Venus fly trap

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A crop of Venus Fly Traps.

When people hear of a carnivorous plant, their first thought is of the huge man eating plant from the Broadway show “Little Shop of Horrors”.  But the difference between Audrey II and the Venus Fly Trap is that the Venus Fly Trap does not eat humans – it eats small insects and spiders.

 

Venus Fly Traps are small flowering plants, with a mouth-like opening at the bottom of its stem to catch small insects.  Venus Fly Traps are native to select boggy areas in North and South Carolina.  These plants were even endangered at one point because of how popular they were becoming.  They are now mostly grown in green houses.

 

These plants require minimal care – high humidity, moist roots, and lots of sunlight. Their source of plant food is the insects they eat.  They are great little companions who rid your house of a pesky fly, spider, or fruit fly.

 

When an insect crawls into the trap, they walk onto trigger hairs which signal the trap to close.  If the object isn’t food, such as a stone, or a nut, the trap will reopen in about twelve hours and ‘spit’ it out.  These are great plants to give as gifts to children for them to observe and take care of.

Dish Gardens

 

Dish gardens are a cool alternative to potted plants and, unlike actual gardens, can be kept indoors and moved around. A dish garden is a small garden of flowers with similar light and watering needs grown in a shallow bowl. The bowl doesn’t need to be large; a 6” diameter bowl will do the trick.

Flowers such as succulents, shamrocks, cacti, flame violets, and club moss make excellent choices for a dish garden. Just be sure to check and see which plants work well being close together. If one plant requires a lot of water and the plant next to it doesn’t require any, you’re going to have a problem deciding how to water your garden. Some plants need more light than others, some plants need a dryer environment than others. But when you find the perfect combo, you can create a beautifully lush, mini garden.

While dish gardens are generally low maintenance, some care is needed to ensure your garden’s survival. First, find a place in your home with the appropriate environment and lighting. If the plants in your garden like lots of sunlight, keeping the dish in a window that receives a lot of daylight is ideal. If your plants like cool, dim atmospheres, place the dish somewhere out of direct light in a room where the temperature stays relatively cool.

Most garden dish plants don’t require much water. If your dish doesn’t drain, over watering can drown your plants or cause rot on the roots. Depending on the plants, a 6” dish will only require about a cup of water every week. An 8”-10” container may require up to 2 cups while a 12”-16” container may need up to 4 cups. However, the best way to tell if your plants need water is simply to check the dryness of the soil. Stick your finger or a pencil about an inch into the soil. If it feels damp or the pencil comes out dark from being wet, then the plant is fine. If the soil is dry and your plant doesn’t like dry soil, water it. It’s as simple as that.

Dish garden plants do continue to grow, but at a slower rate especially if you nix the fertilizer. If the plants extend too far beyond the dish, you can gently trim them back with a sharp pair of scissors.

With the proper care and handling your dish garden can live a long, healthy life.

Dish gardens also make excellent gifts; they are beautiful, low maintenance and last long after they are given.

Air Ferns and Other Plants that Don’t Require Frequent Waterings

When Denise suggested that I write a post about air ferns, my first thought was, “what’s an air fern?” Well it just so happens to be the little plants hanging in the front room of our shop that I see every single time I work. I just never knew what they were. Well, what they are is something really special: a parasite. Now, I know most people associate “parasites” with little evil bugs that bite our pets and family and make us sick. This plant does need a host plant to latch onto but it is not malevolent. In fact, it’s a really fascinating plant. It comes in various shapes and sizes and blooms at different times of the year. The most amazing thing about the air fern (also known by it’s botanical name as Tillandsia) is that it doesn’t need soil. In fact, the moisture contained in soil is likely to provide the fern with too much water causing it to die prematurely. The air fern only needs a quick and occasional misting. Since the fern doesn’t need soil, it can grow almost anywhere. Place the ferns in bubble bowls, crates, mason jars, anywhere you can think of, or hang them from wires. Just be sure to include a host plant such as Spanish or fresh sheet moss. You can decorate your air fern display with rocks, sand, and sea glass, to name a few.

Flower expert J. Schwanke says that the best environment for an air fern is in a bubble bowl with Spanish moss set on a windowsill with indirect sunlight.

The air ferns decorating the front of the shop are for sale. They are excellent for people who want a low maintenance plant that can be customized to fit their own personal style.

Other plants that require little water are perennials such as echinacea, lavender, and daylilies and annuals such as marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos. Orchids also require just a little water on their roots about once a week.

Succulents are another plant that can survive on little water. In fact, overwatering is one of the main causes of succulent fatality. During the summer, you can generously water the plant, just be sure to allow enough time for the soil to dry between waterings so that the roots don’t begin to rot. During the winter, however, you only need to water them every other month.

If you’re not sure about how to care for a plant, ask someone from your local garden center or flower shop who can give you specific directions based on the type of plant and the environment that you live in.

 

-Lacey Bouchard