Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I cut the flower off of my carnivorous plant?
It's a personal preference as to whether to cut or keep the flowers. Flowering does require energy, lots of it. If your plant is stressed or growing weakly, it would be better for the plant to put its energy into recovery, rather than flowering. It is true that a weaken plant will do a "swan song" by flowering to help ensure the survival of the line. So cutting off the flower will help that plant. On the other hand, if you like flowers, and the plant is doing well, keep the flower, they are pretty. Most CPs do not self-fertilize, so if you expect seeds, 2 plants flowering at the same time and exchanging pollen is required. Mother Nature does not go around the bog, cutting off flowers. So it comes down to a simple personal choice. I typically trim off flowers on indoor plants, and let the ones outdoor bloom their hearts out. Either is fine.

How do I pot my carnivorous plant?
There is a great detailed page of explanation for Potting a CP. Use CP Soil mix, not regular potting soil, as it will eventually burn the roots and kill the plant. Use a plastic pot, as terra cotta pots will eventually leach minerals into the soil, and kill the plant. Unwrap your plant to the bare roots. Add some soil to the pot and push a deep hole into the soil in the center of the pot with a pencil or your finger. Extend the root(s) down into the hole so that the crown of the plant is at the soil surface. Bring the soil into contact with the root. Wet the soil generously.

What does "bare-root" mean?
"Bare-root" is a horticultural term that means the soil is carefully removed from the plant before shipping. The advantage of bare-root plants is that you can see the roots directly for planting, and no soil pests are introduced into your collection. We ship our plants bare-root and wrapped in moist long-fiber sphagnum peat, then wrapped in paper toweling. This ensures the plant stays moist and healthy during shipping. Since peat is not considered soil, some starter plants will come in peat plugs.

Why do you offer different sizes of plants?
Growers often want plants of different sizes for different purposes. For some, smaller younger plants are more economical. Others want a more natural look in their plantings with plants of various sizes. Here's a description of our plant sizes.

Do I need to add water to the pitchers?
Some references have suggested adding water to the traps, especially for the nepenthes. The idea is to help the plant retain moisture. Loosing the digestive fluid within the trap can easily happen when the plant is moved, as when shipped. The plant will replace these digestive fluids, if kept in good growing conditions. I would rather spray the plant to help it along, rather than dilute the digestive fluids. Most pitcher plants have hoods that act like umbrellas, and naturally shield the fluids from dilution, like Sarracenia  flava, S. leuco., Nepenthes, etc. Some, though, do have pitchers open to the rain, i.e., S. purpurea, Heliamphora, etc. It doesn't hurt to add water initially, but don't do it on a regular basis.

Do you ship to Canada or other Countries?
We only ship live plants to USA addresses. CITIES and APHIS regulations require the importer to have special permits and phytosanitation certificates. In addition for US export, plants must be inspected and certified at the APHIS Inspection in New York. This requires special travel and/or a handler, all of which continues to increase the price of shipping. This is often more costly than the plants themselves and makes shipping impractical for most hobbyist.

Do I need to trim off brown, black or dead leaves/traps?
Mother Nature does not trim her plants in the wild, so it is not necessary for the plant's health. But many growers like a neat, clean looking collection or garden, and trimming back dead or dying growth is fine. Keep in mind that for pitcher plants, the plant can still absorb nutrition from the tube trap even though it is browning or dying. Fall cleaning of growing beds can be helpful for reducing over-wintering insects or pathogens.

My plant looks stressed from shipping. What should I do?
Shipping is stressful for plants. They may loose a trap or two, or some traps may have turned yellow, brown or black. This is not unusual. In the dark confines of shipping, they are conserving energy for the growing points. Once they are provided good growing conditions, they will recover nicely. Provide them with humidity, lots of water, and avoid direct sunlight for a week or so.

How do carnivorous plants attract insects?
Carnivorous plants attract insects through a wide variety of means. Most emit scents or have coloration patterns that attract prey. Some, like many pitcher plants, rely on the odor of decaying materials within their traps to lure in more prey.

How many CPs do I need to rid my yard of insects?
Carnivorous Plants will help reduce the numbers of insects. They will never get rid of all of them You would need a very dense and large planting to make a significant dent in the pesty numbers. That being said though, I keep a 12" pot of Sundews and Pitcher Plants on our patio, and it has made a difference on the number of mosquitoes that bite at our ankles or yellow jackets that try to steal food from our lunch/dinner plates.

