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Thread: Going all-out to germinate some Drosophyllum

  1. #9
    Cthulhu138's Avatar
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    I've read this too but personally, I put no stock in it. I've grown multiple plants in the same pot with no ill effects.

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    Ok, that's good to know.

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    I am at least partially convinced that Drosophyllum may perish in cultivation because of a lack of minor nutrients, such as calcium, which are often present in Mediterranean soils. Many photos I have seen suggest that cultivated plants are expressing symptoms of severe calcium deficiency (burned leaf tips, curled leaves, inability to form roots correctly, inability to flower or set seed correctly). I am not claiming expertise, but I have a strong gut feeling that some of the common problems with this plant can be traced to calcium deficiencies. Calcium is often involved in meristematic growth, so if the plant were lacking it, you would see things like (a) low or nonexistent seed set (b) inability to flower or death at flowering (c) inability to form new roots, which may explain why transplant shock is such a problem here. Calcium is incredibly important in proper root growth and root tip formation. Most of the media I see recommended have no way of getting minor nutrients to the plant because they are sterile.

    So in addition to the above, I will load the media with a 1/4 concentration of a complete fertilizer and see if this stimulates growth along.
    While I do not disagree about the importance of calcium availability to most plants, it should be noted that people who are very experienced growers have stated the reason for Drosophyllum's intolerance to root disturbance has to do with it's inability to form adventitious roots, which is why root, leaf, and stem cuttings do not work exvitro, ever. I am unaware of it working invitro.

    Also, the term "complete fertilizer" applies to any fertilizer that has the three main macro-nutrients (N-P-K). Most commercially available "complete" fertilizers do not contain calcium unless explicitly stated in the ingredients. Calcium is considered a "micro-nutrient" and is usually available in organic fertilizers like kelp meal & bone meal, and also available in soil amendments like lime & gypsum. Bone meal is used extensively to boost calcium availability in soil for garden plants that produce edible fruit, but calcium is mostly ignored for growing plants that are not explicitly grown for fruit ("leafy greens").

    That being said, I think you might be getting calcium confused with phosphorus, which aids in root development and flower production (phosphorus promotes flowering, calcium grows the fruit after words).

    Many people who grow cactus plants do add bone meal to their soil, citing increased growth rate due to the calcium made available to them. Drosophyllum, however, is no cactus. But if you are going to experiment with calcium and its affects on Drosophyllum, I would start by adding bone meal to the media the same way cactus growers do, and skip the "complete fertilizer" route entirely. Bone meal doesn't just provide calcium, it also breaks down into soluble phosphorus that is usable by plants. Another possibility is gypsum, which contains both calcium and sulfur. It has a slight acidifying effect on the soil, and the sulfur seems to be harmless to CPs. A liquid seaweed extract added to the soil at biweekly or monthly intervals would most definitely increase macro- and micro-nutrient content in the soil gradually and might be worth trying on a separate control group but I have no idea what concentration to recommend, and I think it would be a roll of the dice.

    That's just my 2c, feel free to ignore everything I just said.

  4. #12
    I am a CPaholic... DJ57's Avatar
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    The best success I have had is just scarifying the seed, sowing them on top of a loose droso mix with a layer of pure peat on top kept moist in small Jiffy pots, and setting them outside in spring to germinate. I have tried using treatments such as soaking overnight and smoke juice and have found they germinate best when I use no treatment at all and just ignor them. I even got germination on unscarified seed sown and left outside all winter. I do not add any amendments to the soil and my 3-year old droso pot flowers profusely for the last two years, producing 12 to 20+ seed per pod when I hand-pollinate the flowers, 8 to 10 when left to self-pollinate. I use perlite, sand, pumice, and peat in a well-draining mix.

    I have planted droso seed within several inches of each other and they germinate and grow just fine, so a myth dispelled.

