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Carnivorous Plants for Insect Control? No Way!

8 de september de 2023

I’m going to tell you something now that most of you already know. A lot of the gardening information you get off the internet and social media is pure manure.

Case in point. A few days ago, I was scrolling down a gardening website when I encountered an article titled something like, «Keep Bugs at Bay with Carnivorous Plants.» The title alone told me that the author had never grown them.

Carnivorous plants (Venus’s flytrap, pitcher plant, sundew, bladderwort) are remarkable organisms that thrive in very special environments. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t grow in dark, murky swamps. They grow in sunny freshwater bogs where the water table is just below the surface. Walking on a bog is like walking on a sponge. The water is quite acid and nearly devoid of vital nutrients such as nitrogen. To procure them, these plants produce specialized leaves and traps to catch and digest bugs. Bladderworts, which live almost entirely under the water line, use underwater traps to snare tiny aquatic creatures.

So let’s consider the bug control promise. How many carnivorous plants would you have to plant around your garden to put a dent in the insect population? Well, if you visit a bog, you will notice hundreds of carnivorous plants and thousands upon thousands of bugs. Too many bugs for the plants to eat all of them or even noticeably reduce the number. Think that’s gonna change when you move these plants into your yard? Remember, if your yard does not supply exactly the same growing conditions as the bog, the plants will die. And I’m guessing you don’t live in a bog.

Okay, then, no to cultivating carnivorous plants outdoors. What about indoors? Except for tropical pitcher plants that can’t take cold, that’s an even worse idea. For one thing, most carnivorous plants need a winter dormant season best supplied by growing outdoors. If they don’t get it, they die. The rest of the time they need bright sun, warm temperatures, and humidity (most rooms won’t supply this), special soil made just for them, and pure rainwater, not tap water. Oh, and if you fertilize them with anything, you’ll kill them.

Another problem associated with growing carnivorous plants is while they can be propagated from seed and division, many are simply dug from the wild and sold by Cousin Bubba to get his moonshine money. The survival rate of harvested plants is similar to that of the residents of Pompei when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Only buy nursery propagated plants!

It is therefore abundantly evident that there is only ONE place you should look on the internet for clear, concise, and accurate information. The Grumpy Gardener. Thank you for your patronage.