QUESTION: Hi Jeff,
Jacob suggested this is the better place to submit my question. I just finished watching Volume I and I have some questions. I am hoping to make a microbog next to my deck, where I have full sun and more. I have an old enamel-over-fiberglass kitchen sink with 2 bowls, each of which is 9x14" and 8" deep. If I plug the drains and bury it flush with the soil, will it be a suitable container for hardy plants (USDA 5a, Chicago area)? If so, about how many plants should I put in each bowl to allow them to grow to maturity? I would like to include the spectrum of hardy carnivores. Any favorite plants for that situation? And would it be OK to plant this now or better to wait until spring to allow them to get established? Thanks for your help. The video was encouraging. And I've got a fly trap that's working its way outside.
ANSWER: Hi Brent,
Your old sink will definitely work, but I would not plug the drains. Instead put a wad of long-fiber sphagnum moss in them or other inert material that will stop stop the soil media from coming out, but allow water to drain. Even though carnivorous plants like being very wet, you don't want undrained containers since bacteria will build up, and cause very anoxic conditions for the plants. You'll just need to water it more during the summer.
You'll be able to grow most any Sarracenia in this along with hardy sundews, butterworts, and flytraps. Because the sink bowls are not all that large you might go for some slower growing plants such as S. purpurea ssp. purpurea, Judith Hindle for color, etc... Most of this is personal preference. Any of them are going to get large over time, and you'll need to take some out or divide them. My big bathtub is overdue for this. I got about 3 years before plants began to crowd. Most of the crowding is coming from Sarracenia flava and S. oreophila.
If you can get some live sphagnum moss to top-dress the bogs, that can make a great backdrop, and is very healthy for the plants.
Because you're in Chicago, you might avoid some of the more tender species. These would include Drosera trayci, D. filiformis "Florida Giant", Pinguicula primuliflora, and Drosera binata forms. The most winter hardy would include: Sarracenia purpurea ssp. purpurea, S. purpurea var. montana, S. oreophila, S. flava, S. rubra ssp. jonesii, hybrids of any of these, Drosera intermedia, D. filiformis ssp. filiformis (Northern Dewthread), D. rotundifolia, D. anglica, Pinguicula vulgaris, P. grandiflora. No matter what species you select, you will need to heavily mulch for the winter like we show in the video.
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QUESTION: Thanks so much. Just a question about when you would apply the mulch? Here in 5a we are still having daytime temps in the 40's and 50's (60's today) and nights are upper 20's to low 30's, so it seems a bit too early. Is there a consistent day/night temperature level at which you think it's safe to do so?
The amount of mulch to apply is covered in Volume 1. Check the winter care video. There is a list of recommendations based on your region. It also has recommendations to do prior to applying mulch. This part is very important.
Wait until you have several days of overnight frost and your day temperature is consistently in the 40s. For zone 5a, you can apply your mulch now through the end of the month. Definitely do so before the onset of snow or a severe arctic storm.