Carnivorous Plants/Browning leaves
QUESTION: My Sarracenias and VFT look horrible. I'm in Scottsdale, Arizona. I purchased a Sarracenia alta x minor and a Scarlett Belle from you back in March. I initially had them in CP mix (also yours) in a terra-cotta pot sitting in a saucer of water. They put on a ton of new growth, but the pitchers never opened. I'm sure the altaxminor had thrips due to some very "twisty" leaves, but the Belle looked ok. They never became red, so I placed them in even more sun, but they still did not seem happy. So about two weeks ago I made a bog garden using a garden cart. It measures about 18" x 42" and is about 10" deep. I lined it with a pond liner and filled it with Canadian peat moss (in the bales) and coarse sand. I use RO water for it. It is outside where it gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Since then I am seeing new growth appear, but it is browning on the tips. Why aren't they developing pitchers, and why are the tips of the new growth browning? What am I doing incorrectly?? Thank you so much!
ANSWER: Hi Petra,
I need a little more information to be able to give you some solid recommendations.
1. Your bog garden, does it have drain holes? Also, are you only using R.O. water, and is it truly a reverse osmosis filter, not a water softener? The two are quite different, and I've seen these symptoms from homes with softeners.
2. Tell me about the your current weather. You didn't say what part of Arizona you live in. What is the daytime high and overnight low?
3. Tell me about how you water your plants. Were they originally in trays? How deep was the water? Did pots ever dry out?
4. Send me a new photo of your whole set-up, not just plant close-ups. I'd like to see what it looks like.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you, Jeff!
1. Yes, my garden has drain holes, I do see water dripping out the bottom after watering. And, yes, it is RO water. We do not have a water softener. (I do know the difference! :) )
2. We're hot here. Low 100s during the day, low to mid 70s at night. I'm in Scottsdale, for all intents and purposes, Phoenix, Arizona. Central Arizona. Humidity is very low often reaching single digits during the day and high 20%-30% at night.
3. I top water the garden. Before this set up, they were in a terra-cotta pot sitting in about 1-2 inches of water. They never dried out.
4. Attaching photos! I do see some healthy new growth.
Thank you, once again! I want to be successful, and I know it's possible. There was a fellow who posted pictures of his beautiful Sarracenia on your FB page and he's here in the Valley.
Thank-you for the pictures. It does help rule some problems out. Since the soil and water conditions seem normal for cp, let's revisit the Thrips issue. Get a hand lens and examine new growth on the plants. Look for tiny long bugs. If you see those, you do have Thrips, and you'll need to treat. Thrips will produce the kind of damage you're seeing, and they are worse in dry conditions. We had an outbreak last year in late summer when it is hottest and driest. After doing a little research, I would recommend a product containing Spinosad. This is a biological with some residual effect. Be sure to spray in late evening.
The other big recommendation I have is to move the planter away from the tree. The two reasons for this is that the plants may not be getting as much sun as they need, and the tree can harbor pests that affect the carnivorous plants. I find that not giving the plants enough sun is the most common mistake of folks living in hot climates.
When you reach the hottest parts of your summer here's a better way to provide some cooling without blocking too much light. I've attached a photo of from one of our customers (probably the same one you mentioned from FB) in Apache Junction. Using the aluminized shade cloth works well, and it would be easy to rig a canopy for your planter. His Sarracenia get slightly browned edges from the low humidity, but overall look fine.
Let me know if this helps.