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Thread: Newbie questions about water, pH

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    grumpus's Avatar
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    Newbie questions about water, pH

    Hello!

    I'm planning to try a VFT soon. I've never grown CPs, but I live less than 100 miles inland (Charlotte) from the VFT's natural habitat so I think I can easily keep it outside - probably even through winter if I want. We have the same winter temperatures as Wilmington. Lucky, eh?

    I've been doing my homework, but have a few questions I haven't seen answers to:

    1. I never see anyone mention pH. Is this because the plant should be in a peat/sphagnum + sand/perlite mix, so the pH will take care of itself and remain somewhat acid?

    2. How much standing water do they need? Simply enough to cover the pot's drainage holes?

    3. What is the maximum ppm a VFT can handle in its water? No, I am not considering tap water, but I see so many people mentioning the importance of using rain or purified water I wonder just how much mineral concentration the plants can tolerate.

    4. Should one take care to change the plant's standing water frequently to avoid buildups of solids/pathogens/etc., or flush the growing medium? I know they are bog plants, but I figure stagnant rainwater might not be the same kind of nasty water they like in the swamp.

    Are there special considerations for leaving the plants out in the open rain? Can they drown?

    I'll stop now before more occur to my rambling mind.

    Thanks, and don't hate me for living within driving distance of the Green Swamp!

  2. #2
    CPlantaholic's Avatar
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    Welcome! You're smart to do research first. I killed my first venus fly trap when I tried going into it blindly. It's easy to grow cps if you just follow a few simple rules.
    1. yes and yes. you may want to transplant your venus fly trap every 2 years or something obscure like that, just to give the plant a "reboot" as some have referred to it...

    2. enough so that the soil is moist and not saturated. Maybe a 1/4th inch up the pot or less.

    3. I actually grew sundews and vfts outside last year using well water, which I thought was low in ppm *doh*
    Turns out after droseraguy measured it w/ his tds meter, the water was 350+ ppm. They seemed to grow fine.
    Granted it rained a few times, which may have decreased it a little. The lower the better, though.

    4. Make sure to rinse the media before potting it up- soak the peat in water and squeeze it out with multiple rinses. Then you won't have to worry about switching out the water nearly as much. Maybe every month for safety, you can change the water. Top water the plant to avoid mineral buildup on the soil surface. Flushing the pot every so often is a safe bet for maintaining the longterm health of your cps.

    hope that helps.
    just finished my hw and need 2 get to bed. what am i doing up right now!!??!!
    Visit The Sundew Grow Guides: http://www.growsundews.com
    New- Drosera video tours & other sundew info, now on YouTube!

    Happy Growing!

  3. #3
    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpus View Post
    Hello!

    I'm planning to try a VFT soon. I've never grown CPs, but I live less than 100 miles inland (Charlotte) from the VFT's natural habitat so I think I can easily keep it outside - probably even through winter if I want. We have the same winter temperatures as Wilmington. Lucky, eh?

    I've been doing my homework, but have a few questions I haven't seen answers to:

    1. I never see anyone mention pH. Is this because the plant should be in a peat/sphagnum + sand/perlite mix, so the pH will take care of itself and remain somewhat acid?
    That's correct. Sphagnum by nature is slightly acidic.

    2. How much standing water do they need? Simply enough to cover the pot's drainage holes?
    It pretty much depends on a number of factors such as how much Sphagnum (either peat moss or long fiber sphagnum (live or dead) you have in your mix and you weather conditions. As long as the medium never dries out you should be fine. If the bare minimum of covering the drainage holes keeps this from happening then it should be ok. A safety margin might be a good idea in case there is a spell of dry weather and you're not available to water the plants. When the plants are dormant it is usually better to cut back a little on the water but again don't let it ever dry out.

    3. What is the maximum ppm a VFT can handle in its water? No, I am not considering tap water, but I see so many people mentioning the importance of using rain or purified water I wonder just how much mineral concentration the plants can tolerate.
    The maximum amount of total dissolved solids in water that is acceptable for carnivorous plants varies depending on who you talk to. Some will say below 100 ppm (parts per million) is fine, other will say below 50 ppm. Keep it below 50 ppm and you'll satisfy both groups.

