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Plant of the Week: The Venus Fly Trap


Like other plants, Venus Fly Traps gather nutrients from gases in the air and nutrients in the soil. However, they live in poor soil and are healthier if they get nutrients from insects. Carnivorous plants live all over the world but the Venus Fly Trap is native to select boggy areas in North and South Carolina. Because of people's fascination with these plants, they collected many of them and they became endangered. Today, Fly Traps are grown in greenhouses.

The leaves of these mysterious plants open wide and on them are short, stiff hairs called trigger hairs. When anything touches these hairs enough to bend them, the two lobes of the leaves snap shut trapping whatever is inside - in less than a second. If the object isn't food, e.g., a stone, or a nut, the trap will reopen in about twelve hours and 'spit' it out. The trap constricts tightly around the insect and secretes digestive juices, much like those in your stomach. It dissolves the soft, inner parts of the insect, but not the tough, outer part called the exoskeleton. At the end of the digestive process, which takes from five to twelve days, the trap reabsorbs the digestive fluid and then reopens. The leftover parts of the insect, the exoskeleton, blow away in the wind or are washed away by rain. The time it takes for the trap to reopen depends on the size of the insect, temperature, the age of the trap, and the number of times it has gone through this process. People still do not understand fully how the trap closes. The Venus' Flytrap does not have a nervous system or any muscles or tendons. Scientists theorize that it moves from some type of fluid pressure activated by an actual electrical current that runs through each lobe.

The Venus Flytrap is one of the easiest carnivorous plants to grow -- with only a few requirements such as, wet roots, high humidity, full sunlight, and poor, acidic soil.A recommended soil mixture is one that contains sphagnum moss and sand. Do not add fertilizer or lime. Your plants will do better if you transplant them into new soil every few years. To provide high humidity, plant it in a terrarium or in a glass container with a small opening. An old aquarium or fish bowl make good containers for this purpose. You need to watch your terrarium in the summer because the temperature inside the glass may get too hot. Two hours in the sun may be sufficient. If your plants wilt, then they need to come out of the sun sooner. Just the opposite is true for winter. If it gets very cold in your area you may need to move your plants away from the window or cover them at night in order to keep them warm and moist. However, it will experience a dormant period in the winter, from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day so it needs fewer hours of daylight and cooler temperatures. If you grow your plant outside, it will get enough insects to eat. If it rains the container may fill up with water but this will not hurt the plants, they can live underwater for months. If you grow your plant inside you will need to feed it insects. A couple of houseflies or small slugs per month is enough during the growing season. source:

Bring your kids to learn more about these carnivorous plants at our Venus Fly Trap Workshop for Kids on Saturday, August 15 at 11am. learn more >>

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Plant of the Week: Sedum Angelina

Do you have a garden spot that is sunny, hot and dry with poor or rocky soil? Well we’ve got just plant for you - sedums! Sedums are a gardener's dream. These flowering perennials thrive in alkaline soil and full sun and require minimal maintenance, and best of all they do not require a great deal of watering. Sedums are characteristically low, spreading plants often used as ground covers, in rock gardens, or in containers mixed with other succulents or plants. Colors range from bright green to vibrant pink to silver and blue. Many varieties are evergreen, but some will lose their leaves during winter and sprout again in summer. So, if you’re looking for a beautiful plant that thrives with near neglect, a sedum just might fit what you’re looking for! Here is one of the best performers:

Sedum 'Angelina' – is covered in stunning yellow, star-shaped flowers from early to mid summer. In fall, needle-like foliage tips take on a reddish-orange hue. This vigorous perennial is easy to grow and reaches 3 to 6 inches in height. Perfect as a groundcover, in borders, or spilling over rock walls and the edges of containers. It also makes an excellent accent for plants with dark foliage. Angelina is heat and drought-tolerant and does best in full sun, although it will tolerate some light shade.

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Plant of the Week: Orange Marmalade Crossandra

Sometimes called firecracker flower, this tropical variety puts on quite a show, featuring large clusters of dazzling, frilly orange flowers that pop against glossy dark green foliage. This flowering perennial is easy to grow, loves heat and humidity, and does well in full sun to partial shade. Enjoy blooms late spring through early fall and typically reaching a height and spread of 1-3 feet. Orange Marmalade is perfect for brightening borders, annual and perennial beds and looks fantastic in outdoor containers. For a real tropical look, combine with ferns, hostas, impatiens and philodendrons. The dwarf species are slower growing, making wonderful flowering houseplants, which will bloom on and off all year long provided it gets ample light. As an indoor plant, be sure to mist the leaves regularly. Whether indoors or out, Crossandra will make a beautiful addition to your landscape and home.

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