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Thread: Darlingtonia Tips?

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    Your Real Mom ErrorEN's Avatar
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    Cool Darlingtonia Tips?

    Hello TF ,
    I'm getting a new Darlingtonia in a few days so I just wanted to prepare for its arrival with a few questions...

    1) What soil mix does best for you? I plan on just putting it in 100% live sphagnum moss. But I was told by the seller that I should pot it in the standard peaterlite mix and use the sphagnum moss as a top dressing.

    2) Any clever ideas on how to keep the roots cool?

    3) How do you grow your Darlingtonia?

    Thanks guys!
    ~Eric_N

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    Live sphagnum and volcanic pumice is my favorite compost; and a large unglazed terracotta pot will go a long way toward keeping the roots cool. It insulates and the porous nature of the clay allows for a high rate of air exchange . . .
    “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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    Two years ago I purchased a Darlingtonia on e-bay. The plant I received was young but extremely healthy and robust. I overwintered it in the fridge and in the spring I planted it in a large unglazed terracotta pot with a 1/1/1 mix of peat/perlite/fir bark chips. I watered twice a day with cool water and additionally used ice cubes on the hottest days. The plant struggled most of the spring and all summer. In fact, it only put up one pitcher until things cooled off in the fall, and then managed only a couple more pitchers until dormancy later in the year. This previous spring I potted the plant in the same pot, changed the mix by adding some APS and covered the mix entirely with white aquarium gravel. Continued the watering as above. Big improvement in health and growth. The number of traps the plant produced almost tripled and slow growth continued all summer, even during several long hot spells with several weeks in the high 90s. The plant still isn't anywhere near as nice as it was when I first got it, so I think next year I will try live sphagnum and see if I can get further improvement.

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    I am a CPaholic... DJ57's Avatar
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    Perlite, pumice, sand, and peat with live moss surrounding it. They like a more arid soil mixture and I think the standard mixture does not give good enough drainage/aeration unless you go with 2 parts perlite/1 part peat. I top water twice a day, morning and late afternoon, during the hottest time of summer and once a day the rest of the growing season (cool water). The mixture BigBella mentioned above in a terracotta pot I think would be an excellent mix also.

    I have been growing one in a bog with the above soil mixture for 2 years and I have a few more in a setup using my pond pump to circulate a constant flow of water through the roots. These are growing in moss with roots on top of pea gravel at water level The ones in the pond setup grow faster than the one in the bog and have better color, but the bog one seems to be happy and healthy. Good luck with your Darlingtonia!

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    I forget exactly what I planted mine in, but I think it was a mixture of sand, peat, perlite, and LFS. I have a rig set up that uses a small solar-powered water pump to flush water over the roots constantly, so I don't have to worry about watering it. It's even less maintenance than my sarrs. The plant has handled daytime temps of 100 degrees just fine, even though the root temperature can get into the 90s. I think the most important things with this species are keeping water moving around the roots (either by watering every day or a small pump like I did) and low nighttime temperatures. Apparently, Darlingtonia really, really, really hates warm nights - in their native habitat in the Sierras, for example, nighttime temperatures will drop into the 40s/50s even in the summer.

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    I am a CPaholic... DJ57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie View Post
    I forget exactly what I planted mine in, but I think it was a mixture of sand, peat, perlite, and LFS. I have a rig set up that uses a small solar-powered water pump to flush water over the roots constantly, so I don't have to worry about watering it. It's even less maintenance than my sarrs. The plant has handled daytime temps of 100 degrees just fine, even though the root temperature can get into the 90s. I think the most important things with this species are keeping water moving around the roots (either by watering every day or a small pump like I did) and low nighttime temperatures. Apparently, Darlingtonia really, really, really hates warm nights - in their native habitat in the Sierras, for example, nighttime temperatures will drop into the 40s/50s even in the summer.
    I would like to see your setup, do you have pictures? Raccoons and opossums really have a taste for my Darlingtonia as well as the fish and I had to set up an electric fence around the pond, which the other night they tore down, so I would like to set something up closer to the house and looking for ideas.

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    Natalie's Avatar
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    Here's what it looks like (no water flowing because the sun had already set):



    Originally I had the pot with the plant at floor level, but I raised it up so that the water level in the pot would be a lot lower and the water would have to flow through the entire root system to drain (which is what I think is more natural for the plant) instead of having the roots constantly sit in water. Also, the wood gets to be like 130-140 degrees when the sun is beating down on it, so that was another reason to raise it.

    The pot (actually two - a plastic pot inside a ceramic one) under the step holds more water and the solar-powered water pump. The more water in the system the better, since a larger volume of water takes longer to heat up during the day. In hindsight I wish I had gone with an even larger reservoir for the system, since even as I have it set up now the water temperature (and hence the plant's root temperature) would go up to 95 degrees on the hottest days. Seems fine though as long as it cools off at night!

    I can't really say if this system makes the plant grow better or worse since it's the first Darlingtonia I've had, but it has been putting pitchers out on a steady basis since I got it, so I assume it's happy. If the raccoons are messing with your plant it might be worth a try, especially if they're now tearing down electric fences to get to your plant!

    Here's two month's growth on my plant, which I think is pretty good considering their reputation as slow growers:




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    I am a CPaholic... DJ57's Avatar
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    Thanx. Looks like a good setup and easy to do. I bet a pot they use for aquatic plants that have holes all the way around would work really well with allowing water to flow freely and with aeration. Your plants look very happy, look like the ones in my pond setup. I think the constant water flow makes a big difference. The one in my bog looks good, but not as robust in growth. I think a deeper reservoir would keep the water cooler, but hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. My pond is 250 gallons and 18" deep, so water does not get hot, but not cold either. Looking at your plants they are no different than mine, so maybe it does not matter the water temperature, just the constant flow and cool down at night.

    Do you change out the water in the reservoir regularly? If so, how often?

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