Book Review! Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Natch Greyes

Today, I am reviewing the hot new carnivorous plant book on the market! Cultivating Carnivorous Plants is Natch Greyes’ second published book, after Darlingtonia. You probably know Natch from his blog and/or store, as a dedicated member of the NECPS and as Head of PR and Education for the NASC! Clearly, he’s deeply involved in the carnivorous plant world and very knowledgeable!

Read on to find out my thoughts on the new book!

My favorite reading spot! Need those pillows? Click the image!
My favorite reading spot! Need those pillows? Click the image!

Cultivating Carnivorous Plants is easy-reading cultivation guide meets scientific textbook. It covers more material in greater detail than The Savage Garden, but is not as heavy as say, Allen Lowrie’s Magnum Opus. This book get a bit technical like a textbook, but that’s not to say it’s boring or dry! This book goes into more depth and description of many species that are glazed over or unmentioned in The Savage Garden, but the information is still easily readable to all levels of growers!

The first chapters cover essentials such as growing media, pests, and tips for growing indoors and outdoors. For indoor growing, Natch even breaks down which wavelengths of LED lights are best for Chlorophyll production. There is also a small section on feeding/fertilizing, which shows how far carnivorous growers have come from the days of NO FERTILIZER, EVER! 

Newsflash: yes, you can fertilize carnivorous plants but must do so with extra care and precaution. This book details how best to do so!

Then we get into the plants!

Each chapter is divided alphabetically by genus. Natch also includes chapters on carnivorous bromeliads, the proto-carnivorous Roridula, and even a brief chapter on the little-known Triphophyllum, which I’d never heard of before!

Each genus chapter is divided into sections of the different species and varieties in that genus, if there are any. Within these sections are cultivation guides for those species, broken down into aspects such as media, temperature, humidity, pot size, and propagation.

By far, the most valuable assets in Cultivating Carnivorous Plants are the tables. These tables are organized lists of the species name along with other information such as distribution, elevation and cultivation type. I imagine this was a HUGE undertaking for the genera containing a HUGE variety of species like Drosera, Utricularia, and Nepenthes! Having each species listed out this way makes it super easy to quickly look up cultivation guidelines for a plant that may not have a care guide online.

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Example of Drosera table

For instance, I may be browsing Carnivorous Plant Photo Finder or a forum and come across the name Utricularia stanfeldii.

 

From the table in the Utricularia chapter, I can see that it’s a terrestrial bladderwort native to tropical western Africa. If a U. stanfeldii were to ever come into my possession, I’d at least have an educated guess on what conditions it would need to be cultivated.

Pages from Nepenthes table, showing elevation, region, and cultivation categories
Pages from Nepenthes table, showing elevation, region, and cultivation categories

Natch also includes photos for just about every plant species he discusses. This is definitely a book you can flip through and just enjoy the imagery! As a personal preference, I also like the pages being matte and not glossy. For the most part, I really dislike the look and feel of glossy paper and think photographs look much better on matte paper. But I’m just a photography major, what do I know! 😉

Lots of full-page photos!

Critique

My only critique was finding a few grammatical errors and incomplete sentences. As this book is self-published, some errors are bound to get through even with proof-reading. I let Natch know of this, and he worked with another reader to find and correct all the small errors in the book. All future copies of this book should have 100% correct information and grammar! It’s great to know the author is so proactive about making those corrections! Definitely a labor of love!

Conclusion

The Savage Garden is an ideal book for total beginners to carnivorous plants. Its information is useful and easy to apply without being overwhelming. Its use of vernacular names makes it easy for the beginner to learn scientific names (ie: chapters are titled Venus flytrap rather than Dionaea muscipula).

I would recommend Cultivating Carnivorous Plants for growers at a comfortable beginner to intermediate level, who want to deepen their knowledge and learn about more obscure species that aren’t as widely available in cultivation. Not that it wouldn’t benefit a total beginner! But it does cover a lot of non-beginner plants and cultivation techniques that may be overwhelming.

You can order Cultivating Carnivorous Plants in printed or ebook format from Amazon here!

Or get a signed copy directly from the author here!

Thank you for reading this review! Do you own the book? What do you think of it? Got any further questions on it? Let me know your thoughts in a comment below!

Catch you next time! 😉

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