    I think your experiment with calcium is interesting and I would be very interested in the results as I think there is so much more to learn about growing this species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ramdacc View Post
    I've read the same but I don't believe it. Not in different pots anyway. Pretty sure that's right up there with the tooth fairy and the yeti. Mine grew in pots right next to each other...and grew like weeds.
    A quote from "The Portuguese Sundew (Drosophyllum lusitanicum Link.) in nature and cultivation" (Jan Flísek & Kamil Pásek): http://www.bestcarnivorousplants.com...usitanicum.htm
    "Another widely perpetuated myth is that Drosophyllum plants do not grow close to each other in its native habitat due to the production of inhibitors which suppress the growth of surrounding plants (Pietropaolo et al., 1986; D’Amato, 1998). According to our observations in nature and cultivation and also investigations by Miguel Porto (personal communication, 2000), the plants can grow side by side (several centimeters distance) without any negative influence on their growth. The fact that at some localities Drosophyllum is dispersed over large distances is likely the result of very harsh conditions and high mortality of the small seedlings rather than inhibitor production."

    I top watered them only to keep the soil moist, never soaked. I read damping off was a huge problem with seedling Drosophyllum so I was cautious not to let them go dry or get saturated. I didn't lose any of the seedlings I had to damping-off.

    The number of medium sized plants I lost due to mom-not-watering-while-I-was-in-Colorado on the other hand......
    I also encountered a good bit of information, including from BCP.com, that suggested that Drosophyllum seems perfectly happy growing amongst its siblings in the same pot. It is only my personal opinion, but I believe that environmental factors may play a more decisive role in spacing the plants out in nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by ramdacc View Post
    While I do not disagree about the importance of calcium availability to most plants, it should be noted that people who are very experienced growers have stated the reason for Drosophyllum's intolerance to root disturbance has to do with it's inability to form adventitious roots, which is why root, leaf, and stem cuttings do not work exvitro, ever. I am unaware of it working invitro.

    Also, the term "complete fertilizer" applies to any fertilizer that has the three main macro-nutrients (N-P-K). Most commercially available "complete" fertilizers do not contain calcium unless explicitly stated in the ingredients. Calcium is considered a "micro-nutrient" and is usually available in organic fertilizers like kelp meal & bone meal, and also available in soil amendments like lime & gypsum. Bone meal is used extensively to boost calcium availability in soil for garden plants that produce edible fruit, but calcium is mostly ignored for growing plants that are not explicitly grown for fruit ("leafy greens").

    That being said, I think you might be getting calcium confused with phosphorus, which aids in root development and flower production (phosphorus promotes flowering, calcium grows the fruit after words). Many people who grow cactus plants do add bone meal to their soil, citing increased growth rate due to the calcium made available to them. Drosophyllum, however, is no cactus. But if you are going to experiment with calcium and its affects on Drosophyllum, I would start by adding bone meal to the media the same way cactus growers do, and skip the "complete fertilizer" route entirely. Bone meal doesn't just provide calcium, it also breaks down into soluble phosphorus that is usable by plants. Another possibility is gypsum, which contains both calcium and sulfur. It has a slight acidifying effect on the soil, and the sulfur seems to be harmless to CPs. A liquid seaweed extract added to the soil at biweekly or monthly intervals would most definitely increase macro- and micro-nutrient content in the soil gradually and might be worth trying on a separate control group but I have no idea what concentration to recommend, and I think it would be a roll of the dice.
    That's just my 2c, feel free to ignore everything I just said.
    I appreciate your feedback and your anecdotes about your experiences. As I said, I have no experience with Drosophyllum, but I do have significant experience with hundreds of other species, some of which include Amborella and Welwitschia. I am often asked either to grow plants that have never been cultivated, or to grow plants which are known for having significant hurdles in cultivation. Your comments about the lack of adventitious root production could very well imply an issue with hormones in Drosophyllum. Now, my next question, as an inquisitive horticulturist, is why. Is this a genetic trait? Is it related to hormones at all? Could it be related to a lack of nutrition either in developing hormones or in having enough nutrition to form roots correctly? Is the plant strongly taprooted (lots of taprooted species, especially xerophytes, forsake adventitious roots in favor of reaching the water table)? Could we apply hormones like auxins and cause a Drosophyllum to become less susceptible to transplant shock?

