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By idontlikeforms
Posts:  144
Joined:  Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:12 am
#235443
Hi everyone.

For all of you in the carnivorous plant hobby please stop telling everyone to cut VFT flower stalks. I get email after email about this topic and have to explain over and over to beginners not to do this. Currently it has become common advice to tell beginner growers to cut off flower stalks that are emerging so that their new plants will not tire and die and their plants will then grow faster after the stalk is cut.

I have found this does not benefit the plant overall and often harms it. First of all the flower stalk itself photosynthesizes. So cutting it means the plant will photo synthesize less and consequently grow more slowly. Second the cut stalk often forms fungus where the stalk is cut if it is cut too low and this fungus often spreads to the growth point and can sometimes even kill the plant if it is not dealt with and cleaned. Third when the stalk finally begins to shed on its own if it is left on this always causes a big boost in the plants growth as it has poured a lot of resources into the flower stalk that are then reused at the growth points when the stalk finally sheds. If the stalk is cut this big boost in growth every Summer doesn't happen.

Instead the advice that should be given to beginners is to just pinch off the buds at the tip of the stalk. This will stop the plant from from flowering and exhausting itself. It sometimes still pushes out the stalk further and sometimes stops pushing it out. But the stalk still photosynthesizes just like its leaves and traps do and the plant will grow faster in the long run if it is left on with the just the buds on the tip of the stalk pinched off. And the plant will also receive its usual boost in growth when the rest of the stalk later recedes.

If you are cutting the stalk to make baby plants by planting the stalk it is still not a net benefit to cut the stalk. If the stalk is left on the plant it will later cause a boost in growth. VFTs if they grow a a lot make divisions and new plants will be formed this way instead that are more established, larger, and not so delicate. It's true that there will be less of them but these larger division can just divide sooner themselves because they are already closer to the a size where they like to divide again and make more plants. Also, VFTs especially like to make divisions in late Summer and early Fall, exactly the time that the receding flower stalk typically causes a boost in growth which then often really causes a boost in making natural divisions at the time the plant prefers to do this.

The only real benefit that I can see in cutting a VFT's flower stalk is if it going to be used for tissue culture.

So everyone please stop telling beginners to cut their flower stalks!
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By SerMuncherIV
Posts:  1209
Joined:  Sun May 31, 2015 5:59 pm
#235451
A very interesting point of view. I can see fungal infections as an issue indoors (where many beginners seem to be putting their flytraps), but outdoors there should be enough air circulation to prevent that. However, I don't believe that the flower stalk photosynthesizes enough to be beneficial to the plant - photosynthesis is usually done by surface area, and a flower stalk is highly inefficient at capturing light. I get your point about pinching off the flower buds, but the issue with that is that by the time the buds can be cleanly separated, the plant has already invested enough energy in them to make removing them a waste. Also, yes the nutrients reallocated from the withering flower stalk back to the plant do provide a boost in growth, but that won't help if the plant ends up dying in its weakened flowering state. The flower stalk takes a lot of energy from the growing plant, uses most of it, and simply returns the rest when it's done.

I do see a valid point with the fungal infections, and I agree with that. However, only VFTs growing indoors are likely to encounter that problem, and those plants will probably be weak enough to die anyway without help from the flowering process. Solution - unless you have a ludicrously expensive setup, GROW OUTDOORS AND AVOID HAVING TO CUT YOUR STALKS IN THE FIRST PLACE. You as an experienced and knowledgeable grower have probably found flowering to be good for VFTs, but beginners' plants are rarely in good enough condition to handle the stress.
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By Matt
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Posts:  22525
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#235455
This is interesting Joel! And some valid observations have been made on your part, for sure.

Each of the last 6 years or so, I have allowed quite a few plants to flower and set seed, while others I prefer to cut the flower stalks off to allow the plants to grow better. In my observations it has definitely proven true that plants that are allowed to flower are significantly set back in size and overall growth, including the number and size of divisions they produce.

So my observations and experience have been quite different, so I still advocate for cutting off flower stalks in order to have the healthiest and largest plant.
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By idontlikeforms
Posts:  144
Joined:  Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:12 am
#235460
I think you guys are missing my main point. I'm not arguing that allowing the plant to flower is best. I'm arguing that pinching off the buds on the top of the stalk is better than cutting off the whole stalk or even most of the stalk. I've done both cutting off the stalks as well as just pinching off the buds not several times each, not 100s of time each, 1000s of times each. And the results seem obvious to me that just pinching off the buds is much better for the plants health as well as for overall growth. Incidentally, I've never seen a plant with even an almost full stalk out but with the buds pinched off burn out and die. On the contrary they seem to keep growing well and are not set back by it at all.

Also, I do not tell my customers to let their plants flower. I tell them to just pinch the buds off unless they have already started to flower, in which case I tell them to just leave them.

