the base of those finger-sized pitchers there's a host of half-digested bugs. 

The books tell me that they're both going to die back for a period of hibernation over the November to March period, which will be traumatic for me as my unconscious will insist that I've killed them! 

All the best for now,

Bonny x