Showing posts with label house plant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label house plant. Show all posts

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed.

 

Venus Fly Trap
 

I am the recent caretaker of a Venus Fly Trap house plant.

I wasn't sure I wanted one of these carnivorous houseplants plants but hubby has wanted one for a long time so I purchased it for his birthday this year. 

From being really quite indifferent to this particular plant, I have developed a real interest and curiosity about it.

To be fair I had heard they were quite difficult to care for and I wasn't sure I was wanting the task of trying to keep it alive. 

However, I love how it is growing and flourishing in our home and it has been interesting learning all about it. The plant looks happy and has grown and developed well so that gives me joy! 

It is also named the species Dionaea muscipula -though there are many named cultivars with some different looks and habits. Part of the family of carnivorous plants, it only grows in a few places in nature now. Sadly habitat destruction has obliterated it from many of its sites. It can still be seen in the coastal bogs of North and South Carolinas.


Soil Conditions For A Venus Fly Trap

As for most of us, we will keep this plant in a plant pot so we need to copy its natural environment as much as possible. It likes to grow naturally in soil with very low nutrients and dampness all the time. However these days it is not advisable to use endangered peat supplies. So without using at-risk peat mixes you can buy specialist mixes or try the plant in sphagnum peat moss, or fine-milled bark mixed with lime-free horticultural sand or perlite, or just simply in pure sphagnum moss.

Repotting if needed should be done just before the end of winter, so around February for us before all the new regrowth begins.




Watering And Feeding Venus Fly Trap

With Venus Fly Traps watering is a fine balance. They do need the soil to be moist but not waterlogged, neither do they wish to dry out.

 So in the growing season, they like to be in a little standing water so I put a saucer under the draining pot and the saucer has a covering of water in it as it simulates the conditions it would have in the wild damp with higher humidity.

During winter the plant should be kept damp but they do not need so much water so I will likely remove the saucer and just make sure the soil is damp to the touch. 

This plant by far prefers rainwater. So I now keep a bucket outside to collect rainwater for this plant. If I forget then I do use tap water that has been left to stand for about 3 days to help dissipate the minerals and chemicals but even so, to be honest, it is not ideal and long term use of tap water is not good for Venus Fly Traps and will kill them.  

Venus Fly Traps which are kept outside will be able to find enough food for themselves. We put ours outside as much as possible on fine sunny days and the rest of the time on our sunny kitchen windowsill with the window mostly open and it certainly found enough food. 

If you really can't do that then it is possible to feed it yourself with freeze-dried mealworms, which can be bought from shops, but it is a specialist skill to read up on a specialist site. To be honest, it is not something I really want to have to do, so we will stick with a sunny open window and putting it outside as much as possible in summer! 

We do not need to use a plant fertilizer on a Venus Fly Trap, it is adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soil and feeding it in this way will only be harmful. 


Position in The Home For A Venus Fly Trap

A Venus Fly Trap will always require a sunny position in its growing season but does not like being in the direct hot sun all day. 

So aim for about 5 hours of bright sunlight. A sunny windowsill with the window open for part of the day is good. However, do not let it get scorched by the sun.

I have also during this summer put it outside in a sheltered sunny spot for a few hours and it really did seem to like that. 

I would also keep it out of reach of small children and pets, not so much that it is any danger to them but constant touching of the plant's traps, which are often fascinating to children,  may cause it to die. 


 


Winter With A Venus Fly Trap

We have not yet been through a winter with our plant but there are a few things to bear in mind for its survival. 

They do need a period of winter dormancy which in the UK is around November to the beginning of March. As they live in our homes, not the wild environment we need to try to replicate that so they need to have somewhere cold to rest.

We will therefore be moving ours from its sunny warm spot on our kitchen windowsill to a colder place in our home. If I had an unheated greenhouse it could go in there but instead, I will move it to a cold windowsill that is north facing. It's the coolest place in our home and I am hoping it will be cold enough. 

I have been warned not to panic during winter as the leaves will turn black and the beautiful little plant will die right back. At this point, we will trim off any dead growth. Then it is just a matter of keeping it damp and waiting for new growth in Spring! 


Information About the "Traps"

As it is a carnivorous plant its method of gaining nutrition is a little more gruesome than with most plants. It first needs to attract its prey which it does by exuding sweet nectar. 

The flies come in and movement triggers the tiny hairs and then the trap snaps shut just like a cage from which the insect cannot escape.

