Thursday, December 9, 2010


Probably the most boring period of time has begun. All plants were moved into my garage the week of Thanksgiving. I have yet to insulate the garage, which I had hoped would've happened by now. I did set out an electrical heating mat. Supposedly it warms to 10 degrees warmer than the ambient air temperature. I haven't plugged it in yet. I may never use it. I don't know what the temp is inside the garage, but the plants that are on the floor are unfrozen as of today. I do have one tray of large pots that is sitting on a table, and at least the surface moss on those is frozen. I guess I'll have to move it to the floor. Sometime over the Christmas break, I will move all of the 1-year-old seedlings into a greenhouse, so they can get started up again. I'm looking forward to that, as it seems they really start showing their adult characteristics after the first year, although some already were this past fall.
I also have a bunch of seeds stratifying, mostly from my own crosses I did this year, as well as a couple I got in giveaways on the website, and a couple of Ebay purchases. I also have to give a shout out to Rob Co for a bunch of seeds from some very exciting-sounding crosses he did. I just received those in the mail this week, so they will get into stratification this weekend.
My wife is a botany professor and is about to undertake a research project involving Sarracenia. I will add details as they get sorted out, but it will involve tissue-culturing. We've already started a trial run using seed. Still awaiting germination, but there are no signs of contamination. She used a bunch of older, open-pollinated seeds I've been collecting from my collection over the past several years.
Anyways, there's probably not a whole lot to write about anymore until stuff starts growing in the greenhouse, and hopefully everything that remains in the garage pulls through the winter again. I can't wait 'til April!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sarracenia purpurea in the wild

Sarracenia purpurea
Originally uploaded by aarongunnar
Went hiking yesterday, at a place called the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary. The main reason I wanted to go was the presence of a high-quality sphagnum bog. I wasn't disappointed. Pitcher plants were everywhere, and you could definitely see a color gradient from the tree ring to the open lake shore - the ones in the open were nearly pure red, whereas the ones in the shade were pretty much all green. We definitely plan on coming back next summer, as it's only about a 90-minute drive from my house, and I'd like to see them in full bloom, as well as the several bog orchids that are reportedly present.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sarracenia 'Boob Tube' x open-pollinated

Here is a shot of a first-year seedling, at about 8.5 months old, to be exact. It is an open-pollinated 'Boob Tube', from a batch of seeds I got from Wes Buckner. I have probably a dozen seedlings from this batch of seeds. I also have approx. 8 plants from my own open-pollinated 'Boob Tube'. They are all 3 years old, so it has been interesting comparing the ones I got from Wes to my own. For the most part, my set of plants are more upright-growing than the ones I got from Wes. Most of the ones I got from Wes are prostrate and resemble S. psittacina. At this point, this particular seedling is my favorite because it looks very close to S. psittacina. Regardless of pitcher shape, every other seedling of Wes' or my my own seeds has an open lid, however, this one's lid remains closed with just a small, tubular opening, just like S. psittacina. I don't know what the parents of 'Boob Tube' are, or if anyone even knows, but it looks to have S. minor and S. psittacina as parents, and probably something else too, perhaps S. purpurea.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Winding Down

Sadly, the end of summer is fast approaching. Being in WI, means that the first frost is probably not that far away. I don't know when our earliest frost date is, the record is probably some time around now, average is probably another month or so. I know last year we had a big snow sometime around Oct. 7th, although it warmed up again after that. It's been a good year for the Sarracenia this year. I should be able to divide a bunch of my first cohort of "seedlings" (those in their 3rd year), next spring, for trading or I may try a few on Ebay just to see how much they go for, for curiosity's sake. I have too many seedlings to count from those that I started at the beginning of the year. Many are starting to show their true colors - I will try and get some pics up of the best of them here at some point. I also have started harvesting seeds - 3 pods so far with the rest at least a couple of weeks away. I can't wait to get them stratifying, as I only have 1 plant right now that is my own cross - everything else is either open-pollinated, or other people's crosses. I still hope to get my hands on some other people's seeds too.

As of now, the plants are still sending up their late summer pitchers, although the amount of daylight really goes downhill this time of year, so they don't get as much coloration as they would in the summer. That's kind of a bummer, there's a few plants that are sending up their first large pitchers, and I'm curious to see how they look, color-wise. One of my 'Abnorma' plants has recently sent up a very tall pitcher, too bad it will probably stay mostly green.

