Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Flower

It finally happened, about 3 weeks later than last year, the first blossom opened up on my garage-overwintered plants. It is a purpurea x flava, and it's the same plant that bloomed first last year, while I was in Canada, so I never got to see it last year. I thought it would've opened up sooner, but we had some pretty cool temps the past week, including a frost advisory on the night of May 26th, although we ended up not getting any frost. Unfortunately, there's nothing to cross it with. There's a few more that are probably a few days away from opening, one of which may be a duplicate of this one. Another week or so and there should be dozens opened. I don't think I'll save any of the pollen from this one though. It's not exactly the prettiest plant, the only trait that may be desirable is its large pitcher size.

Sarracenia purpurea x flava

In other news, I moved all of the plants from the greenhouse back home, but most were/are in pretty bad shape. Besides the misting of hard tap water and the uneven table they were sitting on, which led to some plants being probably too saturated with water, while others were too dry, there is also a recurrence of an insect problem. I noticed some aphids, but there is a lot of mealy bugs. I ended up throwing a bunch more away, they were already dead, and time will tell how many end up surviving. Hopefully most!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mid-May 2011

Took some pictures last night of the minibogs in the backyard.
Sarracenia leucophylla 'Hurricane Creek White'
This is S. leucophylla 'Hurricane Creek White' showing some new growth. This is the one plant I thought may have not survived the winter. It did have some kind of saprophytic fungi on it when I moved the plants outside. You can see some dark coloration on some of last years leaves, which is what remains of that assault. Obviously, the plant survived though.

Drosera filiformis
Here is some Drosera filiformis coming out of dormancy. This species seems to have no trouble surviving the winters up here in WI. I get more and more every year, and I've never purchased one before. I must've originally got one as a hitchhiker, and it has slowly spread by seeds around most of my minibogs. I'm not complaining!

Sarracenia oreophila
S. oreophila. It kind of appears to be two separate plants, but it is one. Just a lg. branched rhizome. As the literature will tell you, they are pretty cold hardy, and this is probably one of the older plants I currently have. Totally unfazed by the growing conditions here.

Sarracenia purpurea x jonesii - anthocyanin-free
An anthocyanin-free purpurea x jonesii, with a flower bud and emerging pitcher. This is the first year this plant has bloomed for me, although it too is one of my older plants. It is in an individual pot, not a minibog, so it must be pretty cold-hardy as well.

Sarracenia 'Snowflake'
S. 'Snowflake'. This plant was purchased last spring from Meadowview, and in a testament to the quality of their plants, it has 5 flower buds on it this year, the most of any of my plants.

Sarracenia  unknown hybrid
An unknown hybrid, one of a series of unknowns from Bob Ziemer. This one was given the codename of H12 by him, and may be an S. oreophila, or a hybrid with it. This particular plant was received from Robert Co last spring and did not produce a flower this year, but it has sent up a nice crop of early pitchers.

Sarracenia 'Gin Goblin'
This is S. 'Gin Goblin'. I have 2 of these. They were released by California Carnivores and is a cross of (rubra x oreophila) x 'Adrian Slack'. They are seed grown, so all are different, and the two I have are certainly very different from each other. This one was planted in a minibog last spring and is flowering this year. My other one is still in its original pot and did/will not flower this year. An interesting note on this one, if you look at the pitchers of this one, you would swear that S. purpurea is mixed in with it. I sent an email to Peter D'amato, of CA Carnivores, and he replied that 'Adrian Slack' may actually have some S. purpurea in its heritage, although there's no way to really know. So either it does, or this particular plant was mislabeled or something. Here's a pic of the plant from last summer:
Sarracenia x "Gin Goblin"

Unknown Sarracenia hybrid
This is the flower bud on another of Bob Ziemer's unknowns, H6. This one appears to be some kind of S. flava hybrid, maybe a flava x (flava x ???) type. You can see his "H-series" at this URL:

Sarracenia 'Boob Tube' x open-pollinated
This is a 3-yr-old open-pollinated "Boob Tube". This is one of a few of my own seed-grown plants that are flowering for the first time this year. I posted previously on an open-pollinated alata x flava hybrid that flowered last fall, at about 30 months of age. That plant too has sent up a flower stalk this spring, as well as one of its siblings. So this group is the first set of plants that I've raised from seed to flowering size, at 3 yrs old. Thank the regular foliar application of a Miracid solution the first 2 years of growth.

Drosera rotundifolia
Here's another sundew, Drosera rotundifolia (i think). I have never purchased a sundew in my life (not counting the carnivorous plant kit I purchased in the 1980's, none of which survived very long!), so this was another hitchhiker that has made itself at home. I blame California Carnivores, well not really, but it seems a lot of plants purchased from them have hitchhikers. Once again, I'm not complaining.

Sarracenia (leucophylla x (leucophylla x flava)) x open-pollinated
Here is another 3-year-old plant I raised from seed, flowering for the first time. The label has totally faded away, so I'm not 100% sure what it is, but I'm about 95% sure it is an open-pollinated leucophylla x (leucophylla x flava), the mother plant originally purchased from Cook's Carnivorous Plants back around, say, 2001. It's still alive too, and actually is blooming again this year, for the first time since these seeds were harvested. If I remember correctly, it had some really nice pink flowers. I'll find out in about a week or so.

