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Thread: Darlingtonia problem

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    CreatureTom's Avatar
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    Darlingtonia problem

    I saw today that my Darlingtonia pitchers were slanted sideways and on further inspection found that they have gone flacid (for lack of a better word) and are sligthly browning. This has happened to both new pitchers that have developed since it woke up from dormancy and the one developing at the moment, however the older pitchers from last year are the same as they were.
    It's been growing in 1/1 peat/perlite and I recently repotted it into a larger terracotta pot. I read today that terracotta can absorb minerals and nutrients from previous soils in it so could this explain it? I repotted it today into a plastic pot with a higher amount of perlite in the mix and saw that the roots seem to be completely fine.
    I water it, along with all my plants, with rainwater and it sits in about two inches of water and gets watered from above on hot days or when the waterline drops.
    Recently the weather has been very hot however no more so than last year and I took the same precautions to keep the roots cool.

    Thats as much relevant information as I can think of, if pictures are needed then I can provide them although they won't show anything that I haven't attempted to explain.

    Does anyone have any ideas what is happening/if it is bad for my plant's health/how to prevent it?
    As always, thanks for any advice!

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    Firerock's Avatar
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    The Cobra Lilly is a mountain plant cool bright days. It sounds like sun is striking the pot. Never use terracotta pots for this plant. I live where about 1/2 mile where there a 100s of thousands of them. Most growing in red clay in ditches etc because water flows thru the Roots. To keep the pot cool double pot it. If you have it standing in water shade the water, it probably getting warm, keep it outside. These plants don't like heat. check the web sit Sarracenia Northwest for more info. I have known Jeff Dallas for years and will give you the straight scoop.

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    While I am not sure that it's the case with you (without knowing the health of the rhizome), Darlingtonia, like Heliamphora, is prone to fungal "sudden death" issues; and as far as terracotta pots are concerned, I have used them exclusively for years and found them to be beneficial. I have found that Trichoderma treatment is also worth pursuing . . .
    Last edited by BigBella; 04-06-2012 at 11:55 AM.
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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    I've been growing mine in terracotta pots for 6+ years. If you top water and don't let them sit in standing water or periodically flush them out mineral buildup is not an issue.

    And they'll only tolerate so much root disturbance before getting set back or giving up the ghost.

    For the most part the UK seems to be an ideal climate for growing this species. Since the decline happened before repotting it could possibly be caused by mineral build up. When did you last change the media? The other possibility is insufficient dormancy. If a plant doesn't get sufficient dormancy normally it justs puts out progressively smaller pitchers over several years then expires, usually during the winter or at the beginning of the growing season.
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    CreatureTom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses, to my inexperienced eyes the rhizome looked okay, there was a number of small rotting pitchers from godknowswhen but other than that it seemed fine. I removed all these old pitchers and repotted it in a mix with better drainage.

    You could be right about the mineral build up, it remained in the pot I bought it in for a year so that seems very likely. I flushed it out thoroughly during repotting and I'll leave it not sitting in water from now on, though I'll have to keep a much closer eye on it to stop it drying out. For the year I've had it it went into dormancy and came out with pitchers much larger than those from the previous year so I think it's fine there.

    Thanks again for the advice, I'll keep posting with how it's progressed.

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    The situation maybe different depending on your mciro climate. It may turn out that you'll have to leave some standing water in order to keep the media from drying out too much. Since the water in the tray would be transported upwards into the pot you should be some of the circulation and oxygenation of the roots. Flushing periodically helps to slow mineral buildup in this situation.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    CreatureTom's Avatar
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    Just got back from being away for four days and it had taken a major turn for the worse, I checked the rhizome and it was brown and in very bad shape; looked definately to be 'sudden death' fungus. Removed and vrey small developing pitcher that looks uninfected and what looks to be the start of a runner and have palced them it wet, cool sphagnum moss in bright light, hopefully see some growth although I know the chances are bleak. Again, thanks for all the advice!

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    Whimgrinder's Avatar
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    First, never transplant any North Ametican pitcher plant during the period when vigorous, new growth has begun; you are likely to kill the plant or at the very least, shock it badly enough to halt all growth for the year.
    Secondly, did you "wash" the peat before using it in the soil mix? I have found most brands of peat are very "salty" (and some even contain added fertilizer! what an appalling practice!) straight out of the bag and need to be rinsed at least once before using. An overnight soak in a generous amount of clean water, then squeeze out as much water as possible is usually sufficient. Some people advocate at least two wash cycles, but I do just one. It wouldn't be a bad idea to wash the perlite in the same manner, as it is well-known to release fluoride once wet. This could potentially add to soil toxicity, so a good rinsing may be wise. For my Darlingtonia, I prefer washed, coarse builders sand, since that eliminates the risk of fluoride toxicity.
    Finally, although some people have had success growing this genus in pots without circulating water through the root zone, I believe you will have much better results if you can emulate the flow of water as the plants experience in situ: they typically grow in seeps where fresh water constantly flows through the root zone. And the colder the water, the better. Darlingtonia likes it hot on top, cool below!

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