I'm also starting to think about what I will do with all of them this winter. As I've posted earlier, the mature ones I've been keeping in my garage, while the youngsters I move into a greenhouse after a little taste of the cold. While this has largely been successful, I'm always paranoid about losing a bunch. I've been contemplating the fridge method, but first I have to buy a fridge. I've also contemplated building some kind of insulated enclosure in the garage, with some lighting inside it to keep the temps up. Federal funding for the lab I work in is in jeopardy after this fiscal year, so now is not the time for any costly projects. I may be unemployed by next summer!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A First

While sitting on the deck yesterday, grilling dinner, I noticed an emerged flower bud in one of my mini-bogs. Normally, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, as I always get a few flowers every fall. However, this is a flower from a plant I raised from seed, and it is the first flower I've ever got from a seed-raised plant, and it happened 30 months from germination. Now hopefully it blooms again in the spring as I think this is an excellent plant to breed. It's an open-pollinated alata x flava, that turns completely dark red. Here's some pics of the bud and the pitchers:

Sarracenia alata x flava - open-pollinated

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hybrid Seedling

Here is a pic of the first new seedling to start showing some adult characteristics. It is mitchelliana x 'Wilkerson's Red', one of roughly 15 in total I have of this cross. I originally got the seeds from Wes Buckner in the fall of 2009. The seeds germinated around Christmas '09. This particular one looks to be really leaning towards the mitchelliana look. Of the 15 seedlings I have, this one, at this point, appears the most colorful. Some of its siblings are mostly green, others just appear strongly veined in red, while one looks like it might be mostly pure red. They are still pretty young, so it's tough to read too much into the coloration at this point, but I'm pleased with how they look so far.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sarracenia 'Red Sumatra'

Just testing out the Flickr-Blog connection


I've had my new seedlings outside on my deck for at least a month now. Over the past few weeks, I've noticed the occasional seedling missing from a pot, or those that had yet to be transplanted into individual pots all torn up. This probably made me more mad than anything in recent memory. I would find some seedlings still alive, but no clue as to which one they were. I repotted them back into any empty pots, but who knows if I put them in the right one? So, I will have, I guess, about a dozen seedlings that may or may not be labelled correctly. Anyway, one morning I caught the culprit red-handed, a robin. He/she apparently was gathering the sphagnum to use in his/her nest - the seedlings were just in the way. I was suspecting a squirrel and was in the planning stages of getting my BB Gun ready. So I put up some bird netting I had, from experiencing this problem in the past, and haven't had any problems since. Although, the netting is unsightly and keeps getting caught in my shoes everytime I water.

Long Time Coming

It's been awhile since I posted. No reason really, other than being pretty busy and not having the time to sit down and work on this. My Sarracenia are all in active growth and looking very nice, I might add. I was in Canada for 2 weeks in May, and I thought I was gonna miss the bulk of flowering this year, but the weather happened to turn cold here while I was away, and we even had a freeze on the night before Mother's Day, which knocked off several flowers, but many made it through. I made several crosses this year which I can't wait to get the seeds going, which will be this fall sometime. It's been a few years since I actually did any crosses. Let's see, here's what I did:
-[(oreophila 'Sand Mtn' x flava) x leucophylla] x unknown flava hybrid
-the flava hybrid is all green (not antho-free) and possibly has a small bit of
purpurea in it.
-unknown flava hybrid x selfed
-I selfed it to possibly get a hint of its parentage from the offspring, we'll see
-'Lady Bug' x 'Flies Demise'
-'June Bug' x 'Lady Bug'
-'Doodle Bug' x 'Judith Hindle'
-'Judith Hindle' x (leucophylla x flava rugelli)
-'Ladies In Waiting' x 'Lady Bug'
-(leucophylla x flava rugelli) x 'Ladies In Waiting'
-[readii x (catesbaei x flava)] x 'Judith Hindle'

Well, I guess that's it for now. I've been taking a lot of pictures and will get them up here once I get some more free time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring has least for now.

