Carnivorous Plants/Growing Temperate CPs in Shady Location
QUESTION: I recently moved to California for work and brought my carnivorous plants with me. Despite California's reputation as "sunny," my new apartment is not particularly well situated for growing carnivorous plants: it faces northeast. I do have a small balcony that gets some southern exposure, but the direct sun does not last very long at all. Hopefully it will be better in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky, but I'm concerned that it won't be enough for my Venus flytraps and Sarracenia. Of course, I can use artificial lighting for my tropical carnivorous plants, but short of moving or sending my temperate plants to live somewhere else, is there anything that I can do?
ANSWER: Hi Robert,
Since it's still winter, you can wait and see how far the sun comes onto the balcony. If you get 5-6 hours during the longer days of the year you should be fine. If it's less than that, you might want to consider boarding your plants out to a friend with a sunny yard, or south facing exposure. You should get a good idea by the Equinox in March. Right now plants should be relatively dormant still. Your only other option is going to be an expensive one, using Metal Halide or larger T-5 fluorescent lighting.
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QUESTION: Thanks, Jeff. So in principle it is possible to grow temperate carnivorous plants indoors using metal halide or T5HO lighting? How would one calibrate the proper level of illumination? How close would you have to keep the plants to the light source? Not that I think I would pursue this option, but I'm curious. I am already using T5HO lighting for my tropical carnivorous plants.
HID lighting can definitely work for Sarracenia and Flytraps. Every year we bring a crop into our tropical sundew house to force for a spring show we attend. They the taller plants are under a 1,000 watt Metal Halide, and the Venus flytraps are under two four-tube T-5 assemblies. Now, the catch here is that the plant already went through a big chuck of their dormancy outside, which you could easily do with your balcony, and since you're not that cold in California, you don't need to worry about cold temperatures that much.
With the 1,000 watt light we keep taller Sarracenia about two feet under the lights, but the light is on a track that moves, so if it's stationary about 3 feet would be good. A 400 watt you would need about 2 feet away. The T-5's work well for short plants, flytraps, S. purpurea, D. rotundifolia, etc..., but don't really work for tall Sarracenia since the plant either grow weakly at the bottom, or burn if too close to the top. For the short plants we keep them about 1 foot away from the tubes. If you use simple T-8's or T-12's, keep flytraps about 2 inches away. Use tubes that are anywhere in between 4100 and 6500k.
With Sarracenia early season growers such as S. flava and S. oreophila come out of dormancy well while others are much slower.
Hope this helps.