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Thread: Sarracenia rhizome rot: remembering Bugweed's tips

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    SpyCspider's Avatar
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    Sarracenia rhizome rot: remembering Bugweed's tips

    Ugh.

    I'm still losing some of my smaller Sarracenias due to rhizome rot/melt/fungus/something. This summer has been unbearably hot and dry. At the past advice of one of our veteran Sarracenia growers--Bugweed--I've started growing my plants in undrained plastic tubs. About 2 years ago, I remember him explaining the nuances of why undrained containers or circulating bogs work better than the widely accepted tray method (which I've always used). He advised that keeping the rhizomes constantly wet ("the wetter, the better") and allowing the water to evaporate creates a healthier oxygenated environment than plants that rely on soaking up water from a tray. I decided to give this method a shot this spring when I found out many of my smaller plants were rotting away from their rhizomes. Yet, I am still losing smaller plants--why??

    At this point, I am wondering if the sudden shriveling of many of my pitcher plants is actually due to unseen insect attack, rather than weather, water, or media issues. I've applied Orthenex to these pitchers and hoping this might repair the problem.

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    I have always preferred the tray method over the undrained tubs and found that there were more "health" problems to be had with the latter.

    At the outset, I would suspect pests over environmental factors. Some years are worse than others when it come to that; and I would let the pesticide do its work and see if there is improvement. Aphids and scale were particularly nasty in California this Spring and went unnoticed until some seriously distorted pitchers came down the line . . .
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

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    dashman's Avatar
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    Can you really call a plastic tub a circulating bog? Perhaps it is too small of a closed system.

    I mean, how does it circulate and have all of the necessary components especially at the microscopic level to stave off stagnation and infestation of bacteria, mold and fungus which in turn could attracts pests.

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    SpyCspider's Avatar
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    no, no. He said EITHER a circulating bog OR undrained tub.

    Bugweed's rationale for an undrained tub is that when you water to the top, it covers the rhizome with water and when this water level drops due to evaporation, it brings oxygen to the rhizome and roots, thereby aerating the media. As opposed to the tray system, where water sits in a tray and is drawn up via roots and capillary action. Combined with hot weather, the tray method encourages inactive bacteria present in the media to be stimulated to attack the nearest fresh living tissue--ie, Sarracenia rhizome. It only slightly made sense to me when he first posted it years ago but hey, he was like the guru of Sarracenia so I figured why not give it a shot.

    So far, most of the plants seem to be doing fine....it's just the smaller plants that are experiencing the shriveling and I'm starting to attribute it to insect damage in addition to heat and stagnation.

    I'll compare results after this year is over and see what method works for me.

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    dashman's Avatar
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    Ah, sorry. That is what I get for reading too fast.

    My questions still apply though for a plastic tub. I would think stagnation and bacterial infestations would set in. I am not an expert, just my thoughts. If he is a guru, then I bow to his wisdom.

    BTW, I have been to sugarland a few times on business. Very nice place as long as you are not there during the summer... hahaha Too hot for us temperate folk here in the Midwest.

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    SpyCspider's Avatar
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    I agree completely. That's what I thought too about undrained tubs but 'ole BW swears by them.

    I'm a native Jerseyan myself so imagine how I had to evolve when I moved down here. And now i'm in San Antonio, which is even hotter and much drier, but my outdoor plants stay in Sugar Land.

    I swear my CPs would probably grow a lot better if I was still up in NJ. Sure we had snow, but at least we didn't have to worry about hurricanes and fire ants and 105 degree weather for weeks on end. Oh and Sugar Land just made US top 25 best cities to live in again (it was #3 a few years ago)...hahaha. Go fig.

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    dashman's Avatar
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    Yep, it seems here in the midwest you can grow highlanders just by adjusting how much you crack your window at night. And in the summer, you can usually just set them outside.

    I make it a point not to pack shiney black dress shoes when I go in the summer because the last time I almost fried my feet while standing outside. Although the food there is very good. Tex-mex, Cajun, Creole, etc. I drool for Papadeux. I've been there once with a group of locals and one person ordered some kind of Mahi-Mahi dish for me that was not on the menu and it was the best thing I have ever tasted.

    Sorry off topic.

    Good luck with your tiny sarrs. If they are dying in the tub, perhaps use the tray method on them until they are stronger.

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    Millipede's Avatar
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    wouldnt any bog still have water underneith the soil though? basicaly being the same thing as using a tray method? because when you have a pot sitting in a tray the water line is at the same level in the pot as it is in the tray so as the water level drops its still pulling air thru the top of the soil in the pot. you could just put the pot in a bucket and fill it to the rim of the pot, let the soil soak up as much water as it could then take it out. the water draining would "refill" the soil with fresh air. sometimes i do that......

    or just water from the top! same thing (i guess)

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