I've seen fungal infections on cut stalks outside too. Keep in mind my sample for these observations is 1000s of times not just a few. If there is a lot of air movement they don't get the fungal infections as easily but if the stalk is cut very low, right down near the rhyzome, I've seen some get fungal infections there that spread. But this was in CA. So there is no rain half the year to wash away the fungal infection.
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By Matt
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Posts:  22525
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#235478
idontlikeforms wrote:I think you guys are missing my main point. I'm not arguing that allowing the plant to flower is best. I'm arguing that pinching off the buds on the top of the stalk is better than cutting off the whole stalk or even most of the stalk.
Ah, I did miss that. I've never even tried doing that. I'll have to give it a try with a reasonable sample size of plants and see what happens next year.
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By Jaws
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Posts:  1304
Joined:  Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:11 pm
#235481
Any species of plant where the seed isnt needed will be helped by removing the flowers.
The plant puts in lots of energy to produce flowers at the expense of other areas of the plant.
Thats my view (an educated general gardeners one)

As far as VFTs go the plant puts in energy producing the stalk that has to have the flowers at the end,so it IS beneficial
to cut it imo, a stalk isnt going to give that much photosynthesis in exchange for the huge energy reserves used to produce the stalk.
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By katya_dog1
Posts:  2412
Joined:  Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:45 pm
#235486
This makes sense to me. It's the seed setting that causes the plant the stress and energy. But with no seeds to form, the plant just keeps growing without any setback.

I would like to see some controlled research on this though.
By ps3isawesome
Posts:  981
Joined:  Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:09 pm
#235487
right??? This is really exciting!!! because i def don't want any fungal infection at the base of where i cut the flower stalk. IT'd be great if I could just pinch it off and kinda of even see the flower as well.
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By Jaws
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Posts:  1304
Joined:  Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:11 pm
#235493
I have quite a number of plants and cut the flower stalks when about an inch high (leaving a small amount on the plant) and never had fungal infection, if there is good air flow (i have mine in a cloche outside) there should be no problem.
Any part of any plant the grows that is of no use (from our perspective), still uses energy.

This thread subject is going to have varying views quite frankly, i dont feel there is any decisive one.
Last edited by Jaws on Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
By idontlikeforms
Posts:  144
Joined:  Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:12 am
#235507
VFTs make tall flower stalks. The reality is the plant does pour a lot of resources into their flower stalks. It's not like other plants that put much less resources into their flower stalks. This is why when the stalk recedes it powers so much growth. Obviously the stalk is not going to photosynthesize as efficiently as a leaf does. But that is not my point. The point is it does photosynthesize some. So even before the stalk recedes leaving it on does benefit plant growth.

Another benefit to just pinching of the buds is that you can do it a lot faster than cutting the stalk. To be more precise I pinch off the whole set of buds. Right at the top of the stalk just before it branches to support individual buds. That is where I pinch it off.

I work 70-80 hours a week right now and growing and selling these plants is what I do for a living. I'm not going to spend a lot of time debating this issue. But my advice to anyone here who is skeptical of my claim is to try it out rather than trying to brush off what I'm saying or reason it away. I actually didn't think to myself Hmmm I bet cutting just the buds off is better than cutting the whole stalk and then tinkered with my favorite hobby. I have to stop flowering with 100s if not 1000s of VFTs every year. It's not fun and interesting to me do this. It's work. I'd rather not have to do it. But while doing it I tried to find a way to do it faster and I noticed that by pinching off just the buds it usually stopped the plant from continuing to grow its stalk all or most of the way out and it is faster than getting a pair of scissors and clipping lower down. So because of the need to stop flowering more quickly I cut corners so to speak for lack of time and then noticed after a while that this actually seemed to help the plants grow faster.
Last edited by idontlikeforms on Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By idontlikeforms
Posts:  144
Joined:  Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:12 am
#235513
Another thin that is worth pointing out is that I am not suggesting the flower stalk should be allowed to grow out all the way or almost all the way and then pinch off the the buds. It is better to prevent the stalk from coming out all or most of the way. If you cut the stalk close to the ryhzome this usually stops the plant from pushing out the stalk more. If you cut the stalk higher up it sometimes comes out some more before stopping.

When you pinch off the buds it more often than not continues to come out some more and usually more than if you cut it instead lower down but it still will not usually extend out all the way before stopping. But I've seen that even if the stalk does come out some more after the buds are pinched off this still seems to make the plant grow faster than if the stalk was cut lower down and early on. But ideally it would be best to pinch off the buds once the stalk is only out an inch or so rather than waiting longer. I myself just can't always do that with my plants because there are so many that I can't get to all of them in time. So I sometimes have to pinch off the buds once the stalk is mostly out because of this.
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