Plants are blood­thirsty, but finicky about beds

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - — Adrian Hig­gins

If you don’t have a green­house, and most peo­ple don’t, there are three ba­sic ways to grow most car­niv­o­rous plants, as long as you are in plant har­di­ness Zone 6 or warmer.

In­doors: Some car­niv­o­rous plants sim­ply are not suited to in­door en­vi­ron­ments, though a few trop­i­cals will work as win­dowsill plants if, in win­ter, they can be kept hu­mid and away from di­rect heat­ing or cold drafts. How­ever, a ter­rar­ium with its own sup­ple­men­tal light­ing is a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment. Tem­per­ate plants should be al­lowed to go into dor­mancy dur­ing the win­ter by re­duc­ing wa­ter, tem­per­a­ture and light lev­els.

Out­doors in con­tain­ers: This is the eas­i­est way to grow hardy bog plants, but make sure the pot is big enough. A con­tainer that is too small will stress plants in win­ter (from freez­ing) and in sum­mer (from evap­o­ra­tion). Nurs­ery owner Michael Szesze sug­gests a pot at least 10 inches across, and, of course, it has to be of ma­te­rial that is freeze-proof.

Szesze makes small gar­dens for pa­tios with a med­ley of plants in low, broad plas­tic con­tain­ers. He drills quar­ter-inch drainage holes on the side of the pots, just 1 inch or so be­low the lip. This al­lows the soil to re­main sat­u­rated without flood­ing the plant crowns.

In a bog or raised bed: Build­ing a bog gar­den is no small feat. You have to bring in large quan­ti­ties of sand and peat moss and de­vise a way to keep it moist; the in­stal­la­tion costs can add up.

In­stead, you may want to con­sider a raised bed. Szesze has built an el­e­vated dis­play gar­den at his nurs­ery, a five-sided tim­ber-framed bed mea­sur­ing roughly 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. It is well stocked with var­i­ous pitcher plants, bog or­chids, vi­o­lets, gen­tians, sun­dews and fly­traps. It took 12 wheel­bar­row loads of soil.

If you have an ex­ist­ing pond, you could fash­ion a bog at its mar­gins, though it would have to be free of any fer­til­izer runoff from sur­round­ing ar­eas as well as the buildup of fallen leaves or other or­ganic mat­ter.

I have my pitcher plants grow­ing in pots on a planter ledge in my fish pond, about 4 inches be­low the wa­ter line. As long as the wa­ter doesn’t get too high — and cer­tainly not above the soil line — the plants are happy.

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