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Starting to grow carnivorous plants again

Nepenthes Ventrata and Nepenthes Mirabilis pitcher plants hanging in shady spot to rest after travel

So 2016 had been a pain. With my father ill for the first three months, then dying, Nisarga going through three surgeries and spending five months out of it in a cast in total, personal stress…. my carnivorous plants got neglected and died at some point. For that matter, my balcony too was mostly barren and pests on the few plants that remained. I decided to begin 2017 on a fresh note for my balcony farming as well as carnivorous plant growing. And the start is looking promising. I will be posting updates, but for now, here are some images of my first nepenthes plants to kick things off.

I confess, sick of my barren balconies, I went on something of a spree. These Nepenthes are the first to arrive.

Nepenthes are commonly called pitcher plants and grow in humid, tropical climates. They are broadly divided into highland and lowland nepenthes, depending on the altitude at which they grow. I’m mostly buying lowland nepenthes, given that Nalasopara (near Mumbai) is hardly any elevation from the sea.

All in all

Nepenthes mirabilis and Nepenthes Ventrata
Nepenthes Mirabilis and Nepenthes Ventrata soon after unboxing.

All in all, they were pretty well packed and traveled well. The Nepenthes Mirabilis is the one on the left. Its leaves look a bit worrisome with the dark spots and overall unhealthy look. The Nepenthes Ventrata is the one on the right. It seems just fine – at least to my inexperienced eye.

 

unhealthy nepenthes mirabilis
Unhealthy Nepenthes Mirabilis pitcher plant showing damage from travel.

I sent the pictures of the Nepenthes Mirabilis to the seller, and he assures me that it is just dampness and travel stress and that he will replace the plant for me at no cost if it does not recover. I am supposed to keep the plants in a shady location for a while and give them some humidity to keep them happy. I have just misted them before taking these photos.

The Nepenthes Ventrata seems to be doing fine. The water in the pitcher had spilled during travel, so I put very little distilled water inside it. All my reading indicates that this may or may not be useful and there is nothing conclusive about it, but I figured that if the plant likes humidity, having a dry pitcher may not exactly be fun after travel stress. Don’t we head for a glass of water on returning home tired? So I gave it some :p

nepenthes ventrata pitcher
Pitcher on Nepenthes Ventrata pitcher plant had lost water in shipping. I put very little distilled water into it to help it settle. I have no idea if it helps.

The pitcher itself looks fine, though many have said that it is common for a nepenthes to lose all the pitchers that it shipped with as it acclimatizes to a new location. I do hope it doesn’t lose this one. On the other hand, it is a good measure of how well the plant is doing, I guess. If this pitcher doesn’t die and the other one just forming forms normally and opens, I suppose I can say all is well.

So, fingers crossed. Hope the rest of the plants arrive safely and thrive here as well.

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Drosera seeds germinating

Adding to my carnivorous plants collection are the germinating drosera seeds. They are too tiny to see with the naked eye, but magnified, you can see the tiny green sprouts.

I have these growing on wet dry sphagnum (as in dry sphagnum with water added :p) in small plastic cups, so the light gets reflected and the digital camera makes for rather poor pictures. I’m experimenting with ways to get a better image, but this is it for now.

Drosera Spatulata seed germinating - Day 2. You can't see much other than some white with spiky stuff sticking out, but under a small microscope, this is green and the white is tiny fragile hair.
Drosera Spatulata seed germinating – Day 2. You can’t see much other than some white with spiky stuff sticking out, but under a small microscope, this is green and the white is tiny fragile hair.
Drosera Spatulata seed germinating - Day 4. You can't see much other than some white with spiky stuff sticking out, but under a small microscope, there are two green leaf-blobs and the white is tiny fragile hair.
Drosera Spatulata seed germinating – Day 4. You can’t see much other than some white with spiky stuff sticking out, but under a small microscope, there are two green leaf-blobs and the white is tiny fragile hair.
drosera madagascarensis seed germinating
Drosera Madagascarensis germination – Day 7 When watching through an optical microscope, you can see tiny, tiny leaves.

Substrate: Sphagnum moss.

Method: Rinse sphagnum moss really, really well, put in small plastic cups, sprinkle seeds on top. RO water initially, but any water that needs to be added further is distilled (to avoid salt build up). The cups are small, sit on window sill or shelf with lots of bright light without being in direct sunlight. I am not using a plastic cover, for these and they seem to be doing fine, but the others I’m growing on tissue paper had to be covered.

At the moment the cups neither have drainage nor sit in a tray of water, but once the plants grow a bit and water requirements go higher, I’ll be transplanting them to their real pots, or punching holes in the bottom to sit in tray. To add water without displacing seeds, I drizzle it down the side of the cup instead of pouring on substrate.

None of these sprouts is larger than 1mm yet.