My kitchen has windows all around. This sounds beautiful and idyllic, doesn't it? Well, in Sydney windows all around translates into "greenhouse" and "heatstroke". As a result I've developed a bit of an obsession: odd plants. These beauties love being boiled to death in a humid, glass box. They flourish by devouring the bountiful flies and myriad of bugs born of an Australian summer. True, my collection is now slightly out of hand with no less that 12 different types of pitcher plants competing for the aforementioned flies, but they're just so PRETTY.
Most of my plants are either air plants or carnivorous plants. Air plants are pretty much fool proof. They don't even need soil, all they ask of you is a light spray of water twice a week in summer and once a week in winter. They thrive on neglect. Carnivorous plants are a whole other story. They will try to die at every available opportunity, so here are a few tips.
1. Only water them with demineralised water (like you would use in a car or an iron), avoid tap water like the plague. The minerals in tap water burn the roots of carnivorous plants and will kill them, eventually.
2. You have to keep them wet, especially during the summer. Most of these plants originated in swamps and like to have their roots submerged in water during summer. Put the potted plant on a saucer and then pour water into the saucer. Keep it full at all times.
3. These plants go dormant during the winter. There might not even be a trace of the plant left above the soil level. So, even if it appears that you have well and truly killed it, it will resurrect itself in spring.
4. Try not to repot your plant, but if you absolutely have to use a mix of sphagnum moss (dead or alive), sphagnum peat moss and propagating sand (not river or sea sand). Read more here.
5. Don't let your venus flytrap flower. When the plant flowers it often uses so much energy creating the flower that it dies. If you see a flower stalk cut it off.
6. Buy them online. It's much cheaper and there's more variety. I bought my last batch from Triffid Park.
Finally, here's is a run down of some of my kitchen occupants.
Stag Horn Fern
An epiphyte or air plant, in the wild the "nest" structure of the Stag Horn captures falling leaves and other detritus which then decomposes to provide the plant with nutrients, hence why there is no need for soil. In propagated plants, some growers recommend adding used tea leaves directly to the plant's "nest". Others recommend doing the same with banana peels.
Sundews comprise one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, with at least 194 species. These plants lure, capture, and digest insects using stalked mucilaginous glands covering their leaf surfaces. The leaves then curl around the insect to aid digestion.
These carnivorous plants attract insects with a nectar-like secretion on the lip of pitchers, as well as a combination of color and scent. Slippery footing at the pitchers' rim, aided in at least one species by a narcotic drug lacing the nectar, causes insects to fall inside, where they die and are digested by the plant as a nutrient source.
Tillandsia species are epiphytes, they normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support. Moisture and nutrients are gathered from the air (dust, decaying leaves and insect matter) through structures on the leaves called trichomes.
The trapping mechanism of a venus flytrap is so specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey stimuli such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession within 20 seconds of each other or one hair touched twice in rapid succession, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut in about one-tenth of a second.
Hanging Pitcher plants
Popularly known as tropical pitcher plants or monkey cups, Nepenthes are a genus oF carnivorous plants in the Nepenthaceae family. Prey usually consists of insects, but the larger species may occasionally catch small vertebrates, such as rats, lizards and birds.