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Thread: Red sphagnum

  1. #1
    RL7836's Avatar
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    Red sphagnum

    I understand that some species of sphagnum are red or tend toward red. While this may be attractive, my experiences with sphagnum when it turns red have been less than optimal (ie: sphagnum version of colony collapse disorder).

    Here's a current example of some LFS in a small plastic clamshell container that is turning red:

    I'm very interested in hearing what causes the sphagnum to turn red and possible ways to avoid it.

    There was a recent thread on sphagnum (here)* that had several good links. One of them (here) notes that red is an indicator of acidity. Taking this a step further would imply that I could eliminate the red by applying some type of alkaline material (lime?). However, since alkaline materials are typically (but not always) associated with bad things in growing CP & LFS, I'd like to hear opinions from some folks with greater knowledge on this topic.....

    Have others experienced this phenomenon? Any chance that the red is an indicator of stress (and possible caused by heat)?

    * - sidenote to Andrew. Interestingly, the little 'helper' program that suggests other threads to check out prior to posting a new one did not bring up this very relevant thread from just a few months ago. Maybe the title (sphagnum) obscured the possible relationship ... Instead, it provided 3-4 much older threads that were less applicable ...
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  2. #2
    CPlantaholic's Avatar
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    I first saw red sphagnum at the Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin. It was growing from an old log that fell in a waterlogged area. The park ranger told me this was the site that he previously saw D. intermedia and D. rotundifolia growing, but unfortunately the sundews weren't there this year.
    Here are a few pics:

    The plants seem to be growing well in it.

    I actually tried to get that coloration in my sphagnum moss, since I think it looks awesome. However, your's is a bit more red than mine ever got. I could never get live sphagnum to change color unless I mixed the bottom of the live strands in a peat mixture. Then, when given enough time, mine turned dark purple and other shades of red.
    I grew my D. x hybrida in the colorful sphagnum and it seemed to thrive. Also, I grew it in a temp range of 65-70 degrees air conditioning. The light was fairly strong, but not intense by any means.
    I assumed the coloration came from the nutrients contained in the peat. However, it is hard to determine if it is one factor alone. Most of the trees at the Ridges Sanctuary were pine trees or other conifers. There were many downed trees that had sphangum moss growing on them, but most of these logs were highly shaded. Since the sphagnum in the picture was next to an area that had been cleared for a bridge, that spot not only had a good amount of light, but also had plenty of nutrients from the old, decaying log.

    hope this helps some...
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  3. #3
    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Some species are red to begin with. I've never heard of Sphagnum turning red as a result of health but I haven't done much research on it.

    Ivan Snyder says the red species will turn green if there are any nutrients available. This coupled with the observation that redness is also a function of acidity makes sense. Sphagnum absorbs nutrients such as calcium in such abundance that it makes the water acidic. Thus as nutrients in the water are depleted the water becomes more acidic.

    I have a batch of a red species. Grown in a plastic container with water only it is red and yellow. If I put it as a topping on peat moss it will turn green and eventually a mixture of greens, red and yellow. On long fiber sphagnum (dried) it may briefly turn greenish but quickly reverts to reds and yellows. This to me supports the observation that it is a matter of nutrients.

    I've gotten red Sphagnum to germinate from domestic and Chilean long fiber sphagnum.

    The Sphagnum I've gotten from Clint's bog stays green pretty much no mater what. Some Sphagnum that I've gotten from one of the CP nurseries in California will grow patches of red when it is very happy.
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  4. #4
    Carnivorous plant enthusiast vraev's Avatar
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    I got some red sphagnum from a bog in montreal. It was very nice...blood red and I used it for the potting mix of my Nepenthes mira. Inititally it stayed red but once it started growing it slowly started loosing its red color and became green.

  5. #5
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I have several pots with red sphagnum in them. It always seemed to me that it had something to do with light levels, as it shows best in brightly-lit pots. Shaded strands from the same colony turn up yellow or yellow-green. In my experience, the red stuff grows a little more slowly and is more prone to drying out. That said, I've never had it die altogether; it'll just get too dry every once in a while and stop growing. I like to pull the tips off the red strands and distribute them among my other pots - the little mounds of red and pink makes the otherwise plain-looking green Sphagnum a lot more attractive, I think.
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    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RL7836 View Post
    * - sidenote to Andrew. Interestingly, the little 'helper' program that suggests other threads to check out prior to posting a new one did not bring up this very relevant thread from just a few months ago. Maybe the title (sphagnum) obscured the possible relationship ... Instead, it provided 3-4 much older threads that were less applicable ...
    No idea!! I've recreated your situation and written a note to the coder of that hack to see if he has any suggestions.
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