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Discuss fertilization techniques here. For advanced growers only!

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By bisnicks
Posts:  140
Joined:  Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:13 pm
I feel like the plants being tested should all be clones of one another. The tray method would allow for equal watering and a directly overhead grow light should also allow for equal lighting.
By happiness
I'd like to try this wheat germ myself. ;)

Just have to find it at the store, never heard of it before. :-O
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
You're right bisnicks. With all the variation in these plants these days, using clones would be an ideal choice. At least it would eliminate one potential variable. The tests would have to be done indoors too because it would be easier to keep out stray bugs that might skew the results if too many got in.
A test like this is definitely a big, complex undertaking.
To make the sample size smaller and more manageable, makes every result more important. With a large sample size small variations in the results can get averaged out but that can't happen with a small sample size. Then you have to spend time investigating the anomalies to see if they are valid or just odd data points.
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
Dear happiness,
I get my wheat germ at Walmart but I'm sure many grocery stores must have it. It comes in a 12 oz glass jar with a red label. The brand name is Kretschmer. It comes in toasted and untoasted varieties, but my Walmart only carries the toasted variety these days. I think it's in the cereal isle.
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By happiness
Do you just put some in a trap? or do you get it a little soggy?

.. I ended up putting a little dash of water into the wheat germ and putting it in a typical and seed grown VFT.
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
Hi happiness,
Wheat germ is soft but dry right out of the jar so it needs to be moistened. I use the same distilled water I buy for watering the plants. It absorbs the water easily and can be mashed into a paste. Then I use a toothpick to pick up a small amount of the sticky paste, depending on the trap size, and I place it into the trap.
Because it doesn't move like a live bug, every couple minutes I gently squeeze the trap a few times so the trigger hairs inside feel the pressure. I do this for about 15 minutes. By then you should be able to see that the trap is beginning to seal tighter. Then just let the plant do its thing. When the trap opens there will be a little bit of light tan residue inside. It will usually be flattened by the trap pressure and it tends to stick inside the open trap so I feed a trap only once so I won't have to worry about the residue being in the way of the second feeding. Bug skeletons also often are stuck in place so this isn't really different.
Sometimes when mine eat a bug the trap will develop a black spot and begin to die. This has not happened when I use this food.
In other posts I talk about other things I add to the wheat germ like alfalfa and liquid seaweed. These both have growth stimulants. If you're interested in trying these additives let me know and I'll give you the details. I don't want to take up space here since it has been discussed elsewhere.
I attached a photo of the residue left in an open trap. This is residue from wheat germ + alfalfa. Wheat germ is all soft material from inside the wheat seed. It is the embryo of the new plant. The alfalfa leaves more residue than the wheat germ because it contains hard material. The growth stimulant it contains is on its surface only.
Residue after digesting wheat germ and alfalfa meal.
Residue after digesting wheat germ and alfalfa meal.
Residue2.jpg (53.05 KiB) Viewed 3147 times
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By happiness
Where could I get these other two ingredients? The farmer next door actually grows alfalfa for his cows.. Would that work? xD
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
You're lucky happiness, you have a great supply of alfalfa. I have to go to a farm supply store for mine, not common in my suburbs, but at least it's already ground up and dried.
The liquid seaweed I get from a nursery that carries a lot of the new kinds of products that have become popular lately. The brand name is Maxicrop, but there are others also. They are all made from kelp seaweed which contains several different growth stimulants. The recommended dose when watering plants is 1 oz per gallon of water. I use a more dilute solution when feeding the flytraps. I don't use it all the time because it can be high in some elements like potassium and iodine and maybe sodium (but that's not listed in the analyses I've seen.) As long as it's in concentrated form it will keep for a long time. I've had good results using kelp extracts on other plants.