    I can only bring what information I've collected as well as personal experience to bear on this, but I believe there are many unknowns with Drosophyllum. As far as I have ascertained, there is also no public facility in Georgia growing this plant so I also lack any region-specific information. I was at the ABG two weeks ago and did not see one, but perhaps they've got some in their off-limits greenhouses.

    My experiences with precisely adjusting the nutrition of the plants I grow have been overwhelmingly positive. I grow ~$5 mil worth of corn for a researcher and when I began supplementing additional calcium he said his seed set and microscopic cellular images were the best he'd ever been able to get in 20 years of continually growing corn. I am still unsure of what it did to improve the cellular structure. I have been given plants that others have been unable to flower for months, and within a couple weeks I had set flower buds on them using calcium. For certain crosses that would not set seed, adding some calcium to their food caused them to go from 0% yield to 60% and upwards. My sunflower people were having trouble with their seeds forming radicles in their petri dishes, and a squirt of calcium fertilizer in a petri dish stimulated radicle elongation the same day. I am not saying it's a magic solution, but I have seen that to be lacking can cause severe problems. I have also seen plants lose immune system function because of malnutrition and become susceptible to pests and diseases. A couple years back, I noticed that calcium was not listed in most blends of liquid feed as well as Osmocote, presumably because the best way to do that (CaNO3) is extremely hydrophilic and turns the blend into slush by sucking water straight out of the air.

    Again, it's not a magic bullet, but probably since many horticulturists don't notice it isn't included in most fertilizer blends, it is one of the most common deficiencies in container horticulture. However, my tried-and-true first step when approaching a new plant of any kind is to eliminate nutrition as a variable. I do this by providing all 16 macro and micronutrients using a custom, dilute blend of J. R. Peters fertilizers. When I took over growing our CP collection I began putting it on the Nepenthes; they made the biggest pitchers anyone had seen on the plants in 15 years, and they flower and pitcher constantly. To test when something needs calcium, I prefer calcium nitrate as this is a purer way than gypsom, bonemeal or limestone. I may not have used the term "complete" as it is typically known, but what I meant is that I want to be sure Drosophyllum can access small quantities of all nutrients. That way, if I kill it, I can be assured it's got to be a disease or something else. Granted, I may be biased and my opinion on how to try and grow Drosophyllum only amounts to an educated guess. However, from the photos I have seen (books, forum threads, etc.) of plants where the owner noted that it later perished, I noted the following which are indicative of a calcium deficiency:
    -burned leaf tips
    -problems with meristematic tissues (flower buds, fruiting, death at flowering)
    I rarely saw problems indicating phosphorus (the leaves turn red due to a buildup of anthocyanins) and it seems much more likely that Drosophyllum can get this nutrient from prey. Bugs contain very little calcium but a good bit of phosphorus (http://www.organicvaluerecovery.com/...of_insects.htm).

    My biggest question, germination aside, is why this is such a short-lived plant in cultivation. What's everyone's longest-lived specimen? I read many accounts of death after 2-3 years. Maybe it's a short-lived perennial, or monocarpic like Agaves. I also read that its lifespan isn't known yet because it hasn't been in cultivation long enough. I know its susceptibility to root rot, but sometimes this thing appears to just die for no reason at all, and plants just simply don't do that of their own volition.

    I just really want to get to the bottom of this and play around with some living, breathing Drosophyllum, perhaps torture them a bit, and explore why they don't like to stay alive.
    Last edited by theplantman; 11-05-2013 at 02:44 PM.

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    I definitely support your decision to try out inducing micro and macro nutrients to the medium of Drosophyllum. Some experimentation needs to be done because it seems long term growth of this species relies on collecting seed from mature specimens and restarting from seed, since the old ones do die off fairly young. I am curious as to what results you will get. Their native soils appear that they would be very high in micro nutrients while poor in primary macro-nutrients which, as you stated, can easily be provided by captured prey.

