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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Member Amber Young is an amazing illustrator of carnivorous plants (and beyond). She designed the event’s flyer below.
Cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica)
California pitcher plant, cobra lily, or cobra plant (Darlingtonia californica). Do they look like cartoon snakes or what?
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.
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.
Once inside the trap, insects attempt to escape through translucent false exits before tiring and falling into the digestive fluids. ROAR.
Sun Pitcher (Heliamphora)
Heliamphora heterodoxa x minor (sun pitcher) is a species of marsh pitcher plant native to Gran Sabana, a region in southeastern Venezuela.
A bit on the pricey side ($150), this may not be the best plant for beginners based on these care requirements.
Our Pinguicula obsession may have started with this display by Alexis Wallick.
At first glance this ping could be mistaken for an Aeonium ‘Zwartkopf.’
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).
The sundew show display.
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)
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.
Nepenthes bicalcarata ‘Sarawalk Red Giant.’ We love this lowland hybrid. Look closely under the lids and you’ll notice a set of fangs!
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.
Nepenthes spectabilis x hamata.
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.
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.
A closer look at those impressive peristome ribs.
…also called Hooker’s Pitcher Plant.
We wanted to snuggle up next to this fuzzy Nepenthes glandulifera.
We just love the diversity of this genus! So we picked up two plants from the Predatory Plants booth.
North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia)
Like trapping wasps naturally? Sarracenia may be your answer. The genus is native to the southeast US and is super easy to grow.
Sarracenia x Fledgling (left).
Sarracenia ‘Abandon Hope.’
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.
Jason Hooton (right) recently launched Dark Horse Carnivores. We love their slogan, ‘Come to the dark side—it’s beautiful here.’
A herd of Sarracenia x catesbaei ‘Red Head.’
A sea of Sarracenia…and another redhead.
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.
Dionaea muscipula, or Venus flytraps, come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and even mutations!
A well-fed Dionaea muscipula ‘G14 Rosetted.’
Allyson Long, president of the San Diego Carnivorous Plant Society. This was the the San Diego Society’s first-ever sale!
We hope to see you at a future meeting!