Middle to late winter is the best time to divide up and transplant temperate plants such as Venus flytraps and Sarracenia. Because they’re not actively growing, uprooting during dormancy is less invasive and stressful to them. For those of us who have flytraps and Sarracenia as the majority of our collections, dividing and re-potting is nearly impossible to do all in one day! It’s a multi-phase process that will also take several blog posts. So here’s part one! The great dividing of my huge Sarracenia pot!
Recently, I traded plants with a fellow grower online. I received these adorable pygmy drosera gemmae and a Sarracenia x readii. My half of the trade to give him was a division of my Sarracenia flava “Cuprea”. A good a time as any to divide up the monster mother plant! It was a Christmas gift from my now-husband who took me on a surprise trip to California Carnivores two (or three?) years ago. It was my first time visiting the nursery, and the three Sarracenia in this pot were my first acquisitions from there. Great memories!
The three plants I separated were S. flava “Cuprea”, S. oreophila x purpurea, and Judith Hindle x flava var. atropurpurea.
The whole project took two days. I ran out of distilled water and big enough pots for the larger divisions. Did I also mention it had been raining heavily and no higher than 50 F outside? Yes, I’m a wimpy Californian who shivers when it’s under 70! I’m also smart enough to run out of water when it’s raining! My rain-collecting game really needs to step up now that we’ve a had a very sunny January.
But I really loved every moment of it! Yes, my toes and fingers were numb and my back got horribly stiff, but I really loved seeing how much my plants had grown and divided under the soil.
I used the standard carnivorous plant soil mix of 50/50 organic peat moss and perlite. Because the soil was so compacted around the rhizome and roots, I used a small pair of scissors to separate divisions. For some divisions, I was able to break them apart by hand.
I ended up with seven small divisions of the flava “Cuprea” (not including the one I sent off to trade!), four small and three medium divisions of Judith Hindle x flava var. atro, and two small division of the oreophila x purpurea.
With so many divisions, I was excited to start giving, trading and selling soon! However there was a small set back that also taught me a valuable lesson. The new owner of the division I traded informed me he found a mealybug on the flava “Cuprea”! I felt awful for not only sending him a plant with a pest, but also for naively never thinking about pest control in my own garden. So it was a humbling lesson for me. Just because my plants eat bugs, and I keep them off the ground, doesn’t mean they’re invincable. Even the best growers (ie: not me!) are subject to pests that can really damage plants.
So I went back and swabbed with alcohol every single rhizome that had been in that pot. The damage didn’t seem too extensive, but the signs of mealybugs were definitely there (white powdery looking things at the base of the leaves) on a couple of plants. Later I used a systemic pesticide as a (hopefully) more long term solution.
Right now the plants are isolated and I’m inspecting them every couple of days. The bugs seem to have subsided, but I’m going to wait a bit longer on sending them to new homes until I feel comfortable they won’t bring any invaders. Mother Nature certainly knows how to knock down the human ego! But ultimately, I’m thankful I traded with a smart and observant member of the carnivorous plant community. Things certainly could have been a lot worse!
How are your repotting projects going? Leave a comment and let me know! Hopefully you didn’t come by any nasty surprises like I did!
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