After that digestive enzymes dissolve the insect and use it for nutrition. The traps stay shut for about 5-8 days then open up again to restart the process with the added bonus, if you are a Fly Trap- of the leftover carcass also being used to attract more prey. 

I feel I should say at this point that we have not noticed any more flies coming in due to having this plant. In fact, we probably have less making it past the plant into the house now!

New Young Traps Forming On Venus Fly Trap


The Cycle Of The Traps

When a trap has opened and closed a few times, probably around five times, it goes black and dies off. For that particular trap, it is the end.

However, before that happens we see several new traps growing to take their place.

At first, I did not think they would grow large enough to keep the plant alive before the older ones died but nature knows what it is doing and the new traps grew and were big enough by the time the older ones died. 

I am more than happy to see now that when I bought it only had 4 traps and now it has double that amount so this shows the plant is happy. Over time and with care it will get better and bigger. 

Children find these Venus Fly Traps fascinating and the book below is a great informative and fun introduction to these amazing little houseplants. 


 


 A Word Of Warning About Venus Fly Traps

If you have one of these fascinating plants it is very important not to test out the traps by putting your finger or a pencil etc inside them. 

While it may seem like fun, to the plant it is torture. Every time the trap shuts it uses up energy and if there is no food in the trap then it has just wasted so much energy. Traps only close about 5 or 6 times before they die so if it is tormented like this with no food it will deplete the plant and eventually the whole plant may die. 

However, you cannot really hurt yourself on this plant. Just avoid touching it as much as possible for its own sake. 


Venus Fly Trap On Sunny Windowsill


So having been initially quite wary of this carnivorous houseplant the Venus Fly Trap, I am now more than fascinated with it and it is an unusual addition to our houseplant collection!


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Monday, July 19, 2021

Reviewing the Care Of Beautiful Anthurium Or Flamingo Flower House Plants

 

Stunning Anthurium Or Flamingo Flower Houseplant. 

 
I do love Anthurium. This beautiful house plant has a special place in my heart as the stems and red flowers of this plant were given as a gift as a gorgeous bouquet of stunning flowers to my husband and me as we came to the end of our honeymoon.

We kept these stems and flowers for weeks. So when we were all settled in our home, we decided to buy ourselves an Anthurium plant so that we could keep it always. 

I have to admit I was a little concerned about how I would look after this Flamingo Flower plant as it looks so exotic. I was sure it would need so much looking after!

However, while it does need a little care I was wrong that it needed a lot. 

I commonly knew this plant as a Flamingo Flower but it also has the common names Laceleaf, Painted Tongue Plant and Tail Flower.

Ours has bright red "flowers" although they are not technically flowering, as I will explain later. 

These Flamingo flower plants would grow in a very tropical environment in nature. They have no scent, just their stunning good looks! It is a lush, stunningly beautiful plant that graces any house with a subtle yet distinctly tropical look. Yet I feel most people could care for this plant with relative ease and just a little knowledge and have a gorgeous display in the home. 


Gorgeous Lush Leaves Of Anthurium Houseplant
 

Where To Site An Anthurium Houseplant

Where we position this plant in the house is vitally important and like with many houseplants, if you get that right the rest is really easy. 

We need to grow this plant in a bright position. If it is in direct sunlight it will scorch the leaves. If it is in constant dull light or too much shade, it may slow growth and stop producing its gorgeous flowers.  

The Flamingo plant benefits from a consistent temperature. We will know if the room you have it in is too hot as it will wilt. We need to remove it from the environment and try somewhere a bit cooler to give it a chance to survive. 

The ideal temperature is around 70-90 degrees but in my experience, the average house temperature is perfectly fine. Our house temperature is significantly lower than 90 degrees and our plant does well in our living room where it is generally warm and constant. Ours is positioned where it is not near an open window in case of drafts or cold chills in winter but it does have lots of light.

If your house goes from extreme heat to extreme cold that this plant will suffer badly, but I doubt many of us will do that intentionally in our homes for our own comfort! 

In a warm summer, we can take them outside for a while in daylight hours only but must keep them in a lightly shaded spot and bring them in before dusk.

I sometimes do this during June and July for a couple of hours a couple of times a week if we get a warm dry summer! 


Heart-Shaped Flower Or Spathe
 On Anthurium

Anthurium House Plant Flowers

Now to explain the "flowers" of this plant. They are very beautiful and shaped like a heart which is rather lovely! The bright red heart shaped structures on our plant do look like flowers but they are not. 