Been having some mild weather here in W. Wisconsin for the past week, and it's supposed to continue for at least another week, although I see the dreaded word 'snow' in next weekends forecast. Anyway, I moved my plants outside last week, but I'm guessing I may move them back into the garage by the weekend, depending on how cold it actually will get. Hopefully, it's only a short-term stay in there.

I checked my S. purpurea seedlings that I'm doing the fertilizer experiment on. I have no idea where my digital camera is, so I didn't get any pics, but there appears to be no difference between them at this point, which I think is 6 weeks since I started fertilizing.

I planted out some seeds last night that have been stratifying since Feb. 4, which are listed on the post from that day. I also was disposing of some seed trays that I planted around Christmas that had no germination, mostly older seeds, but was surprised to find 1 Pretty N Pink - openpollinated, and 1 Leah Wilkerson x oreophila seedling. I guess it pays to be patient with seed germination.

The plants I got from Lois Ochs via Ebay are sending up their first pitchers, and 3 of them are sending up flowers. May have to do a cross in the greenhouse, although 2 of them are unknowns.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Plants

I bid on and won 5 plants that Lois Ochs was selling on Ebay. Well, I got the package on Thursday, and besides the 5 I won, she included a "grab-bag" that had 16! unlabelled rhizomes in it! That was so nice of her. I had prepared 3 6.5-gallon minibogs, I was going to plant the 5 I won, interspersed with some of my better 2-year-old seedlings. Well, I managed to fit all 21 in the 3 bogs, but only 2 of my seedlings. Alot of the 16 were pretty small rhizomes, but these bogs will have to be thinned out for sure in another year or two.
The "known" plants that I got:
- S. leucophylla - Hurricane Creek White
- S. x 'Bug Pipes' - a minor x psittacina hybrid. I had this plant before, purchased from David Crump when I visited his place in Charlotte, NC, several years ago. It perished 2 winters ago, and I was ecstatic when I saw Lois offering it on Ebay.
- S. alabamensis x 'Hummer's Okee Classic'. I'm not sure if there was a typo or not on the Ebay listing. I haven't asked Lois yet, but I wonder if it is really just the 'Hummer's Okee Classic' cultivar. Either way, I'm happy.
- 2 unknowns - one is an all red, kind of x mitchelliana-looking plant, and the other is a flava/oreophila-looking hybrid.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Last of the Seeds...for now

Stratified my last batch of seeds, for the time being anyway. I have to try and remember that space is finite. I wrapped these, too, in paper towel, but I decided to soak them in peat tea that I brewed up, rather than just RO water. I figured this would be at least a little more natural. I also went ahead and soaked the ones from the previous post, even though they're pretty much ready to be planted now. I'll give them another week or two. Anyway, here's what I stratified:
-'Doreen's Colossus' x ('Leah Wilkerson' x oreophila)
-'Bud Wilkerson' x catesbaei 'Grande'
-'June Bug' - open pollinated
- x excellens - open pollinated
- mixed complex hybrids (ICPS)
- S. jonesii (ICPS)
- S. alabamenis (ICPS)

I also stratified several sets of 15 seeds, from my "seed bank" of open-pollinated species/hybrids collected over the years. I've kept them all in one envelope, so I have no idea what they are. I've got a few from this collection that are 2 yrs old now and there is really a nice diversity of pretty hybrids out of it. Anyway, I have a plan on doing a little research project with them. Basically, it will be similar to the purpurea fertilization study I mentioned in an earlier post, but a little more in depth. The treatments on these seeds will be as follows: Control (no treatment), treatment with foliar Miracid solution, treatment with soil application of Osmocote, treatment with Plant Helper (Trichoderma spp.), treatment with Miracid + Plant Helper, and treatment with Osmocote + Plant Helper. For those that don't know, Plant Helper is a microorganism that forms a symbiosis with plants, fighting off other soil-borne pathogens and supposedly increasing plant growth rates. I guess we will find out if it works on Sarracenia, and if so, how well. More info can be found at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fertilizer Experiment

