About the Finn in the other end of the cable

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Holiday report

Howdy howdy. You might think that "Yay! DW is in his home and will start writing about his plants again." No, I'm not! I'm still on holiday on the other side of Finland in Alavus. It has been just so peaceful in here so I took a bike and cycled around the countryside. Now here's the lucky part, I was cycling in the woods and suddenly I saw a swamp and went to see it closer just for fun.

Well you happen to have one dam lucky author here, because there were hundreds of Drosera rotundifolia growing on this swamp. The sphagnum was pretty dense compared to most of the swamps I've been to and it only pressed down few centimeters under my feet.

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The swamp seemed pretty untouched, mostly because of it's location (Ain't gonna tell you the precise location. Hahaha!) and because there grew no cloudberries, which are some of the most delicious berries growing in Finland (But not in my opinion. I agree with Gordon Ramsay when he visited Finland and tasted cloudberry jam he just asked "Do you feed this for your horses?")

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The diversity in this population is pretty good for just being few hundred plants. There were mostly youngish I'd say 2-3 years old plants with a diameter about 5 cm (2"). They grew on sphagnum and most of them had erect leaves. The plant in the following picture is about 9 cm (3.5") in diameter and the leaves have a nice nice upward curve.

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The plants had in general a very rich red coloration and as you can see most of the sundews there are soon ready to bloom. I mus consider returning there few days later to see how's the flowering.

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These are really the biggest sundews I've ever seen in the nature but I've seen about three or four populations. One of the populations I've seen grows on sand and I hope that I'll be able to travel there during this summer. The third population I've seen is in Finnish Lapland but I don't remember much about it.
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"Got 2 go. Bye!"
And yes, I had to look if there were some birds too. In nearby fields I saw Numenius arquata or Eurasian Curlew which happens to be Finland's largest wader.

Now that's all for a while. As soon as I get home it will be time to order some new plants and try a new web shop. After my N. 'Rebecca Soper' died it left a large empty spot in my main terraria, and that one spot needs to be filled. But hey, one reader's wish has come true. This is how the sundews grow in Finnish nature. If you have something you would like me to write more about then please leave a comment or send me e-mail to kihokki01[at]gmail.com and I'll try to work it out somehow. Now it is getting tan and all summery stuff for me. Got to go but see you later!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The mistakes I regret in this hobby

Hello everybody!

When repotting some of my old sundews I started thinking my past in this hobby. I do regret losses of some plants and doing things wrong way and here is a blog post about them, just to show you that you can learn from your mistakes.

1. Nepenthes 'Rebecca Soper' my latest loss. Month or so ago plants three largest stems dried for no good reason so I cut them off. Few weeks ago the plant had two smaller growing points, of which one had mold attack and another just turned black. This is one of my fav neps and it was really hard to see it doing so bad. After all life was gone from the pot I just tuck my hand in the pot and scooped the media on a newspaper and I was terrified to see how the soil had become a snail and slug farm. I then took the media outside and boiled it to kill the slugs and snails and keeping them from not infesting my or my neighbor's gardens. Rule number one when dealing with ready potted plants: Replace the original, possibly slug infested soil, with your own soil mix. Also be sure to use clean pots.

2. Drosera slackii with a rule Don't buy a fancy plant without making sure you can provide it the conditions it needs. When I saw D. slackii on the internet I just thought "WHoa! A sundew that can grow up to 9 cm wide. I gotta get that now." I did not do enough googlin' about the species, which likes more cooler temperatures than I could provide to it. Well sphagnum based potting mix could have saved it but it was just too late. Do your homework so you don't need to write angst filled blog posts like this.

3. Nepenthes veitchii 'Golden Perisome' the 1st. Bought this as a lowland plant and gave it more like intermediate condition. It grew but just weaker and weaker until it got moldy. On a cold winters day I just got fed up with the plant. To protect the rest of my collection I threw N. veitchii 'Golden Perisome' the 1st into the snow. Rule number three: Remember the ventilation.

4. Nepenthes sanguinea is my second largest regretted loss in my whole time growing carnivorous plants and it died because I lost it. The plant was moved temporarily to another place for cleaning terraria. I didn't find the plant until it was too late and the plant had dried. As a brief reminder that even the most  forgiving plants have their limits. But not D. capensis or U. subulata, they're almost immortal.

5. Dionaea muscipula. Almost everybody growing carnivorous plants has killed one of these. I've killed at least three of these but the one I have now has survived one or two winters already. The rule here is: Thank science for cheap tissue cultured plants so we don't need to take plants from the wilds. I wait for the news about police getting the culprits caught. (If you don't know what I'm talking about then read the previous blog post.)

