San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Fly Life: Carnivorous Plants Come Out for #SharkWeek

Photos by Tim King and Ryan Benoit

It’s Shark Week, everybody! We’re honoring this hallowed summer tradition by spotlighting our favorite garden chompers, carnivorous plants. Welcome…to #CarnivoreWeek. All week on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat we’ll be posting a terrifying amount of carnivorous plants. Join us (if you dare) by tagging your photos #CarnivoreWeek on Instagram.

Two weekends ago we went to the San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society’s annual show and sale in Balboa Park. We entered with a mission to pick up some more flytraps for our own yard, and ended up taking home some rare species, and learning from the experts who were there. (We’re switching some of our plant media to long-fiber sphagnum moss based on one of those conversations.)

We gawked. We geeked. Carnivorous plant people are passionate, we observed! And the Sarracenias, Nepenthes, flytraps, sundews, sun pitchers, and pings they displayed — for show and sale — were breathtaking. We were introduced to Darlingtonias, which resemble sock puppet serpents. We met IRL the same Instagram friend who first told us about the society.

See them all — the carnivores and the people who love them — below…

—TH

San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society 2016 Plant Sale

We found ourselves back at the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego. We recently attended the 2016 San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society plant sale in this same location (see our recap here). And in 2014 we attended the Epiphyllum Society Show.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Our Instagram friend — and now real-life friend — Taelor. He cultivates an incredible collection of carnivorous plants, and is a brilliant artist. (We took home one of his original Nepenthes drawings.) Follow him on Instagram.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Taelor is moving to Florida with his family this summer; at his new home he’ll be able to grow lowland Nepenthes (which require higher humidity) outside of a greenhouse.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

The Predatory Plants booth drew a constant crowd the entire time we were there. Devon Peterson helped us (along with so many others) select some beauties from a wide variety of healthy carnivorous plants. Be sure to check out the Predatory Plants online store! Also, head over to Devon’s photo-rich and resourceful carnivorous blog sundew-etc.com.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Member Amber Young is an amazing illustrator of carnivorous plants (and beyond). She designed the event’s flyer below.

Cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

California pitcher plant, cobra lily, or cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica). Do they look like cartoon snakes or what?

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Darlingtonia californica is native to the mountainous regions of northern California and southern Oregon. It was the only California native plant at the show, so we decided to take one home for $14.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We learned that the cobra lily in its native environment enjoys low-nutrient bogs and seeps with cool running water at its roots. To mimic this environment in our coastal California garden, we’ll need to water more often (daily) during the hotter summer months.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Once inside the trap, insects attempt to escape through translucent false exits before tiring and falling into the digestive fluids. ROAR.

Sun Pitcher (Heliamphora)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor (sun pitcher) is a species of marsh pitcher plant native to Gran Sabana, a region in southeastern Venezuela.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

A bit on the pricey side ($150), this may not be the best plant for beginners based on these care requirements.

Butterworts (Pinguicula)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Our Pinguicula obsession may have started with this display by Alexis Wallick.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

At first glance this ping could be mistaken for an Aeonium ‘Zwartkopf.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We’re now in love with pings! Also known as butterworts, these plants entrap insects on the surface of their leaves, luring thirsty prey with the suggestion of water droplets. Pings thrive in bright indirect light (or early morning/late afternoon direct light).

Sundews (Drosera)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

The sundew show display.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We were impressed with this forked leaf sundew display. Sundews are some of easiest of carnivorous plants to grow and great at catching gnats and tiny fleas with their slimy tentacle-like leaves.

Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Nepenthes ‘Miranda’. We grow our Miranda in our outdoor shower tropical pitcher plant habitat. Nepenthes do not grow in boggy soils like all the other carnivores at the show. Nepenthes enjoy consistently moist  yet well drained soil since the roots need to breathe. They are native to the tropical regions of Asia.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Nepenthes bicalcarata ‘Sarawalk Red Giant.’ We love this lowland hybrid. Look closely under the lids and you’ll notice a set of fangs!

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

See the fangs? We wish we could grow this lowland species, but most lowlands are better suited for very hot and humid climates — think steamy jungles in coastal Borneo.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Nepenthes spectabilis x hamata.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Maggie Chen showed off her collections of Nepenthes and flytraps. She recommended we switch our flytrap soil medium to 100% long fiber sphagnum moss. We did! When she’s not tending her bloodthirsty plants, you’ll likely find her training at MC2 FIT.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Maggie pulled the protective cover off this very rare Nepenthes edwardsiana, which is known for having the most highly developed peristome ribs of any species in the genus.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

A closer look at those impressive peristome ribs.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Nepenthes × hookeriana by Sean Sadler of Wine Country Carnivores.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

…also called Hooker’s Pitcher Plant.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We wanted to snuggle up next to this fuzzy Nepenthes glandulifera.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Nepenthes species.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We just love the diversity of this genus! So we picked up two plants from the Predatory Plants booth.

North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia)

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Like trapping wasps naturally? Sarracenia may be your answer. The genus is native to the southeast US and is super easy to grow.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Sarracenia ‘Moorei.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Sarracenia x Fledgling (left).

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Sarracenia ‘Abandon Hope.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Just look at that operculum (lid)! The contrast and coloring of the operculum attracts prey (mainly wasps) while also preventing rainwater from filling the pitchers and diluting the digestive fluid.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Jason Hooton (right) recently launched Dark Horse Carnivores. We love their slogan, ‘Come to the dark side—it’s beautiful here.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

A herd of Sarracenia x catesbaei ‘Red Head.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

A sea of Sarracenia…and another redhead.

Venus Flytraps

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Now on to the flytraps. Here’s a Dionaea muscipula ‘B52.’ The B52 is known for its gigantic traps, and is a must-have for any collector. We got ours several years ago from California Carnivores.

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Dionaea muscipula, or Venus flytraps, come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and even mutations!

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

A well-fed Dionaea muscipula ‘G14 Rosetted.’

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

Allyson Long, president of the San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society. This was the the San Diego Society’s first-ever sale!

San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society Show and Sale

We hope to see you at a future meeting!

  • Jason Hooton

    Thank you for such a great article on our first show. It was a pleasure to be part of and I’m proud of the commitment of our group to not only educate but also share the joy we get from our plants and fellow growers.

    Jason Hooton
    Dark Horse Carnivores
    Come to the Dark Side…….. Facebook.com/DarkHorseCarnivores

    • Jason, it was so great meeting you and the family and the plants. We hope our boggy paths cross again soon.

      • Jason Hooton

        I am sure they will. Thanks so much