I decided to do a little un-scientific experiment regarding fertilization of Sarracenia seedlings. I have some wild-collected S. purpurea seeds from two different locations in WI, roughly 120 miles apart. So I figured I'd fertilize one of them and not the other, using a Miracid solution as a foliar application approximately every 2 weeks. Obviously, it would've been better to just fertilize half of each location, but I didn't really plan too much for this. There could be inherent differences between the two populations. Anyway, here's the first pictures taken today, 2 weeks after the first fertilizer application, and 5 min. after the 2nd. I will update this post every few weeks or so until whenever. I'm not taking any measurements of any kind - just a visual comparison. The tray on the top is from Bayfield Co., from a small boggy area right next to a backroad, on the edge of a small lake. This area was very overgrown with trees and I suspect succession is creeping in and it may not be a suitable Sarracenia habitat 20 years from now. These will be the fertilized seedlings. The tray on the bottom is from Forest Co., from an open bog habitat surrounding a small lake. This was a very "healthy" looking bog, lots of orhcids and sundews present in the area. These will be unfertilized. Both sets of seeds germinated right around Christmas of 2009 and are currently kept in a greenhouse, in near hothouse conditions. I will move them to my backyard when the weather allows in late Spring, and back to the greenhouse in late Fall.
Feb. 13, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Could've Been

I have not had good luck raising Sarracenia from seed yet. It seems after 2 years, I lose them, to what I do not know. I have good luck the first two years, then for whatever reason, they don't make it through the second winter. I guess I baby them the first winter, but treat them like mature plants the second, which apparently is the wrong way to go about it. At least I've learned, and hopefully my large crop of 2 year-olds survives. Actually, they have all survived this winter and are beginning to grow now. It probably helps that my wife is in charge of a brand-new greenhouse where she works, and she's cool with me putting my own plants in there, which is where they are now. Anyway, I've had some potentially nice-looking plants that are now compost over the past few years. Here are/were some of my favorites:

This was from some wild-collected S. x moorei seeds, from Walton Co., FL. I believe I got them from Brooks Garcia, but I can't remember for sure. It sure was a vigorous grower and probably would've been a giant, had it lived.

This was 'Citronelli' x (flava x psittacina). Not the greatest looking plant, but it looks like it would've had a unique shape, heavily influenced by the flava x psitt parent. 'Citronelli' is an unregistered name to a leuco x alata x rubra natural hybrid.
(flava x alata) x (leucophylla x purpurea)
I was especially bummed over losing this one, it was (alata x flava) x (leucophylla x purpurea). It looked a lot like the alata x flava parent in the coloration, with a bit of the shape being influenced by the purp x leuco parent. Here's another photo:
(alata x flava) x (leucophylla x purpurea)
And another...
(alata x flava) x (leucophylla x purpurea)

Here's another that really ticks me off when I see it. A very strongly colored (alata x leucophylla) x [psittacina x (purpurea x minor)]. Even at 1 year old, I could tell this one was going to be special. Here's 2 pics of it:
(alata x leucophylla) x 'Lady Bug'
(alata x leucophylla) x 'Lady Bug'

The following plant was from the first batch of seeds I ever raised, from mixed hybrid seed from the ICPS. I had literally a hundred of them in a pot that all germinated. At one point, something happened that killed them all off except this one. I actually think they were eaten by something, if memory serves me correctly. No idea what it could've been, but I see traits of purpurea, flava and leucophylla in it:
unknown, from ICPS mixed hybrid seed

Here's yet another that I get ticked off about. Another cross I did, this one was 'Extreme Unction' x 'Ladies In Waiting', and seemed to show a perfect blend of the two parents:
'Extreme Unction' x 'Ladies In Waiting'

I have a few more that I can't seem to locate the pictures right now, but when I do, I will post them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Stratified some seeds today, the last batch for awhile, unless something good comes along. I'm trying the "wet paper towel method", where the seeds are wrapped in a wet paper towel and placed in the fridge, till sometime in March, unless I forget about them. At that point they will be sown on long-fibered sphagnum. Before, I had always direct-sown and stratified them that way. Here's what went in the fridge:
-S. flava x open-pollinated
-S. ('Leah Wilkerson' x oreophila) x 'Leah Wilkerson'
-S. 'Leah Wilkerson' F2
-S. (purpurea x flava) x [minor x (psittacina x minor)]
-S. 'Alucard' x "unknown"
-S. "unknown" - seeds "Pyro" gave away on Terraforums

Hopefully, I end up with at least a few nice plants out of this.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Collection

Here is what I have as of today:

