Sarracenia - Darlingtonia. (plus bulb content at bottom)

Leo A. Martin
Tue, 16 Mar 2010 16:16:04 PDT
I grew some of these things when I was a kid in the 1970s in southern
California. A couple years ago I looked at the CP Society Web site to see
whether anything had changed as far as culture.

Not much.

The Darlingtonia in habitat receives pretty much full sun, high humidity,
chilly air temperatures (jacket or sweater on many sunny summer days),
cold roots (snow runoff from Mount Shasta and similar mountains year
round) and very pure water. Winters can be very cold and snowy. Most
populations grow standing in moving water that is less than 15 degrees F /
8C above freezing. I have known people who made ice from reverse osmosis
water every day and each morning put it on their Darlingtonias. If air
temperatures soar too high or humidity dips too low the things burn. And
they're really tall if grown properly so it's very hard to provide these
conditions in a terrarium. In common with almost all other US carnivorous
plants they require cold winter dormancy.

The Sarracenias are considered easy outdoors in humid summer-warm climates
(think the Deep South in the USA.) They weren't easy at all outdoors in
southern California. They need pure water that changes frequently, enough
root room, appropriate planting medium and a cold to very cold winter rest
depending on the species. Live sphagnum moss performs orders of magnitude
better than the next-best things, which are either a) clean dead sphagnum
or b) a 50:50 mix of peat : coarse sand. Not much else works for the

They also need nearly full sun, neither growing well nor coloring up in
much shade. Hybridizing has been directed toward miniatures that can be
accommodated in a terrarium. They are a problem in low-humidity climates
outdoors but can be managed in large terraria with high-intensity
fluroescent lights. There are now good fluorescents designed for aquaria
that work well for high-light-intensity terrarium plants and aren't very

People in warmer winter climates often winter their CP in plastic baggies
with sphagnum in the refrigerator. S. purpurea especially requires getting
cold in the winter, since it's from northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

And anybody who lives in a true Mediterranean climate and is willing to
grow a bog plant in a pot ought to try and grow the Australian pitcher,
Cephalotus follicularis. It was considered easy to grow in coastal
southern California but most people in warm-humid summer climates can't
grow it.

As for bulb content, my Pelargonium incrassatum is blooming furiously and
I've been pollinating it. I should have a good crop of seed for the BX. I
took some photos today and will work toward getting them up on the Wiki
eventually. Hold your breath; it's a very beautiful and floriferous plant.

There should be a good quantity of Haemanthus albifloss seed to send in as

Also blooming this week:
Albuca navicula (pollinated) and an A. which I have seen sold as both
?spiralis and ?namaquana. It has narrow fiddlehead spiralling leaves with
tiny pegs on the abaxial leaf surface, rather than the thick green and
smooth corkscrewing leaves of what most people call A. spiralis. Its
flowering will not overlap with A. navicula.
Freesia refracta
Lachanalia alba, bulbillifera, aloides v quadricolor, concordiana,
orchioides v. glaucina, unicolor
Lapeirousia monticola (I think)
Moraea falcifolia
Various Oxalis obtusa color forms, many of which appear to be setting real
seed! I grouped them all together and the bees are busy. Also several O.
purpurea varieties.
Romulea barkerae, monticola

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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