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Thread: Sarracenia rhizome rot: remembering Bugweed's tips

  1. #9
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    In nature, these plants are watered from both above and around. But they also have a complete ecosystem going for them, unlike our artificial environments. So far this setup works for me:




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    mcantrell's Avatar
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    Wow, those guys on the lower racks get enough light?

  3. #11
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I think the important part might be the top-watering, and not the type of container you're watering into. The common ground with both undrained tubs and circulating bogs is that there's frequent water flow from the top to bottom. Do you have any drainage holes in your tubs? From what I've been told, it's generally a good idea to put a few drainage holes somewhere between half and 3/4 of the way up the side of the tub to let water out if it starts to accumulate and stagnate.
    I might be wrong, but I was under the impression that Bugweed's tubs were more to do with concerns of space and water supply than general cultural preference; they worked for him because he had tons of plants that needed to be kept in a compact area, and he had lots of light and evaporation so keeping open trays filled was difficult. What are your temperatures and humidity like? If I recall, Bugweed lives in a warm, semi-coastal area where it's not too humid and there are reliable winds. From what you've said, I would suspect that there's an excess of heat and moisture in your trays, and either some sort of microbial attack is overtaking your rhizomes, or you've got snails or worms or some other chewing invertebrate that are physically injuring the plants and making them susceptible to rot. What media are you using? Is there a top-dressing? How deep are the tubs? Do you have any associated plants in the containers too, or is it 100% Sarracenia?
    If this is something that seems to be happening to your whole collection at large, I would wait for a cool(er), rainy/overcast day and dig up a few plants that are either ailing or unaffected but not dead entirely, and look for signs of pest damage. Also keep an eye out for anatomical problems like shallow root systems - I'm not certain what you'd be looking for but if it's a problem with conditions, there will likely be some telltale growth characteristics.
    ~Joe
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    SpyCspider's Avatar
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    It always gets pretty hot and muggy from May till October here in the Sugar-Land/Houston area. However, this summer we're experiencing some major drought (>3 months!) and last week we hit a high of 104 for the first time in a long time. It's cooled down by a bit these couple of days and there were some thunder and lightning...but almost never rains and if it did, it was only a brief shower to tease us. Humidity is usually 40%s in the day to 60s at night.

    Unfortunately, for the past three years I could only place my plants on my patio facing south to southwest since it's the only spot that doesn't get sprayed by the lawn sprinklers. With this position, they get full sun from noon to evening. Surprisingly, they've thrived and flowered and expanded; nevertheless, for the past two summers I would lose a couple of smaller plants due to rhizome rot. It started with my S. purps last summer and then moved on to the S x Judith Hindles and then hit my S x catesbei and S x mitchelliana this summer. Ok I'm noticing a pattern with S. purp parentage. This summer some of my bigger plants (Dana's delight, Dixie Lace, leucos, alatas) also grew smaller and others arrested growth completely, sending only phyllodia. Flava varieties and hybrids with no S. purp parentage are doing ok at the moment.

    Media is almost pure Canadian sphagnum peat moss mixed with a bit of perlite with a thick layer of live sphagnum. This summer, my sphagnum is also browning--again probably due to drought and heat. If I had any amount, I also add some washed sand (pool filter pure silica) to various pots. Water is either rain (which is lacking this year) or RO.

    On the other hand, the "more delicate" plants are doing great--VFTs are a bit smaller but still sending out lots of traps after flowering, D. intermedia and filiformis couldn't look better, D. spathulata and capensis still going strong, and all my Pings (non-Mexican) are doing fine right out in the open.

    Hence, I'm starting to think it's not just heat and stagnation, but also insects causing them to suddenly kick the bucket. Sigh I'm just sick of losing great-looking plants hahaha.

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    SpyCspider's Avatar
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    And yes, I do notice an influx of earthworms in the older media whenever I repot. They always manage to get in there somehow.

    I think I just need the weather to cool down and rain. That always seems to perk all of them back up. Which is weird considering i'm watering them almost everyday and keeping them constantly wet.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    From your description, I would be very surprised if a little drainage didn't help. When you repot the trays, is there a foul smell that comes from the media? It sounds like some sort of bad microfauna fouling up the stagnant water under the soil line.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

  7. #15
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    I have touched on this in a number of threads recently so you might want to do a quick search on my name to get all of it.

    But in a nutshell:

    A number of Sarr growers have been kind of keeping track of this "rhizome melt" for the last few years. I have heard 2 reports of what the actual agent is. The first ID was Fusarium, this information was passed to me second hand but the original source was someone I trust. The other ID was Cylindrocladium by a person who I find detestable but they are/were a long time Sarr grower so I have to defer a bit to their experience. Either way, this agent seems to be quite wide spread and may well be endemic in collections. However, it only seems to be a major issue in the southern region. I do not have any concrete data on this but the suspicion of myself and others is that heat plays a direct roll. Here in Atl, I tend to see the worst cases late in the summer when the night temps stay high. The disease usually starts popping up when night temps start staying above 25C or so and will spike rapidly when nights are above 28C. Daytime temps over 36C seem to prime conditions as well. The use of the tray method also encourages it. I suspect this is because the presence of the stagnant water, the high local humidity and, again, the heat set up a prime condition for the pathogen to flourish. Something I personally have noticed (but have not tracked among others) is that a media of peat/sand also seems to encourage growth of the fungus. I have a suspicion as to why this is but I won't go into it here. Small pots also encourage it (smaller volumes heat faster and all that...) Plants with dense/compact growth (purpurea) are quite susceptible as is minor (minor has a predilection for drier conditions in cultivation and most people grow it too wet for its liking.) The prior I believe is because the dense nature creates an ideal microclimate for the pathogen, and the latter I suspect is just that growing the plant at less than prime conditions makes it more susceptible to disease.

    Once a plant is showing symptoms it pretty much done for. I have saved a few plants but it was extremely difficult and they have never grown well after the recovery effort. If a plant is showing symptoms then the best thing to do is isolate it to prevent spread to other plants in your collection.

    Now, Bugweed's method I do not advocate for any Southern grower. Because of his location I think he did not get much incidence because his temps rarely hit the problem threshold. However, I also have to consider that, IIRC, Bugweed's recirculating pools were deep. Deep enough that pots were fully submerged. In the first few years I had major problems with this disease I found that growing pots fully submerged would deter incidence. I think this was from a two-fold effect: 1) The pathogen cannot grow as well underwater as it needs some air 2) Infected plants, when grown normally, cannot take up enough water because of the damage to their rhizome, but when the plants are fully submerged they are able to take up enough water to stay stable.

    My advice for Southern growers is, if you are growing in pots then go without a tray and top water as often as needed. Or, grow in bogs. I also make use of a beneficial commensal fungus/bacteria spray which I think helps but I am do not think that is an absolute necessity.
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