They are in fact waxy leaves and are called spathes. They can come in a gorgeous range of colours from pink, purple, white or red like ours. So if you have one in your home you can usually find one to suit your decor.  However, during this article, we will just call them flowers. 

In order to get those gorgeous waxy leaves that look like flowers, we need to feed the plant a feed with high prosperous content. This is only required about once every month and only during Spring and summer when actively growing. There is no need to use fertiliser in Autumn or winter at all.  

I find the flowers last quite a long time up to several weeks then they gradually dry up and my red one turns a dark brown. I like to trim them off before they start looking unsightly. However, do not just snip them off below the flower head. You need to feel right down the base and cut off low down with a pair of secateurs like these Wolf By Pass Secateurs or a strong pair of scissors. More flowers will soon appear! 


Anthurium Flower


Soil Conditions For Anthurium Houseplant

They grow naturally either in rich soil humus or on the surface of other plants.

For our purposes of growing this as a house plant, it is best and easiest to pot into a soil that is free draining but not as light as pure cactus soil. It is best in soil that has some water retention but is free draining which means the water will quickly pour through drainage holes. A blend of cactus soil with richer compost and grit would be good. 

However, as I could not get any cactus soil at the time, mine is potted into an ordinary multi-purpose compost that is sifted and mixed with fine grit and it seems to do just fine. 

As with most houseplants if the plant starts to look overcrowded and fills the pot that is the time to re-pot into a larger container. I do try to do this before it starts into new growth in early spring, though with this plant you may only need to do it only every few years.


Anthurium Flower Houseplant With Other Houseplants

Watering The Flamingo Flower

I only water when the soil is dry. To test this easily simply pop your finger in the soil and if the first part up to your first knuckle joint feels dry,  give it a good watering until the water pours out of the drainage holes. Allow it to drain off completely then place it back into its outer pot.

Ideally, you do not want Flamingo flower houseplants in any standing water. They like a humid atmosphere but from my experience no more humid than is comfortable for us.

 If you want to make it more humid without changing your comfort levels then a saucer with pebbles covered in water underneath the plant will help. We can also grow it together with other houseplants who like similar conditions or are not fussy about conditions and that will also increase humidity for all of them. I have our Anthurium keeping company with our spider plant and I like the contrasting forms and habit. 

We can mist these houseplants lightly as they like humidity but do not overdo it as they will respond badly to being soaked. I only mist once every couple of weeks in warm weather. Bathrooms often have natural humidity but you would also need to make sure the light levels were good for the plant. 

Beautiful Flamingo Flower Houseplant


Safety Around the Anthurium Plant And Health Benefits.

It is important to note that these plants are poisonous if eaten or tasted. They can cause swelling of the mouth and organs of the digestive system and severe pain. If you buy one do keep it well out of reach of children and pets. 

The sap can also be an irritant and can irritate your eyes quite badly so I am careful as I have very sensitive skin but it's probably best for anyone to wear gloves when handling a lot or especially when taking cuttings.  Do not rub or touch your eyes or mouth with gloves or your hands until you have washed them.

We have ours on top of a tall cupboard where you can see it and admire it but there is no danger to any visiting children or pets.

For these reasons, I try to keep handling this plant to a minimum. I have not yet taken any cuttings as that means much more contact with the plant and I have super sensitive skin. So far I have just repotted it probably every 3 years.

If you are ever lucky enough to see this plant in the wild, best to admire it visually and do not touch it. 

However, they are also good for our health being excellent plants for helping to purify the air in our homes and offices and can help rid the air of many toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and ammonia. They are also particularly good to help the air quality if you use technology like printers or photocopiers.  




So to summarize, Anthuriums or Flamingo flower plants are beautiful, stunning looking and will grace any home with a touch of the exotic. They are toxic if eaten and we do need to be careful when handling them due to the sap, but they are good for our health too in helping to purify our air. For such a tropical-looking plant the care is surprisingly easy. As with most houseplants, if you get the position, soil and watering correct the plant will be a gorgeous addition to your home for years to come. 


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Saturday, December 12, 2020

Reviewing The Growing And Care Of Bottlebrush Plant

Bottlebrush In The Garden By Raintree Annie

Four years ago we bought our first Bottlebrush. It is a plant I had wanted for years so was very happy to bring one home. The first picture shows it growing in a large pot in our garden.

However, when we first brought it home, at that time, I knew very little about how to care for it. 

