22 October 2012

A little green memory prod

My garden contains a variety of plants, but none could be more exotic than the pitcher plant.

Here's a description of the plant taken from an article called "Top 10 Amazing Plants" (on a website called Super Tight Stuff).
Nepenthes is a genus of carniverous plant that encompasses over 120 species, native to Indonesia, the Phillipines, and South-East Asia. This species of plant has three primary components: the lid, the rim, and the pitcher. The purpose of the lid is to keep rain water from collecting in the pitcher, and the colorful rim functions as a lure to insects. The plant produces a syrupy liquid in the bottom of the pitcher that attracts, and drowns, potential prey. The walls are coated with a waxy substance, so when an insect slips inside it can’t escape, and the plant has ample time to digest its new meal.
I was given this plant as a gift by two cousins who were visiting from the USA. Louise and Carol bought it at the nearby Eumundi Markets, and it was quite small when they brought it home. I had no big expectations of it, as it's far from home here in Queensland and needs a pretty special growing environment. But plants that were gifts are especially welcome, as they bring back lovely memories of whoever gave them. It's always sad if they don't 'take', so I decided to give it a good go.

I repotted the pitcher plant into a good-sized hanging basket with its own built in water supply. And I hung it from a trellis where it gets filtered sunlight under a canopy that includes a couple of frangipani trees and a Monstera deliciosa that rambles over the trellis. And the dear little pitcher plant has...well, not exactly flourished, as there are only ever a few pitchers on the plant at any one time. But it seems happy enough, with some tendrils now reaching up and over the trellis. At the moment there are three pitchers (each an extension of a long, thin leaf). And that's about the maximum I've seen on the plant at any one time. But one is 20cm (8in) long and very fat - the largest pitcher ever. So I'm hoping in time the plant will colonise more of the trellis.

Yesterday I watched for a long time as two ants crawled all over this pitcher's rim, trying to get at the nectar inside. I didn't actually see either of them fall into the trap, but looking inside one of the pitchers later, I saw there the remains of several insects. So obviously the plant is getting at least some of its nourishment that way. I supplement the plant's diet now and then with seaweed extract. And I keep it well mulched with chopped sugar cane.

I'm hopeful the pitcher plant will continue to grow and prosper, reminding me every time I look at it of the fun we had during my cousins' visit.

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

Aren't you afraid that a carnivorous plant will mutate and eat you?

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.