Killer plants

I have to admit to a bit of a fascination. “Hello, my name is Jane, and I’m addicted to carnivorous plants”. God, I feel so much better now that’s out in the open!

Sundew : Drosera rotundifolia (with round leaves)

This isn’t a sudden passion, it’s been going on all my life. As a small kid in London I spent all my time playing in the local park. The first place I headed for was always the old Victorian greenhouse. Not very big, but warm and wet with a smell and aura that I long for now.

The walls were dripping in “staring” Stag Head Ferns and on the benches were Birds of Paradise, Orchids and my favourites the Pitcher Plants with their long tunnels of death.

Venus Flytrap : Spitting out it’s leftovers

Then I progressed to growing my own killers. Every Christmas I would ask for a Venus Fly Trap (I couldn’t find Pitchers at the time… not widespread in the 1970’s!) and I’d keep it in my unheated bedroom until the poor thing wilted and died, but not before I’d watched it devour a few unlucky houseflys.

It wasn’t until quite recently that I even realised that we have our very own native carnivores, the Sundews. Scrabbling around on my hands and knees in one of my friend Hilly’s “heathland” meadows, I came face to face with them. Tiny round, red bejewelled killers. Enticing the insects to an untimely death with their sweet sticky sundew banquet.

Sundew : Drosera integrifolia (with oblong leaves)
Photo courtesy of Hilly Chittenden

A few weeks ago I went to B&Q for some “stuff”. Standing at the till what should be staring up at me but a tiny pot with a tiny Venus Flytrap. The label said £1.25. You’ve probably guessed by now that I had to have it.

The Kitchen Window Venus Flytrap : Spitting out another victim

It’s doing really well. It only gets the purest rainwater and sits on a warm sunny windowsill in the kitchen. Every day it seems to catch a new fly (my eco-friendly flycatcher) and once it’s sucked them dry it opens it’s leaves and spits them out.

I’m not sure what will happen when winter comes but for now my passion is sated…. but maybe you should keep the garlic and crosses close at hand – just in case!

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15 thoughts on “Killer plants

  1. Hi Jane,

    Welcome back – Good to see the posts are back again!

    I too have a passion for plants that ‘do things’ – hence the sensitive plant on my office windowsill. I just need to find a way to stop Amanda and Noel from poking it to watch the leaves fold up…!

  2. Hi Steve. Ah, sensitive plants! They were my second favourite. If the Venus Flytrap died it used to be replaced by a sensitive plant. They always lasted a lot longer than the flytraps. Maybe I should get one as a companion to the flytrap on the kitchen windowsill (1970’s relived!)

  3. Ooo you must try again Dragonstar. Here is what a friend of mine has told me “use nutrient free compost, use plastic containers, keep watered by standing in a plastic saucer approx 1 inch deep and at least 1 in wider than the pot. Don’t water from above (particularly if you have moss) and use rain water. They might also thrive on a bed of expanded clay “beads” as that gives the extra humidity they need and might be worth trying.” To be honest I have just stuck mine on the windowsill and water it from above with rainwater… it seems pretty healthy at the moment. Even gave me a flower the other day!

  4. I have pitcher plants dotted about the kitchen too – and sometimes they nearly die from eating too much – greedy buggers!
    My macabre interest comes from seeing huge ones in the jungle when I was a child.

  5. I’d love to know where you got your pitcher plants Paula. I quite fancy adding a couple to my meat-eating plant collection on the kitchen windowsill!

  6. I did see some pitcher plant at The Range store recently. It’s on te same site as Matalan, Wickes etc on the way out towards Kinson? They didn’t look particularly happy – but I doubt they were getting the care that they deserve!

  7. Hi sis,
    Check with Steve at DWT, but I think Mike and I found some native Venus Fly Traps on Upton Heath down where the boggy ponds are – sure we saw them the day we went up for the heath open day. Now we know what to get you for Birthday/Christmas!!

  8. Getting your Venus and Sundews mixed up Sis! Yes, sundews are native to UK… so hopefully some in the boggy bit on Upton. I will go and have a look. Flytraps… now they AREN’T native (although some have been found growing wild in the New Forest… very strange). Didn’t you know I loved them? I always used to have them as a kid (they didn’t last long but they were fun to watch). At the moment my one on the windowsill has caught 4 flies (all four leaves closed up) waiting for it to spit out the remains. Jane x

  9. Im fasinated by these plants too. My favourite part of Kew gardens is the canvivorous plant section. I must get another venus fly trap. I bought one at a fair that happened to have a small sundew in it. The venus fly trap died after a few weeks but the sundew lasted moths 🙂

  10. Hi Neil. Hey, two plants for one! can’t be bad. I must admit when I saw one in B&Q for £1.25 it was a no-brainer… and I bought it straight away.

  11. I am doing a kids TV show on the Everglades and need to find a photo of a pitcher plant. Would you be willing to allow us to use two of your photos of pitcher plants?
    Be grateful if you could let me know – Rosie Emery
    Thanks

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