    Now, my next question, as an inquisitive horticulturist, is why. Is this a genetic trait? Is it related to hormones at all? Could it be related to a lack of nutrition either in developing hormones or in having enough nutrition to form roots correctly? Is the plant strongly taprooted (lots of taprooted species, especially xerophytes, forsake adventitious roots in favor of reaching the water table)? Could we apply hormones like auxins and cause a Drosophyllum to become less susceptible to transplant shock?
    Good questions, and worth taking a closer look at.

    I grow ~$5 mil worth of corn for a researcher and when I began supplementing additional calcium he said his seed set and microscopic cellular images were the best he'd ever been able to get in 20 years of continually growing corn. I am still unsure of what it did to improve the cellular structure. I have been given plants that others have been unable to flower for months, and within a couple weeks I had set flower buds on them using calcium. For certain crosses that would not set seed, adding some calcium to their food caused them to go from 0% yield to 60% and upwards. My sunflower people were having trouble with their seeds forming radicles in their petri dishes, and a squirt of calcium fertilizer in a petri dish stimulated radicle elongation the same day. I am not saying it's a magic solution, but I have seen that to be lacking can cause severe problems. I have also seen plants lose immune system function because of malnutrition and become susceptible to pests and diseases.
    Your findings are not surprising. Calcium is a required nutrient for plant growth, and one that is over looked and neglected by many growers. Calcium regulates the transfer of other nutrients into the plants and serves as an activator of certain plant enzymes and is involved in photosynthesis and plant structure. But I don't believe it plays much of a role in the health of some CPs such as Sarrs, many Drosera, and VFTs that are adapted to growing in pretty acidic, nutrient-free soils. Acidic swampy soils contain very little calcium ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium...lant_disorder) ) Most successful growers of these species have never supplemented calcium to their plants (MaxSea does not contain calcium, in case people have been using that thinking that it does).

    However, Drosophyllum may be a different story. It grows in more alkaline soils, not the nutrient poor habitats that VFTs, Sarrs, some Drosera, some non-Mexican butterworts, etc. grow in, and therefore Drosophyllum may very well benefit from things like magnesium, calcium, sulfur, Iron, Boron, Copper, Sodium, etc. in much the same way normal fruit bearing garden plants do.

    When I took over growing our CP collection I began putting it on the Nepenthes; they made the biggest pitchers anyone had seen on the plants in 15 years, and they flower and pitcher constantly.
    Also not surprising. When it comes to using fertilizers and PGRs, Nepenthes seem to react to them in low doses quite different that most CPs, in a very positive way. Some Nepenthes growers swear by using Dyna-gro, which contains the very calcium nitrate that you plan on using, but it has also proven to be lethal to other CPs. Your findings are consistent with what others have reported using Dyna-gro on Nepenthes at 1/4 - 1/8 recommended dosage. So I think calcium nitrate is worth a shot on Drosophyllum. We'd all like to know your results so please keep us updated on your progress as you go along! Good luck!

  7. #15
    theplantman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ramdacc View Post
    Your findings are not surprising. Calcium is a required nutrient for plant growth, and one that is over looked and neglected by many growers. Calcium regulates the transfer of other nutrients into the plants and serves as an activator of certain plant enzymes and is involved in photosynthesis and plant structure. But I don't believe it plays much of a role in the health of some CPs such as Sarrs, many Drosera, and VFTs that are adapted to growing in pretty acidic, nutrient-free soils. Acidic swampy soils contain very little calcium ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium...lant_disorder) ) Most successful growers of these species have never supplemented calcium to their plants (MaxSea does not contain calcium, in case people have been using that thinking that it does).

    However, Drosophyllum may be a different story. It grows in more alkaline soils, not the nutrient poor habitats that VFTs, Sarrs, some Drosera, some non-Mexican butterworts, etc. grow in, and therefore Drosophyllum may very well benefit from things like magnesium, calcium, sulfur, Iron, Boron, Copper, Sodium, etc. in much the same way normal fruit bearing garden plants do.