    4. Should one take care to change the plant's standing water frequently to avoid buildups of solids/pathogens/etc., or flush the growing medium? I know they are bog plants, but I figure stagnant rainwater might not be the same kind of nasty water they like in the swamp.
    This would be good practice. You'll probably have to change your medium less frequently.

    Are there special considerations for leaving the plants out in the open rain? Can they drown?
    Dionaea tolerate flooding quite well. No worries there. One grower has even grown VFTs semi-aquatically with no apparent harm.


    I'll stop now before more occur to my rambling mind.

    Thanks, and don't hate me for living within driving distance of the Green Swamp!
    Contact Ozzy and he can give you a tour of the Green Swamp and many prime carnivorous plant sites in the area.

    Welcome to TerraForums!
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

  4. #4
    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Welcome to TF! The rest was covered.

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    Thanks a lot for the welcomes and the thorough replies.

    The local university (UNCC) has a nice collection of CPs in its greenhouse, and they have a Spring Plant Sale coming up in a couple of weeks. They have little bog gardens on sale for $50 now, but I would rather kill one plant at a time due to newbie mistakes than a whole bin full of them.

    Ok, so maybe I'll get a sundew, too. But not a whole garden. Hmm, I bet I can get nice unfertilized Sphagnum and Perlite from them. So far everywhere I've checked only has the "enriched" stuff. No good.

    The total dissolved solids debate makes me want to experiment. Our tapwater is only 50 ppm, though it runs slightly alkaline even after dechlorination. Maybe I'll see if I can get one to live on tinkered-with tap water.

    Not a Number: Funny you should mention a tour of the Green Swamp. I was just thinking about doing that this year. I've lived in NC my whole life and been to the NC/SC beaches dozens of times, gone to all the resorts and historical spots, but have never taken advantage of being so close to the Swamp.

    So, thanks again for the information. And thanks to everyone who posts any questions, pictures, grow journals, terrarium ideas, and everything else on the forums. It all helps newbies like me to soak up knowledge and get ideas. When I get my plant(s) I'll try to post some pics and show people what I'm up to.

  6. #6
    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    Ah, UNCC - that means Larry Mellichamp and all the lovely Sarracenia hybrids he helped breed. A mini-bog may actually be easier to care for than individual pots but I can understand your concern of "putting all your eggs in one basket".

    If you can, get photos of some of these mini-bogs and plants they have.
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

  7. #7
    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
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    Welcome to TF!! I just wanted to comment on the TDS thing... I'm not sure the amount of TDS really matters in the short term. It's long term that matters! If you are using a 10 tds water (like RO) but you use the tray method, and the pot is somewhere that you need to replenish the water often, the minerals will build up quickly in the pot to an unsafe level... When on the other hand, if you top water witha 75 TDS water.. you are constantly rinsing the extra minerals out the bottom of the pot so the level never builds. So don't only keep in mind the TDS of the water-- but the possibility of build up over time.
    Good luck on your first attempt! It seems you'll probably have no problems

    Andrew
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    Owner of TerraForums, FlyTrapShop.com, and cpforums.org.
    Support FlyTrapShop, support TerraForums! www.flytrapshop.com

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    grumpus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not a Number View Post
    Ah, UNCC - that means Larry Mellichamp and all the lovely Sarracenia hybrids he helped breed. A mini-bog may actually be easier to care for than individual pots but I can understand your concern of "putting all your eggs in one basket".

    If you can, get photos of some of these mini-bogs and plants they have.

    Yes, that's him. I didn't see him, but I saw his office and a lot of his plants in the CP room. Heh, I didn't know he and his hybrids were famous. When I was at the greenhouse a few days ago I actually took a few pictures, but none in the CP room (for some reason), even though I spent the most time in there staring at things and getting the bug to grow them.

    I'll go back next week and try to get a good set of photos of all the CPs and make a new thread for them.

    For giggles, here's a shot I took of their Tongue Orchid. No, it's not a CP, but it should be!


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