Most of my plants were firmly outdoor garden plants but the bottle brush in our climate always seems to me to be halfway between a houseplant and a garden plant. 

Learning About Bottlebrush

So I knew I needed to learn about how to grow and care for it. Ours is the Callistemon citrinus or Crimson Bottlebrush. It is fairly common and easy to find. It is quite hardy, but I find requires winter shelter. It produces its stunning flowers mainly in high in summer with another smaller flush in Autumn and has been forgiving about my pruning to shape it.

There are several more cultivars including Alpine and Weeping varieties which are lovely. There are even Lemon Bottlebrush with lemon coloured flowers. So there are many to choose from for your needs. 

Bottlebrush With Bee by Raintree Annie


The smaller dwarf varieties are especially useful for a small garden, patio or even a balcony. If you do not have a garden as such, a dwarf Bottlebrush would be lovely to bring some colour and style to a small outdoor space or indoor conservatory.

   

The name Bottlebrush comes from the beautiful red flower spikes that grow right at the end of the branches and simply look like a bottle brush! 

We knew it needed to grow in a very mid climate as the plant originates in Australia. We have a temperate climate sometimes it is very warm but most of the time it is mild or cool and in winter can be very cold indeed sometimes freezing conditions with frost and snow. So we decided it would be best to grow it in a large pot so that we could move it into a sheltered area easily. 
Bee On Bottlebrush Poster

Bottlebrush also requires free draining soil preferably on the acidic side and our soil is heavy clay. We did not think it would like the clay soil as it gets very cold and sodden in winter and sometimes becomes frozen and rock like. However, it is thriving in the free-draining ericaceous compost with grit and sand I added to the pot. 

I positioned it in full sun so it could take advantage of as much warmth and sunshine as possible. Ideally, it needs to be placed in a south-facing position or failing that a west facing position.

I have to admit for the first two years I was a little disappointed as there were no flowers. It was bought as a small plant though so I knew that as a gardener we do need a little patience. I also learned a lot the first year about how to care for it and it was very forgiving. With a little care and attention and doing the right things the plant was very happy and I reaped the rewards. 

The first year it flowered I was ecstatic!! The flowers were so beautiful and so prolific!! 

Bottlebrush Spike By Raintree Annie


Pruning And Care Of Bottlebrush

Especially in a pot it is necessary to water Bottlebrush regularly and to feed at least once a year in Spring and after flowering. I give an ericaceous feed and water when I feel the soil is dry.  In the ground you may only need to water if it is very dry for prolonged periods of time. 

I have rarely pruned our bottlebrush, only really to shape it. I prefer to just prune back lightly and cut just behind the faded flower spikes each year. Cutting back into the old wood is not advisable.

I have grown it like a shrub, but if you like you can prune it to make it look more tree-like with a single longer trunk. The variety I have can grow up to 15 feet tall so depending on where you are growing it, you may need to do light pruning to keep it in check annually or every other year. However, it can take 10 to 20 years to grow to its full height so it is not a plant that will get out of control very quickly.

 Of course with the dwarf varieties, the plant outgrowing its available space will not be an issue and pruning is simply to remove dead or damaged branches and clip to shape. If I got another one -which is very likely- I will buy a dwarf variety. 

 


I love the leaves, they are evergreen, aromatic, lance-shaped and the older ones are quite thick and dark green while the young ones are light green often just tinged with red and very soft and really lovely to touch.

The flowers here tend to bloom in high to late summer though this year ours still flowered in late November. In the winter I now keep it in our porch area which is very sheltered. In late autumn I cover it in several layers of thick garden fleece and so far it has been just fine throughout winter. If I had a conservatory or orangery I would certainly keep it in there all year round. 

I have never known ours suffer from any pests or diseases. However, it can be susceptible to red spider mite, scale insects and mealybugs though these tend to be more prevalent when grown in a greenhouse situation.

In terms of usefulness to wildlife, our bees love it in summer and can often be found happily feeding upon it! 

 


Bottlebrush is a beautiful evergreen plant requiring minimal care and attention once you understand its needs. It looks great all year round and especially gorgeous in summer and autumn with its vibrant flower spikes. It is a beautiful plant to grow and lovely to give as a gift for anyone who appreciates plants. 

As long as you have one of a garden, conservatory, greenhouse, orangery, a sheltered sunny spot, suitable soil conditions, or a large pot and a means of keeping it safe and sheltered in colder conditions I would recommend growing it.



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