    Also not surprising. When it comes to using fertilizers and PGRs, Nepenthes seem to react to them in low doses quite different that most CPs, in a very positive way. Some Nepenthes growers swear by using Dyna-gro, which contains the very calcium nitrate that you plan on using, but it has also proven to be lethal to other CPs. Your findings are consistent with what others have reported using Dyna-gro on Nepenthes at 1/4 - 1/8 recommended dosage. So I think calcium nitrate is worth a shot on Drosophyllum. We'd all like to know your results so please keep us updated on your progress as you go along! Good luck!
    I completely agree about calcium and Sarrs/VFTs/Droseras... I get a modest reaction from them, but nowhere near the speed and quality of growth as with Nepenthes. I would even say that there's a scale of response:
    Nepenthes>>Sarrs>>Drosera>>VFTs. Comparing some of the traded plants I have received and assuming they were not chemically fertilized, it does seem as though bulb and rhizome size increases when the plant is lightly fertilized with all 16 nutrients. Who knows how calcium specifically figures in that--very well may not. Could also be that my stuff grows in a greenhouse year-round too, not sure. The difference in size isn't much though.

    I would love to know more about what rate/reactions were had with chemical fertilizers because I rarely see any negative responses or burning. On seedling Droseras I spray my dilute blend daily without any ill effects other than algae growth. I have not used Dyna-Gro but I have noticed it for sale before and it seems like exactly what I try to blend myself using other products.

    I don't have any PGRs either but I would kill to get to use them on CPs and see what the reactions would be on things like trap shape, leaf shape, root growth, flowering, etc. On Neps especially I imagine if I had a nursery I could cram soooo many more plants in the greenhouse space if I could shrink the internodes. Not to mention ease of shipping. Do any nurseries do this already?

    I'll keep updating whenever something happens, maybe get some more seeds planted out soon. No promises but I want this thing to live as long as its natural lifespan will allow. If it dies of root rot I can have it lab-analyzed to find out the exact pathogen and chemical control to kill it.

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    Soooo, I got some more seeds planted out in a variety of ways yesterday (11/13). I don't have enough seeds to do a "real" experiment but we'll at least see what comes up of the following. I do feel like the bleach sterilization may have been too harsh because the seedcoat switched color entirely to a drab brownish color.

    All are uncovered and watered as needed to keep the media damp and placed in a 75F (day) to 60F (night) greenhouse. Sterilization was done by folding the seeds inside a paper towel, soaking in a dish full of ethanol for 2 mins, and rinsing with water.
    + indicates the activity was done. For scarification, a fraction of a mm of the small end (I imagine where the radicle comes out) of the seeds were cut off with a sterilized razor blade, just until some white endosperm began to show and no more. Scarification followed sterilization in the seeds treated with both.

    Seed #2: 100% Turface, 2" plastic pot, no sterilization, no scarification
    #3: 100% Turface, 2" plastic pot, + sterilization, + scarification
    #4: 100% Turface, 2" plastic pot, + sterilization, + scarification
    #5 100% Turface, 2" square peat pot, no sterilization, no scarification
    #6 1:1 Turface:Vermiculite mix, 2" plastic pot, no sterilization, no scarification
    #7 1:1 Turface:Vermiculite mix, 2" square peat pot, + sterilization, + scarification
    #8 1:1 Turface:Vermiculite mix, 6" clay orchid pot, + sterilization, no scarification
    #9 1:1 Turface:Vermiculite mix, 2" plastic pot, + sterilization, no scarification
    #10 100% Vermiculite, 2" plastic pot, + sterilization, + scarification
    #11 100% vermiculite, 2" plastic pot, + sterilization, no scarification
    #12 100% vermiculite, 2" plastic pot, no sterilization, no scarification
    #13 100% vermiculite, 2" plastic pot, +sterilization, +scarification
    #14 100% vermiculite, 2" square peat pot, +sterilization, no scarification

    4 seeds remaining after this. The only thing I think may screw this up is temperature because they're all in the same greenhouse and it runs pretty cool, which is what I read they like. I may try the other four in a warmer place and experiment with covering vs uncovered.
    Last edited by theplantman; 12-05-2013 at 12:32 PM. Reason: Seed 10 and 11 were mislabeled as each other and were switched

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