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Thread: On the many way to grow utrics

  1. #1
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    At the request of Tamlin I am starting this topic and I agree that it should be very productive.

    So, Cole asked how we all grow our Utrics and Swords wanted to know about lithotrophic cultivation. Might as well start from the begining I guess.

    The majority of my Utrics are grown in 2" square pots that I keep in a seedling flats (i.e. 10x20 trays) that are domed. I fill the trays with water until the level is about to spill over and then I let the level drop until the water is gone, this whole cycle takes about a month or so. My main media is about a 50:50 peat:sand mix but I add 10-20% milled sphag. Sometimes the sphag grows and sometimes it doesn't. There are a few plants that I have found grow better in pure LFS, these being my calycifida, tricolor, longifolia and humboldtii and I am also experimenting with sandersonii (after seeing Tamlin's) and pubescens. In the past I have grown dichotoma in milled sphag. In the summer my plants are outside behind a shade cloth (~40-50% sun) in winter they are under lights.

    Variations I have tried and their results:

    Pure peat-- I didn't like this, most of my plants grew very slowly and looked almost stunted. I also found it to be prone to algae mats.

    LFS over lava rock-- I grew a large colony of calyfifida in this manner. The lava rock layer was only about 2cm deep and it was under 3" or so of LFS but the plants seemed to enjoy it.

    My epiphytes are a bit more demanding. My pots of choice are 3" mesh waterlily pots. These provide lots of drainage and ventilation. Medias have been a hayday for me but I have finally settled on 2:1:1:1 LFS:perlite:orchid bark:charcoal. I have used everything from clay pellets to peat to sand mixed in and have found that it is all generally a pain. Watering for these guy started as a pain but I think that was just cause they are a bit picky while establishing. I decided to error on the side of caution and leave they drier to avoid rotting. Now that they are established I have them in a set up similar to my terrestrials except there is a cool breeze always blowing through the dome and the pots stand on styrofoam blocks. When I water it is only to the point where the level just covers the foam with a film, then I let the tray dry as above.

    Sword's lithotrophy idea intrigues me and I think I will set up a couple pot this week to test it. I will attempt it with calycifida, sandersonii and livida and then progress from there. My planned mix will be 2:1 lava rock:milled sphag. I also recall one of Slack's books mentioning a media of 1:1 orchid bark:LFS for calycifida.

    So, who's next
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    Hagerstown, Maryland


  2. #2

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    Jun 2002
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    I'm still rather new to utrics, but I've had good results so far. I have them in a 10 gallon terrarium, on a similar watering cycle to what Pyro mentioned.

    As for soil, I mainly have used peat/perlite. However, I have had much better results for some species in lfs, or lfs on top of peat/perlite.

    I've tried dichotoma in both lfs and peat/perlite, and have had the one in lfs grow about twice as fast. It also looks much healthier.

    I haven't yet tried simplex in lfs, but it has grown extremely fast in peat/perlite. Praelonga and livida have also done well in peat/perlite.

    I have cornuta in peat/sand, which seems to be a good mix for it.

  3. #3

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    I grow pretty much everything in peat/sand. Some of the large SA species, I grow in a mix of orchid-bark and lfs, with a layer of pure lfs on top. Humboldtii and nelumbifolia are in pure lfs.

    Most species I water as per Pyro's decription, although my trays are only deep enough for the water to get to ~1cm of the surface. Large SA species are watered from the top when the media begins to get a bit dry. Subaquatic species like U.leptoplectra, cornuta, bifida, resupinata etc are under a few cm of water. Humboldtii, nelumbifolia and hispida have the water level just at the soil surface.

    Humidity is usually quite low. Temps vary between about 16C to 26C, but the plants don't seem to be too picky. They would probably like cooler nights if they could get them.

    They are about 16 inches away from two two-bulb flourescent fixtures. I have used a variety of bulb types over the years and plain cool white bulbs are as good as any of them, even the 34 watt ones. I recommend a terrarium that is tall enough, so the inflorescences can extend properly.

    The worst pest I've had had been thrips, which almost destroyed my collection. Aphids can be a problem, but mostly affect the inflorescence and don't seem to put the plant at too much of a risk aside from damaged flower buds. Be careful with pestcides as the plants can be quite sensitive. I have killed plants by using liquid diazinon. I had excellent success with Orthene in soluble powder form, but it was very expensive and smells terrible. There also may be health risks to consider, but I have a feeling that they are a bit overrated by the CP community. (Please educate yourself before using any of this stuff, I don't want to get sued if you get cancer). Anyway, a couple applications 10 days apart and I haven't seen a single aphid or thrip since (didn't do much for the gnats though).

    Fungus gnats can be a pain, keep an eye out, when you see one you probably have dozens. Symptoms include leaves that have been severed at the base, and fine slime-trails that look a bit like spider webs. I use "sticky-strips" to keep them under control. It might be a good idea to repot heavily infested plants. I have some fungus gnat specific Bt around somewhere, but it seems to have been lost when I moved.

    There you go - how to grow utrics in one easy lesson.

  4. #4
    swords's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
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    Good ideas up there.

    Whenever I do a peat/sand mixture it seems too heavy and most of my utrics don't seem to do well in it so I generally use pure coarse ground sphagnum peat, the milled stuff settles too compact for my liking. Sand mixes do seem to grow algae faster but pure sphagnum also grows mosses which has to be plucked out before your utrics get lost.

    I must say fungus gnats are a problem but one healhy sundew in the terrarium will get rid of them for you. I had a ton of the gnats during last summer so I got a D. binata and it wiped em out (so far)!

    Dodec that reminds me of a story in the book Orchid Fever where one guy decides he's spraying too much chemicals on his plants when his downstairs neighbor starts to have uncontrollable vomiting and his hair begins falling out.

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