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Thread: New VFT owner with some questions

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    mmlr38's Avatar
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    New VFT owner with some questions

    Hello there,

    I just picked up a few plants from Wal-mart the other day. I used to have VFTs when I was a kid, but I haven't had any in a while. I have been reading non-stop since getting the new guys and I think I have a pretty good grasp on caring for them.

    However, I do have a few questions that I would like to get some feedback on from people who have had VFTs and successfully kept a plant alive for a few years.

    Here is my list of questions in order of importance:

    1) Is moving the plant daily a bad idea? I want to keep the plant plenty warm, and it is already getting down into the low 60s or 50s at night here, so I move the plants inside at night and put them back outside in the morning. Is this stressful to the plant?

    2) Regarding winter dormancy, I live in Boulder, CO. Unfortunately it gets too cold here in the winter to let the plants winter outside. What is the best option of the following:
    a) A cellar that will probably stay around 40 to 50 degrees in the winter (maybe a bit cooler), but will have ABSOLUTELY NO sunlight. I could potentially put some sort of plant light down there for them, but I would need advice as to what kind of light would be appropriate. I could also bring them outside for the warmest part of the day on days where it wasn't too cold. I don't mind babysitting my plants.
    b) The refrigerator technique.
    c) A cool windowsill.
    d) An outdoor dormancy where the plant is buried? I read about this here:
    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=109382
    See post #8 that reads:
    "This plant gets an outdoor dormancy from November to around March buried beneath pine needles, burlap, and a foot or so of mulch, pineboughs and eventually snow."

    I have read that garages and basements are good places to allow VFTs to have their 3-4 months of dormancy, but I have also read that this is WILL NOT WORK. See here:
    http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2462.html

    What seems like the best option of the ones I listed above?

    3) Does feeding a VFT actually increase the rate at which the will grow, as is stated here:
    http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2280.html Again I have read differing opinions on this topic and I would like to hear some people's experiences and opinions about this.

    4) In the spring, when the plant starts flowering, when is the best time to cut off the flower? I have read that you should do it as soon as you see it coming out here: http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq2470.html

    However, I have also read that if you cut it off then, the plant will send another flower out which consumes more energy than if you had just let the flower grow. Source = "Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada" by Donald E. Schnell
    quote: "Cutting the scape before at least one flower appears, however, causes a new scape to initiate and begin growing, which uses even more energy reserves."

    What is the right thing to do? Axe it as soon as possible, or let it grow a bit and then axe it?

    Thanks in advance for any advice,
    Matt

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Hi Matt and welcome to TF!

    1) Moving a plant daily is definitely a bad idea. Start off with a shaded area and gradually move it closer to full sun.

    2) C & D are legitimate options. What I do is take the dprmancy type plants and tote them to the attic, where it is cold for the winter, but not frigid. I place at a south window sill and water occasionally. They are exposed tot he air, sunlight, and the ebb & flow of temps, as well as the gradual change in photperiod. By the end of winter, the plants wake up on their own. That has worked for me.

    3) Feeding is important for its health and growth, but humans tend to overfeed them, mainly out of our sadistic tendencies.

    4) If the plant has had adequate lighting (energy) before dormancy and a true dormancy, there is no need to cut the flower off. But nip it in before it actually flowers if you's like. Most people start out with a neglected tissue cultured plant that is grown inadequately in a terrarium. That is why the advice is to cut the fower scape.

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    1. Harm? I dont know. extra work for nothing probably. Low 50's and 60's shouldnt harm the plant at all as they are from the Carolinas and this is well with in the natural temperature variation they would see so you are moving them essentially for no reason.

    2.When I lived in Michigan I used the refrigerator with out any problems. I would just leave my plant in the windowsill till around Thanksgiving then put it in the fridge after preparing it. The plant always came back strong in the spring.

    3. It always seemed to me like feeding them gave them a small boost though the difference wasnt huge.

    4. I always cut the flowers off when they got far enough out that I could remove them easily with a small pair of nail cutting scissors. Only had one start a second flower and I cut that off right away too with no noticable effect.
    "We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should." - Kurt Vonnegut

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    mmlr38's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies guys. I really appreciate the feedback. It is very helpful.

    If I just leave the plants outside all the time, do you think that the cool nights here will trigger dormancy prematurely?

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    Kung Fu Fighting! NeciFiX's Avatar
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    1) Yes, moving them daily is a bad idea. They will become stressed and unknown of the conditions. It doesn't matter if it gets down to 55F or something at night, they can take it and not go into dormancy. It's normal.
    2) Whatever works for you, a quick and easy option if you only have a few potted VFT's is the fridge or a cool windowsill.
    3) Typically yes, the nutrients in the soil that plants need to go on like nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. is not present in the bog like conditions they grow in (if it somehow becomes present like potting them in potting soil they'll die though) so they became carnivorous since insects are like little nutrient pills they need floating in the air. If they are outside and stay outside they'll catch plenty of good food.

    4) I don't follow Barry on a lot of what he says, for instance, humidity and stuff, but, you should let the stalk grow 1-2 inches then axe it. That way the plant isn't shocked right away.
    - NeciFiX

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    mmlr38's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information, NeciFiX. I appreciate it.

    I have a place outside to put the plants and leave them. It gets at least 4 hours of direct sunshine a day. That should be enough, right?

    With regards to dormancy, I think what I am going to do is let the plants go into dormancy and leave them outside to do so until it gets so cold that they could freeze, then I am going to put them on an unheated porch area with the windows open. I think that is my best option.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    I think your winter plan of action will work. Photoperiod, over temperature, is the more dominant force.

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    mmlr38's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim for letting me know that. I was kind of wondering whether temperature or photoperiod was the signal that cued them the most. It's good to know that it is the photoperiod because it is really cold here today (mid 60s). But it is supposed to be back into the mid 90s by the weekend.

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