Sweet White Violet (Viola blanda)
This is a plant that I'm pretty sure is called "sweet white violet", or Viola blanda. I don't know if this was a hitchhiker, or the seed was present in the bales of peat moss I've purchased over the years, but this plant has spread everywhere and is pretty difficult to eradicate. It eventually forms these underground runners and just spreads everywhere. It seems to do no harm, but I have my reservations.

Bog Rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla)
This is bog rosemary, a plant native to bogs in Wisconsin, and elsewhere I presume. I purchased this from a garden center last spring and, obviously, it seems to be doing fine in this minibog so far. I still wonder if that garden center propagates these or digs them up. I've never seen them for sale anywhere else.

Sarracenia purpurea x flava
Lastly, this is a flower bud on a purpurea x flava hybrid. This looks like it'll be the first to bloom this year, and it was last year. I have several purpurea x flava hybrids, but there are two that look identical. This is one of them. I received one from California Carnivores many years ago, in a "fancy Sarracenia hybrid collection". The other I received from Lois Ochs 2 years ago, and I think she used to work there. The pitchers definitely look identical, and they are both going to flower this year, so we'll see. I guess there's no way to know for sure without some DNA testing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bog Visits

My wife ran a marathon this past Saturday. I knew I'd have a few hours to kill, so I had planned to go geocaching with our 2 kids while she ran. I selected a bunch of geocaches more or less along her marathon route, so we could periodically cross paths with her and cheer her on. It so happened the marathon was in Vilas County, WI, an area full of bogs. And I was able to find some geocaches that would put us within walking distance of a few of them. So we braved the 39 degree day, with on and off drizzle, and went bogtrotting/geocaching.
One stop was at the Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, SE of the small town of Three Lakes, WI. A pretty desolate area with a really nice bog margin around the lake. Pitcher plants were not that abundant, but were present, including this very large one not far off the boardwalk. I wonder how old it is:
Sarracenia purpurea

Here's a view of the actual bog area, pretty typical for this part of the country:
Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, Forest Co., WI
It's still pretty early in the year, and I think things are probably a couple of weeks behind the usual spring. I didn't even see any buds emerging on the pitcher plants. The only thing I saw in bloom was Leatherleaf, a shrub in the same family as blueberries and rhododendrons that is commonly found in bogs around here. Here's a shot of the blooms:

This next photo is at Katie Lake, a small bog lake in the Vilas County Forest, west of Eagle River, WI. This bog is a little different than the previous one, in that there is not much of a shrub layer. Leatherleaf was the predominant cover at Shelp Lake. Here, basically just a carpet of Sphagnum with some sedges growing amongst it:
Katie Lake
And here's a single pitcher plant mostly obscured by the Sphagnum:
Sarracenia purpurea
Besides some sedges, you can also see cranberry growing, mainly in the top half of the photo, it's the plant with the small green leaves.

This last photo is at Mud Minnow Lake, also in the Vilas County Forest. Here, leatherleaf once again was the predominant groundcover. The conifers are black spruce and tamarack. Black spruce is the one with the needles present. The trees that look like they have no leaves are the tamarack. It's a conifer than sheds its needles in the fall, and at this time, they are just beginning to leaf out:
Mud Minnow Lake Bog
Here's a close-up of the tamarack leafing out (this one was taken at the Scott/Shelp Lake State Natural Area):
Tamarack, Scott & Shelp Lake State Natural Area, WI

In other news, my outdoor plants are moving along nicely. Alot of new pitchers are extending up, although not quite close to opening yet. I've counted 64 flower stalks, and that will probably be about as many as I'll get, there may be a few more that haven't quite emerged yet. Still probably a week or two until the first ones open.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Finally, spring has arrived, and I hope it stays! We actually had snow flakes in the air on May 2nd, but hopefully that's the last of that stuff until autumn. At this time, it looks like all of my garage-stored plants survived the winter. Just about every one of them now either is sending up new pitchers and/or flowers. There's probably around a couple dozen visible flower buds now, and I'm assuming more will be forthcoming, now that milder temps have moved in. I'm especially excited to see a few 3-yr old plants with buds. It'll be my first year of doing crosses with plants I raised from seed. If the flowering times work out, I would like to cross two open-pollinated siblings that have buds right now. I'm curious to see what such a cross could create. I also noticed a bud on one of my 'Gin Goblin' plants. I'm not sure how many others that have one of those has gotten a flower yet, but I haven't seen any publicized crosses with that plant yet. I also see a bud on an anthocyanin-free purpurea x jonesii. AF plants intrigue me and I look forward to having a few crosses with that plant, although the offspring won't be AF (unless crossed with another AF plant), but the offspring will carry the gene(s) and can pass it on to future crosses.
So now the waiting game begins for the flowers to actually open. I expect it will be at least a few more weeks until that happens, depending on temperatures. To give a perspective on this spring, compared to last, I was in British Columbia from May 4-May 15 last year, and a couple of flowers on my plants opened during that time frame. This year, there will definitely be no flowers open by May 15. The tallest flower stalk now is about 2" high. Things should be getting into full swing by the end of the month though. I even hear whispers of some very warm weather possibly settling in about 10 days from now. If it does occur, that should really speed things along. For the time being, high temps are in the 60's, and lows in the 30's.