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By Minorhero
Posts:  4
Joined:  Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:34 pm
#351458
Hello folks,

I have been interested in venus flytraps since I was a kid but always shied away because I was told they were hard to keep alive.

Now that I'm a little older and hopefully a little wiser (or maybe just better able to do research) I'm ready to tackle this critter and see if I can make it work. My other hobby is planted aquariums, so I am not unfamiliar with the needs of plants.

The biggest hickup is supplies. My state is on lockdown right now so I want to see if I can make do with what I already have on hand. I have a few blocks of coconut coir, a bag of pool filter sand, and a bag Safe-T-Sorb (calcined clay). My plan is to use this for my substrate. Can it work?

Another question I have is about ground cover. I am planning for flytraps and pitcher plants in one pot but I wanted something like a living moss to cover the rest of the surface area. Looking at pictures online of flytraps in the wild I see pictures that look like hair cap moss around flytraps. Something like that I think would look nice. But would this affect the growing habits of the traps? Can anyone recommend a living ground-cover that won't interfere with the carnivorous plants? Thank you folks for any help!
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By sanguinearocks101
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Posts:  1161
Joined:  Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:56 am
#351460
Coconut coir can be good but it often has too much salt in it. If it says that it has been exposed to rain for at least 3 monsoon seasons or something like that then it should be safe. If not you can get a tds meter and rinse the coir out until it has a low ppm(I am not sure how low it has to be but hopefully another person will tell you). I think you would be fine just with the coir and sand.
By Minorhero
Posts:  4
Joined:  Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:34 pm
#351463
I have a TDS meter already so good to go there. The coir was sold as a plant medium for terrariums but I will wash it out and see if I can get the tds to be the same as my tap water. My tap water has tds ranging from 75 to 100 depending on the season so my reading is this is the upper range of possible for flytraps? Should I be worried about anything else for water parameters such as nitrate, gh, kh?
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By Matt
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Posts:  21200
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#351479
Welcome to FlytrapCare!
Minorhero wrote:I have been interested in venus flytraps since I was a kid but always shied away because I was told they were hard to keep alive.
Not true! They're super easy to grow. They do have a few very strict rules that, unfortunately, also make them very easy to kill. But follow just 3 or 4 rules strictly and you will soon have more flytraps than you know what to do with!
Minorhero wrote:blocks of coconut coir, a bag of pool filter sand, and a bag Safe-T-Sorb (calcined clay). My plan is to use this for my substrate. Can it work?
I doubt it would work well right out of the gate. Many years ago now, Steve Doonan, an expert grower, did a lot of experiments with coir. Most coir he bought had a lot of salt in it and had to be repeatedly soaked to get the mineral content down to a usable level. I believe it took him something on the order of 10 rinses with rain water to get the PPM down to where it wouldn't kill the flytraps. And even after that, the pH of the coir is a little more alkaline than flytraps like, so they didn't grow as well in the coir, though they did grow and survive. If at all possible, try to track down a bag of sphagnum peat.
Minorhero wrote:Can anyone recommend a living ground-cover that won't interfere with the carnivorous plants?
The most common one used is live sphagnum. For larger flytraps, it works well. For smaller flytraps, it can outgrow them and crowd them out, so it might need some maintenance to keep it cut back around the flytrap itself.
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By Minorhero
Posts:  4
Joined:  Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:34 pm
#351490
Matt wrote: Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:35 pm
I doubt it would work well right out of the gate. Many years ago now, Steve Doonan, an expert grower, did a lot of experiments with coir. Most coir he bought had a lot of salt in it and had to be repeatedly soaked to get the mineral content down to a usable level. I believe it took him something on the order of 10 rinses with rain water to get the PPM down to where it wouldn't kill the flytraps. And even after that, the pH of the coir is a little more alkaline than flytraps like, so they didn't grow as well in the coir, though they did grow and survive. If at all possible, try to track down a bag of sphagnum peat.

The most common one used is live sphagnum. For larger flytraps, it works well. For smaller flytraps, it can outgrow them and crowd them out, so it might need some maintenance to keep it cut back around the flytrap itself.
This is fantastic information, thank you! Since I already have the coir and its literally been doing nothing for 3 years I will take a small portion and soak it. I will measure tds and ph and see what it looks like. I will have a very small margin for giving it up, but if its good to go then I will try it. Otherwise I will see about getting something more traditional delivered.

live sphagnum sounds like a good option.

I was thinking of setting up some pvc in my pot of choice so that the bottom can fill up with water before it overflows out the pvc drain. Plan was to put the top of pvc drain something like 4" from the top of the pot. That way water could be stored in the bottom of the pot but the pot itself could never overflow as it would always flow out the pvc drain 4" from the surface. (does that make sense?) Is this a good way of doing it? Should I set it up so that its closer to the surface then 4"?