MiniBog #1 (2006)
The oldest minibog and in definite need of dividing this spring.
S. (oreophila 'Sand Mtn' x flava) x leucophylla
S. alabamensis x oreophila
S. oreophila x 'willisii'
S. x 'Lady Bug'
S. x 'Love Bug'
S. x 'June Bug'
S. x 'Red Bug'
S. x 'Doodle Bug'
S. x catesbaei F2
S. x unknown - probably psittacina x rubra

MiniBog #2 (2007)
S. x 'Judith Hindle'
S. purpurea x flava
S. (rubra x oreophila) x purpurea
S. minor x psittacina
S. oreophila
S. purpurea x psittacina
S. 'Wilkerson's Red' x 'Flies Demise'
S. leucophylla x purpurea
S. (rubra x oreophila) x (purpurea x flava)

MiniBog#3 (2009)
S. x 'Mardi Gras'
S. x 'Ladies In Waiting'
S. x 'Scarlett Belle'
S. x 'Red Sumatra'
S. x 'Imhotep'
S. x 'Cobra Nest'
S. x 'Dixie Lace'
S. leucophylla 'Tarnok'
S. oreophila x purpurea
S. flava x purpurea
S. alata x leucophylla
S. (leucophylla x rubra) x [(purpurea x flava) x flava]
S. leucophylla x flava

Individually Potted Plants
I definitely want to get these moved into new minibogs as time/money permits.
S. x 'Red Blush'
S. x 'Cobra Nest'
S. oreophila x psittacina
S. x unknown (Bob Ziemer H2)
S. x unknown (all-green, but not antho-free, flava-ish, maybe some purpurea)
S. x 'Flies Demise'
S. purpurea x flava ornata
S. oreophila
S. flava rubricorpora
S. alata "Black" x flava "red"
S. (purpurea x leucophylla) x purpurea
S. leucophylla "yellow-flowered"
S. (leucophylla x minor) x (minor x psittacina)
S. minor
S. (leucophylla x psittacina) x flava
S. purpurea x rubra (antho-free)
S. x 'Abnorma' (2 different clones)
S. x 'Gin Goblin' (2 different clones)
S. x 'Judith Adrian' (3 different clones)
S. x 'Medusa'
S. x 'The Minor Hybrid'
S. x 'Roccoco'

I also have a ton of seedlings that sprouted in Feb. of '08 that are doing great.
I have one lone seedling from '09 left, and it too nearly died.
I have a ton of seeds that sprouted around Christmas 2009, and a bunch more that are about to be put into stratification. I will go into more detail on the seedlings in future posts, because they are much more exciting to me.

A Little Backstory

I've been growing Sarracenia since roughly 1997, when I started grad school in Missouri. Spent 1 year in Virginia Beach, VA after that, and have been back in Wisconsin since 2004. At that time my collection was at its peak, probably around 75 different plants. However, the first few winters were deadly, for unknown reasons, and by 2007, my collection was probably close to 1/3 of what it had been. To this day, I really don't know what killed off my plants. I've been keeping them in our unheated garage for the winter, usually late Nov. to April. One winter I kept a thermometer in there to see how cold it actually got. The lowest temp I ever actually saw was 15F, and that was during one of those cold snaps where it would get down to -20F at night and barely make it to 0F during the day. Each spring, when I moved everything back outside, everything looked fine, as far as I could tell. Most of last years' leaves would be brown, but there would still be green or red color at the bases, and the growth points themselves looked alive. It was also not uncommon for flowers to start poking up while still in the garage. It was after moving them out that things deteriorated. The best I can describe it is that the plants quickly dessicated somehow. Where every part that still had color suddenly turned pale and brittle, as if all water was removed. I never saw any signs of fungus until after a plant had died. Maybe I didn't water enough during winter, although they pretty much would stay frozen solid for most of the winter, so I saw no real need to water. Occasionally I would dump fresh snow on them, but that was it. One thing I did notice that most deaths were to plants that were in individual pots, which was the vast majority of them. I have one minibog that is several years old now which has not lost a plant. Another one that is a year younger that only lost a couple. Last year, I planted a bunch in a huge minibog, maybe 3' long, 2' wide, and 1.5' deep. We'll see how that comes through in another few months.