With the alfalfa, the growth stimulant is called Triacontanol. It is present in the waxy coating on the leaves. You don't need much, it is most effective in concentrations of about 10 to 100 parts per million. The easiest thing to do is add a little alfalfa to the wheat germ and let them soak up some water and soften. Then they can be mashed easily. Dry alfalfa meal is hard to crush to a fine powder. It's nice and soft when wet. Just use a little alfalfa because although the Triacontanol is well known to be a potent stimulant, it is also well known that using too much will stunt a plant's growth. It's a long chain alcohol (30 carbons.) In case you're wondering, nobody knows how it works.
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By xr280xr
Posts:  2806
Joined:  Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:29 pm
I was thinking the other day how it would seem logical for some species of plant to become cannibalistic (feed on other plants) before evolving to carnivory. Plants like bromeliads are always trapping leaves and junk in them, it could easily be a little mulch factory. But then it also occurred to me, if plants could digest plant tissue, wouldn't they digest themselves? :p
Leilani Kimiko wrote: I also recently posted a photo of a plant with very large traps. It is not a special plant, just the type you buy at Home Depot. The trap was 1.05" end to end when I posted the photo. Now I have a bigger trap at least 1.1" on the same plant. It's had nothing but wheat germ and alfalfa since it came out of dormancy a few months ago.
Cool idea! Did you have a control for this experiment? Without one, those results would be pretty inconclusive since flytraps will grow large and flower without trapping any prey at all.
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
Hi. There was no "control" for the experiment. It wouldn't have done much good anyway since the origin of the plants from Home Depot is unknown so I wouldn't know what to expect from any given plant. Nor do I have any way to measure the concentration of growth stimulants in my mixtures. My purpose was simply to give the most nutritious food I could. Since fertilization via the roots is not a good option, I chose to give organic "fertilizer" to the traps which are already prepared to handle most things that fall into them.

I like the protein, carb, etc. analysis of wheat germ and it's cheap and easy to use. I often soften it with a solution of liquid seaweed (from kelp). I've had good results giving kelp extracts to other kinds of plants so I give it to the flytraps too. Alfalfa has been known to contain a growth stimulant for nearly a hundred years, or so. It's called Triacontanol (also called Melissyl alcohol and Myricyl alcohol ). It's just a long chain alcohol which causes plants to grow very well when used in small amounts (10-100 ppm). Higher concentrations stunt growth. Nobody knows why a simple alcohol should have this effect but it does. It's contained in the waxy coating on the alfalfa leaves. Since so little is needed, I don't try to remove it. I just powder the alfalfa meal and add this to the final mix.

I don't feed these things to the flytraps dry. I let them soak and soften then I mash it all up and use it as a paste. This is especially necessary for the kelp meal because the good stuff is inside the cells and soaking and mashing gets it out. It's this material inside the cells that is digested, not the cell walls. Depending on how much I'm working with, I'll sometimes remove the kelp solids from the juicy stuff by squeezing it through a rag. Removing the solids also allows me to water other plants with the extract without having the useless part of the kelp pile up in the pots.
Posts:  2
Joined:  Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:37 pm
Vegetarian may not be the right word, it implies a choice. Animals that eat only plants aren't vegetarians, they're herbivores. You may get more support for a non-insect diet if you avoid the whole vegetarian label. I'm not saying herbivore is completely accurate either, but it does avoid the anthropomorphizing.
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
I think using the term 'vegetarian' is just fine. The plant can't choose so I did. Instead of feeding it insects (meat) I was feeding it plant based nutrients, hence 'vegetarian'. I wasn't trying to be 100% correct with the terminology, I simply wanted to point out the totally different source of nutrients and how well they work. 'Meat' is not necessary.
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By Grabba37
Posts:  58
Joined:  Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:17 pm
I’m very interested in this. It’s a great idea!
By Leilani Kimiko
Posts:  61
Joined:  Fri May 17, 2013 6:38 pm
Thank you Grabba37 for your interest!
I had very good results with this and no problems at all. Sometimes live bugs try to crawl out of the trap,or worse, eat a hole in the side to escape. Even if they don't sometimes the remains can get moldy but the residue from the kelp and alfalfa is just a small piece of dry, flattened plant fiber.

The only tricky part is when I have a piece of sticky mashed food on a toothpick, I have to get it to come off in the trap before the trap closes. Usually if the trap closes and the food is still on the toothpick, I can carefully pull the toothpick out and the food will stay in the trap. I use lumps of food small enough for the traps to close around completely.

BTW, I still think the term vegetarian is fine. What else could you call them "Herbivorous Herbs"? That's a bit confusing. Maybe "Venusian Vegetarian Vegetation"?

Good Luck.
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By Volmen
Posts:  100
Joined:  Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:46 pm
Vegetarian sounds better to me even though it the Venus’s-flytrap didn’t have a choice in the matter! Since vegetarian is a lifestyle/choice.

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