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Discuss water requirements, "soil" (growing media) and suitable planting containers

Moderator: Matt

By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
In order to successfully grow carnivorous plants we must provide them with the right water, enough light and good (or should I say "poor") soil. The soil so many of us use is known as sphagnum peat moss or simply peat. It is devoid of nutrients and is acidic in nature, perfect for carnivorous plants. Its water retentiveness also makes it a valuable commodity amongst horticulturalists across the globe. The problem is... it isn't environmentally friendly nor is it particularly sustainable.

Peat bogs (or "moors"), where peat moss comes from, are under threat from industrialized extraction. The demand of peat requires mechanical diggers to mine the bogs at an alarming rate and leaves little room for recovery. Peat bogs are home to an astounding and beautiful variety of wildlife and plants - including sundews (drosera)! Many of these species of flora and fauna are at risk of becoming extinct.

The extraction of peat also releases carbon that has been trapped for potentially thousands of years into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

My reason for bringing this to your attention is because I want to put together a list of alternatives to mined peat and I really need your help to achieve that. Tell us all about your experiences with mined peat alternatives - what is it? Have your plants grown larger or faster because of it? And most importantly: where did you get this media from? Share with us what you have learned.

I will be compiling what each of you say and adding it to the list below. Please tell us your country of residence; it is important that these alternatives are categorized correctly as they won't all be available worldwide. Thank you!

The List of (mined) Peat Alternatives
European Union (EU)
Moorland Gold
It may be peat but isn't mined. Moorland Gold peat is a by-product of the water industry and is dredged peat picked up from filters entering water reservoirs, I have used it successfully with utricularia (although they have not been in the media for long so I cannot give a growth comparison). I have read of multiple people who have swapped over to Moorland Gold and I think it is a fantastic alternative until something entirely peat-free (that has been tried and tested thoroughly) can become available within the UK.

Have you had a positive (or negative) experience with Moorland Gold? Please let me know!

Moorland Gold is available from the following retailers:
The Organic Gardening Catalogue
Coir Bales
Recommended by bugman, these coir bales are completely salt free and have been used by many growers in the UK!

"This is a good read for those in the EU. The links to other threads related to issues with certain peat brands in the UK posted by mobile (the first 'reply' to the topic) is pretty useful as well. :)

What I've learned from the past 3-4 years of growing CPs is neverto use Westland since they use some sort of filler to add volume to their pea which is somewhat poisonous to most CPs.
" - Darkrai283

United States (US)

Canada (CAN)

Australia (AUS)

Other Regions
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By Darkrai283
Posts:  2491
Joined:  Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:28 pm
This is a good read for those in the EU. The links to other threads related to issues with certain peat brands in the UK posted by mobile (the first 'reply' to the topic) is pretty useful as well. :)

What I've learned from the past 3-4 years of growing CPs is never to use Westland since they use some sort of filler to add volume to the peat which is somewhat poisonous to most CPs.
Last edited by Darkrai283 on Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By bananaman
Posts:  2059
Joined:  Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:54 am
I suggest coco coir, but rinse it first.

Once it is rinsed, it works great!

You can use it for anything that peat is used in, just you must remember to wash it to remove salts (as most brands have these).
If you are as lucky as me and find a brand without salt, congrats!
I currently use it instead of peat, as I found one without salt, and I don't want to destroy CP habitat.
Also, if you want something acidic, this does not work, as coco coir is neutral.
It can work, however.
By dimitar
Posts:  676
Joined:  Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:06 am
Hey Grey and Marry Xmas!

I use Moorland gold peat , Irish moss peat, Canadian peat moss for all my plants over 7 years. These products are available in ours gardens centers and I can say that I'm satisfied with them as from moorland gold peat as well. But the problem with it is that there is a lot of grass ( moss) that grows very quickly over the surface of the pots which is sometimes problem especially for seeds, gemmae and seedlings. The moss from the moorland peat quickly covers still young plants or seedlings and it suffocates them. For the adult plants isn't a problem this grass.
Well, I have tried, however to sterilize small amounts of moorland peat as from the other brands peat which I pointed above of high temps and this way I tried to remove the spores of the moss which is inside the peat but this way doesn't help at all. It just slowes down the growing of the grass( moss) for some months but then appears again.

Here is an example with moorland gold.

Last edited by dimitar on Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By Leathal_Traps
Posts:  1311
Joined:  Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:27 am
Hey guys I have question. As I can see Dimitar in the pot. I am wondering two things. Number one, how do you make the peat be standing up straightly, all facing up, in such a neat way. Number two, how is it that you have the peat in the pot with no covering, and without it dying. When I put peat in a pot without covering the water evaporates, which causes it to die. My peat is in a pot with transparent plastic on the top to prevent it from drying.
By Ras
Posts:  805
Joined:  Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:57 am
thread necromancy:

has anyone tried using dry dead leaves?
the kind that litter the ground during fall.
they turn media and water acidc very fast, maybe if it was crumbled down it could be a media
I was also wondering if anyone has tried to recharge their peat's acidity this way aswell
in the aquarium hobby we boil indian almond leaves in water which releases the tannins making the water acidic (south american fish love it). has me wondering if it would be possible to reuse peat by watering with tannin water here and there. Indian almond leaves are also thought to be an anti fungal so it may help with moss and fungus growth aswell
if I remember correctly a big reason of why we repot is because all that distilled water flushes out the tannins in the peat right?
could be a way to make it last longer
just a thought
By Ras
Posts:  805
Joined:  Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:57 am
Jonathan_ wrote:What about just straight washed silica sand?
it may be hard to keep it wet w.o keeping it in water but topping it with peat or live sphag could help with most drosera, pings are fine in all silica and im not sure about the rest
User avatar
By steve booth
Posts:  1243
Joined:  Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:15 am
Hello all

The CPUK has been doing a lot of trials and tests as have the members, the latest proffered by Mike King no less, which he is growing his 300 + of his plants in now, is milled pine bark, perlite and two sizes of granite chips. This subject in the link below is also a good showing of a wood flake based media which looks to work extremely well and I have started a few plants off in it and some other derivations to try it out, the results so far are encouraging. ... opic=52070

As most of my plants are outside in bogs, not only is changing the media a backbreaking, tedious and very expensive chore, due to the quantities of media needed, it is also very wasteful, so what I do is when the media is looking 'tired', (you can tell as the soil gets ‘thin’ as it decomposes, gets less acidic, which releases the hitherto restrained nutrients into the media and the plants don’t look well) and rather than remove the plants and dig the media in the bogs all out and replant, what I do is, as the perlite doesn’t degrade( I use a 60/40 peat perlite mix in the bogs) I mix in with the old media, pine bark chips, the sort they use for mulching, some sulphur, for a reasonably quick increase in acidity and a relatively small quantity of peat. This replenishes the tannins, increases the acidity and opens the soil up for oxygen penetration. It works reasonably well and has done for many years. It may not be as good as a total media replacement, but hey I'm not growing specimen plants outside in the UK, it works and saves a lot of resources.

Eventually this new mix degrades and as it does so the volume gets smaller so there is always room to add more.

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By Adriana
Posts:  126
Joined:  Thu Oct 24, 2019 8:47 pm
Hello and welcome. Most CPs are very sensitive to contaminants, and unless the cardboard was treated and washed and washed again, I wouldn't use it. Besides that, it will glom together and suffocate the roots. They need air as well.

If you're in the US, you can get a block of coco coir from your hardware/garden store or online and rehydrate and soak/rinse until it has a low TDS, if you want ot avoid peat. You'll have to mix with perlite to keep it airy.

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