I guess when I really think about things it seems to me that there wasn't any aspect of the growing process that I am 100% confident I approached 100% correctly with these initial 10 seeds (due either to my own ignorance or to other unfortunate circumstances, and despite having read the very helpful instructions on the flytrap website). With that in mind, I guess what I'm most interested in is getting a sense of where to place my priorities: I don't have a ton of expendable income at the moment, and my apartment itself is less than ideal as a growing environment (dry, dim, variable in its temperature, heating doesn't really work so well). As a result I'm uncertain of my ability to go about things in a perfect/totally optimal manner, so that my goal here I suppose is more just to come away with an understanding of what few things I can do that will improve my chances of achieving germination the most.
But then on the other hand I'll of course be happy to take whatever advice I can get. Thank you for whatever thoughts/insights you can provide!
For starters, here are some photos....
This is how the seeds spent the bulk of their time as they were germinating/attempting to germinate (I'll elaborate on everything below).
View of the medium I was using.
This is the one seed that managed to germinate.
My lone germination alongside what I think is one of its less-successful fellows.
Around Thanksgiving (about a month or so after the planting) I started to notice these mysterious seaweed-like growths, which almost seem to resemble zombie sphagnum moss that's come back to life? Not sure if anyone knows what these are or what they might indicate, but I'm very curious!
This is the light source which I ultimately ended up using, after realizing that my window wasn't getting as much sun as I'd hoped (stick of deodorant is for scale).
Overall Recounting of My Attempts
In descending order of concern/likelihood of having been the cause of my problems, by my own estimation
I used about 50% long fiber sphagnum moss and 50% sand. I purchased both of these at Home Depot, and was assured by an employee there that the bag of sand I was purchasing was silica. That being said, in the days since then I've begun to wonder whether the sand that I bought was in fact part of the problem. The brand was Mosser Lee white sand (https://www.mosserlee.com/product/551_Sands.aspx), and the bag says that it's "for interior house plants," but it doesn't make any explicit mention of being 100% silica or anything. In any case, for my remaining 10 seeds I was planning on ditching it and going with perlite instead.
Secondly, there's also the fact that the sphagnum I bought was long-fibered rather than peat, which I've since gathered is the preferred option. The resulting medium (see photos above) did strike me as a little weird in its shape/topography, in that it felt kind of more like just a big bushy tangle rather than what I'd typically think of as dirt. But then again maybe that's not something that the seeds themselves actually care about?
You'll notice that by now much of the sand has pooled towards the bottom of the container as well. Not sure if that's a bad sign on top of everything else.
In any case, it does seem to me that as far as soil is concerned there is much that might have gone wrong.
As mentioned above, the heating situation in my apartment isn't so great (relevant in that I live in NYC, where we are beginning to enter into the shank of the wintertime). The general atmosphere of my unit tends to vacillate between uncomfortably hot (by my human standards at least) and then slightly chilly. I've in general been keeping my growing container on my dresser, which is next to a window (making it slightly colder), but also next to the heater (obviously making it hotter, at least when the heater is functional). At around mid-November or so I purchased a tiny thermometer which has been indicating to me that the air outside of the container is consistently above (but often not much above) 70 degrees. I know that this is less than the ideal listed on the website's instructions, but I'm not sure how much of an issue that deficiency is likely to represent.
Separately (in case it's relevant), they spend about 5 hours every day in a different part of the room that tends to run slightly warmer - this is when they're receiving lamplight (as where they're pictured above).
This too was something I changed my mind about over the course of the several weeks. At the very beginning I think that the seeds must have been getting a less than optimal amount of sunlight. Among other things, for the two weeks or so I was covering the tupperware not with saran wrap, as pictured above, but with a punctured tupperware lid that was red and completely opaque, meaning that the only sunlight that was reaching the seeds was whatever was able to filter through the sides. I eventually realized that error and substituted the opaque red topper for the saran wrap. However, it was still seeming to me as though the amount of sunlight they were getting was probably less than ideal. I had them on a south-facing window, but I work late nights and so wasn't opening up the blinds until about 11am; they would then get more or less direct sunlight until maybe noon or so (perhaps as late as 1pm), at which point the sun would start to hide behind the building directly to the south of mine, and I think that that was about it for the day. So then I found a CFL light bulb and started leaving them beneath my lamp in the configuration pictured above for about 5 hours or so every day (sometimes longer if I was out of the house). The bulb measures about two feet from the surface of the soil mixture.
I did not, however, do much to adjust the seeds to their new light source when I made this switch, which consequently was pretty abrupt. So maybe that was part of the problem? That error, along with the low amount of light they were receiving in the beginning, seem like the two major stumbling blocks I had with lighting.
The apartment at large has been very dry, and increasingly so as we've entered further into the winter months and the heating and had to kick itself into increasingly high gears. That being said, the surface soil has been moist whenever I've tested it, so I'm thinking that this was less of a concern.
I don't think that watering would have been an issue. If it was, the problem would probably have been over-watering instead of under-watering. When I planted the seeds I purchased a spray bottle and a couple jugs of distilled water, which I would then spray into the container once or twice a day until it drained out from the holes I'd carved into the bottom.
Apologies for the lengthiness of the foregoing! - hopefully it's structured in a way that allows ppl to skim past whatever they deem to be irrelevant.
My tentative plan has been to purchase 1) Perlite, 2) Sphangum peat moss, and 3) a desk lamp (along with maybe a CFL bulb in a cooler color), and then to keep pretty much everything else the same (meaning that the temperature situation wouldn't change, for example). Is it possible to get a sense of how likely those measures alone are to solve my problems? Addressing the issue of temperature seems to me like something that would be much more involved, meaning that I would love to avoid having to do so if possible haha; that being said, if it seems like low or inconsistent temperatures are most likely to have been my culprit, I might just have to do some more thinking.
Thank you again for whatever thoughts or responses you can share! And of course I'm happy to provide additional details if amidst everything else I've actually managed to leave out the parts that are most important.