I see a lot of folks using little saucers to hold in water but I prefer not to go with that option if possible for aesthetic reasons.

Another question, I live in Maryland in zone 6B. For over wintering I have 3 options. Leave the pot in place on my porch (full sun 7-9 hours a day depending on season) and just mulch the top. Put the pot in a garden shed (no heat, away from the house but has 4 sides and roof). Put the pot in my garage (one side attached to the house, doesn't freeze or if it does, not by much). Which is best? Outside it will get rain water, whereas the other option relies on me remembering to water... which I might.... :P
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By Matt
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Posts:  21200
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#351493
Minorhero wrote:This is fantastic information, thank you! Since I already have the coir and its literally been doing nothing for 3 years I will take a small portion and soak it. I will measure tds and ph and see what it looks like. I will have a very small margin for giving it up, but if its good to go then I will try it. Otherwise I will see about getting something more traditional delivered.
That sounds like a solid plan!
Minorhero wrote:I was thinking of setting up some pvc in my pot of choice so that the bottom can fill up with water before it overflows out the pvc drain. Plan was to put the top of pvc drain something like 4" from the top of the pot. That way water could be stored in the bottom of the pot but the pot itself could never overflow as it would always flow out the pvc drain 4" from the surface. (does that make sense?) Is this a good way of doing it? Should I set it up so that its closer to the surface then 4"?
That should work well. Depending on what you are planning to grow, you might go a little deeper than 4 inches with the PVC pipe drainage. Flytraps would probably like it better around 6-8 inches. Sarracenia would probably like it best 3-4 inches down, but would do fine if it were 6-8 inches down to reach water.
Minorhero wrote:Another question, I live in Maryland in zone 6B. For over wintering I have 3 options. Leave the pot in place on my porch (full sun 7-9 hours a day depending on season) and just mulch the top.
That's a similar climate to what we're living in here in southern Oregon. Depending on the size of the pot, it could be left out all year without any protection. I've grown flytraps outdoors here in Ashland in those large half barrel planters and they all survived the winter, even the teeny tiniest flytraps. Sarracenia are far hardier. I leave them outdoors year round here and they do fine even in small pots.

Any of your other options would work as well....as long as you remember to water!! They won't need much during the winter, especially with a large pot that will hold a lot of water for a long time, but don't ever let them dry out completely!
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By sanguinearocks101
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Posts:  1161
Joined:  Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:56 am
#351494
Matt wrote: That's a similar climate to what we're living in here in southern Oregon. Depending on the size of the pot, it could be left out all year without any protection. I've grown flytraps outdoors here in Ashland in those large half barrel planters and they all survived the winter, even the teeny tiniest flytraps. Sarracenia are far hardier. I leave them outdoors year round here and they do fine even in small pots.
I am in zone 6b and you think vfts and sarracenia would be able to survive outside all year here? If they can then I'll just leave out some of the less cold-hardy drosera and leave my bog garden out all year.
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By Matt
Location: 
Posts:  21200
Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#351495
sanguinearocks101 wrote:I am in zone 6b and you think vfts and sarracenia would be able to survive outside all year here?
If put in an in-ground bog garden or in a sufficiently large pot, yes, they should be able to survive outside all year. Note, the pot must be VERY large if you plan to do that and it might be good to mulch them in the winter as well.

I think the lowest temperature my flytraps had that I grew outdoors for 2 winters and 3 summers was about 10°F. It might have gotten down into the single digits a couple of times. But it never went below 0°F.
By Minorhero
Posts:  4
Joined:  Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:34 pm
#351887
Thank you folks for the help! I ordered plants from e bay last week and they came a couple of days ago. I ordered 3 small flytraps (B52 variant) and one small Judith Hindle Pitcher Plant.

For container I ended up with a 16" plastic pot. I couldn't find anything else bigger that wasn't also significnatly more expensive. Hopefully this is big enough to work for my needs. I drilled the bottom and inserted a 1/4" push to connect bulkhead. A bigger size would have been preferable but this is what I had lying around from another project. Into the bulkhead went a 1/4" rigid acrylic tube cut so that the top of the tube stopped 6" below the top of the pot. I sealed the bulkhead in place with a 2 part epoxy. 100% silicone would have been better but again, using what I had lying around.

Here is what that looked like:

Image

For substrate I did end up getting my hands on organic sphagnum peat moss. I mixed it 50/50 with pool filter sand. When my plants came I added them to the pot. Here is how it looks now:

Image

Here is hoping it all comes together! Thank you folks for the help and information!

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