6. Non registered post packets. This happened to me once: I bought few plants from this one person, who I think is very trustworthy and good seller. When choosing the shipment type I chose unregistered because it was cheapest and the packets move pretty fast in EU. Well the Finnish or the other post office lost my packet for a while and it took me was it 2 or 3 weeks to get the packet, I don't really remember. There  were two plants, of which one survived and other, eventually the more expensive plant had rot. It absolutely was post office's fault but on the other hand I could have get some refunds from the post office because of what happened but past is past. Rule is: Prefer registered shipping. It really is worth it. For registered packets are handled outside of the normal packet traffic, possibilities getting registered packet in time are higher and you also get the tracking code.

7. Various Sarracenia pitcher plants. My second carnivorous plant to be grown was a Sarracenia purpurea, bought along with P. x 'Tina' and D. capensis 'Albino', which are still alive and doing fine. The problem with these plants for me was dormancy. I tried placing them in a cold sauna, a cellar, in a ventilation window and last two times in a garage and refridgerator, which were the best places for me, until I try building a bog garden. Rule for this is: Try, fail, and learn from your mistakes which kind of compresses the whole idea of this blog post.

Now after this purge from the negative past karma I'm ready to move forward and extend my growlist even more.

In case you wonder why no pictures then here's the reason, I'm on a holiday while doing some babysitting. On the other side of Finland from where I live. Here I'm just hanging out with my sister and trying to hunt some new plants for my collection. See you again in a week or so. Until then "Hakuna matata" (it means no worries) and enjoy the summer if you live on the northern hemisphere.

Also if any of you my dear readers have extras of the following then please contact me for possibility of swap or money. Plants are Utricularia longifolia x alpina, nelumbifolia x geminiloba, nephrophylla (other than white flowered form), nephrophylla x geminiloba or vice versa, nephrophylla x nelumbifolia or vice versa and 'Jitka' (quelchii x praetermissa).

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Taking plants from the nature

Today I was very shocked to notice the headline "More than 1,000 Venus' flytraps stolen" at http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20130530/ARTICLES/130539991

So in Wilmington's Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden some fools dug up over thousand flytraps which is 90% of the amount of these plants in that area. Venus flytrap aka Dionaea muscipula has been listed as a vulnerable species in IUCN's listing and every plant taken from the wild takes the whole species closer to extinction.

The city of Wilmington valued that every plant's value is $20 and the value of all of the plants stolen is therefore $20, 000 but in reality the value lost is even more. Every plant that were dug up were all unique by their genes having different genes and mutations and when this many  plants are taken from a single spot the vigor of the whole population gets weaker for possibilities of plant being pollinated with it's sibling-plants make plants born from this pollination a lot weaker than plants from pollination of two non related plants. That is the reason why you don't pair up any pets with their siblings.

The above is the reason why tissue culture became popular way to produce plants. Tissue culture meaning taking a piece of plant and growing it in agar with hormones and sterile conditions to produce a large amount of plants for sale and therefore for cultivation and so collecting plants from the wild is almost useless. If someone in somewhere accidentally kills a single tissue cultured flytrap it really doesn't matter because there are millions of clones of the same plant but killing a plant from the wild is killing a unique plant with no copies of it and maybe with some great genes to help strengthen the population.

I remember reading that in some bog areas in US flytraps were painted with invisible paint, which comes visible under UV light to track the plants dug up from the nature and I hope they painted these ones too to catch the one(s) who did this soon.

If you have read this post this far then you may be thinking: What can I do? I'll tell you what you can do to prevent the extinction of Dionaea muscipula. If you live in the US make absolutely sure that the plants you are going to buy are produced with tissue culture, at least you can see does the plant have "just dug up from the wild" look on their media. Avoid people who sell plants from their cars and in marketplaces. By keeping these guys not having your money they will quit taking plants from the wild because they can't get any profit. Trust only trusted companies that sell these plants. I live in Finland so it is very hard for me to say which companies are trustworthy in US and which are not but at least Sarracenia Northwest at http://www.cobraplant.com/ grow all their temperate plants themselves and take no plants from the nature. If you want more specific info about the trustworthy vendors look at carnivorous plants forums such as Carnivorous Plants UK, Terra Forums, International Carnivorous Plants Society's forum.

Be responsible and buy only tissue cultured plants for nature is our greatest treasure and taking even a single plant from the wild is stealing a piece of this treasure from everybody.