Carnivorous Plants/Rain Barrell

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Question
Chris, I reside in Alabama and grow mainly Sarracenia and Dionaea plus the Cape Sundew and a Nepenthes hybrid. I currently water my plants with roof rainwater that I collect in containers. I am about to install gutters and would like to catch the water in at least one barrel, with maybe a second for overflow. I read that rainwater that sits in barrels too long can develop a significant amount of Nitrogen and be damaging to the plants. The water that I currently collect is in small containers and is used and replaced rapidly. I also grow a few orchids and succulents so the water would not go to waste, but once the gutters are in place, I will have no way of collecting the water except in the barrels. I have no trees on my or the adjoining properties, so organic matter collecting in the gutters will not be as frequent as houses with a lot of trees nearby. Are you familiar with this issue with the build up of Ni or other elements in barrels?

Answer
Hello Kevin,

I actually used that method for a while. The issue is that the water runs over many surfaces before you capture and store it; then the water may be left in that cachment device for days before use. On the one hand, the surfaces the water is collected from may have debris beyond just plant matter, it can hold animal and bird droppings, chemicals (from paint and roofing products), pesticides, and what not. Just make sure you are collecting the cleanest source of water first. Once it is collected, make sure it is used quickly before it has a chance to become stagnant and develop blooms of algae and bacteria. Drain and clean it out periodically to ensure that debris, chemical buildups, and organisms are kept to a modest level.

This method is cost-efficient and more natural, but you will be somewhat at the mercy of Mother Nature waiting for rain to water your plants. If your region is rainy, you're in luck.

If you have to store the water for a time period, you may want to invest in a filtration system to run the stored rain water through before using it on your plants. Mainly you would want to remove particle solids that may have found a way into your water as well as any nitrogen.  

Carnivorous Plants

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Christopher Littrell

Expertise

I am capable of answering questions about the most common carnivorous plants found in cultivation. I have no personal experience with Byblis, Drosophyllum, Aldrovanda, and Heliamphora. I have not cultivated gemmae forming pygmy sundews nor tuberous sundews. For information regarding those aforementioned species, I would suggest contacting other experts. I can answer questions regarding most species of Nepenthes, tropical and temperate Drosera, Mexican Pinguicula, Sarracenias, and Dionaea. I have some limited experience with growing Utricularia, Cephalotus, and Darlingtonia.

Experience

I have grown carnivorous plants off and on for about 27 years. I have made the same mistakes and suffered the same mishaps that many growers make as they attempt to separate the myths from the realities of growing these plants. Currently, I am successfully growing a variety of tropical sundews, a Nepenthes, several Venus Flytraps of varying ages, and Sarracenias. I have been successful in stratifying Sarracenia seeds and providing artificial dormancy requirements for my temperate plants when needed.

Education/Credentials
I hold a Master's degree in Educational Psychology. Over my lifetime, I have constantly read books involving the growing conditions of carnivorous plants. I hope to incorporate the educational aspects involved in psychology with teaching other people how to cultivate carnivorous plants.

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