Will CPs attract more insects to my yard than are already there?
This has never been my experience. The attractive nature of CPs is very limited in its range. It will work for nearby insects, but will not attract your neighbor's insects into your yard.

When will I get my plants?
We ship plants USPS Priority Mail on the Tuesdays after payment is received. Folks typically get their orders on Thursday/Friday. Our nursery is in a very rural area. Overnight and RUSH orders are available for an additional charge, which are available options in the check-out procedure of the shopping cart.

Do carnivorous plants eat stink bugs?
Yes they do. That is as long as the trap is large enough to capture them, such as with pitcher plants. Keep in mind the attractive ability is not specific to any one type of insect, but typically lures in protein-eating insects, such as ants, flies, wasps, yellow jackets, stink bugs, etc. They do not eat pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies.

Are the plants you ship actively growing or dormant?
That depends on the variety and/or the time of year. Tropical plants do not go dormant and are shipped as growing plants year round. Temperate CPs such as VFTs and Sarracenia, do require dormancy and are shipped as such from late Fall to early Spring.

What is the easiest carnivorous plant to grow?
Most CPs have the same growing requirements and are equally easy to grow. I recommend any of the VFTs, Purple Pitcher Plant and any of the Cape Sundews for beginners. These are the plants in our Beginner's Set. Some are more demanding. Within each plant description you will find a description of "easy of growth" from easy, moderate to difficult. See more details of recommended plants.

How do I overwinter my plants?
At the nursery here in the mountains of Western Maryland, our temperate plants are grown outdoors in water boxes just below ground level. These are covered with winter horticultural fabric from late Fall through early Spring. This works quite well for us. For growers on a smaller scale, consider protecting your plants from winter burn (wind) and deep freeze, by bringing them in to a garage, under a porch or deck, or mulching with 6" of pine needles. Avoid oak or maple leaves that tend to stack up and compress like newspaper, and do not let the beds breathe. I like to place a sheet of burlap over my plants before adding the mulch to make Spring clean-up easier. I have found that it is not a matter of how cold it gets, but how fast it gets cold. Here at the nursery our protected outdoor plants survive winter temperatures at -9°F (-23°C). Some growers bare-root their temperate plants, wrap them in sphagnum moss, placed in a baggy with air holes punched into it, and they place them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. A good dormancy period is 45°F (7°C) for 45 days.

Can I water my carnivorous plants with tap water?
This is not recommended. CPs are sensitive to minerals. The dissolved minerals in hard water will burn the roots of CPs in about 90 days. This is why many novice growers kill their VFTs in 3 months. Always use mineral-free water with your carnivorous plants, such as rainwater or distilled water.  Try keeping a bucket near the downspout to collect rainwater.  Distilled water can be purchased at the grocery store, but avoid bottled drinking water.  There are simply too many minerals in it.  The condensation line from an air conditioner or heat pump is another source of mineral-free water.  Reverse-osmosis water is fine to use. Some wells do provide soft, low mineral content water, and may be fine to use. All this being said, there are times when there is no other water available, and any water is better than no water. Sometimes in mid-Summer you will have little choice. When "good" water becomes available, flood your trays or containers to wash out any acccumulating minerals, before they become a problem.

Why did my carnivorous plant die?
I don't know. Sometimes plants just die. Tap water will eventually kill them. Letting them go dry will kill them. Moving them inside and outside too frequently will kill them. Tripping VFT traps too frequently will kill them. For good growing conditons see our Growing and Care information.

Why did my VFT traps turn black?
It is normal for old traps to die, and new traps to grow. Each trap works about three times before it dies. So don't trip the traps too much. VFTs need live food to struggle and complete the closure process. Meat or cheese is too rich to be digested and will frequently blacken traps.

What is the shipping and handling?
The charges for S&H are based upon the dollar value of the order. There is a full description on the terms page. S&H includes both postage and handling. Preparing orders for shipment require more time and effort. This is a charge that would not be necessary for customers buying material already prepared at the nursery.

Do you mail catalogs?
We are sorry, but we do not provide catalogs. A full description of currently available materials is available within our website.

Do you sell wholesale and or provide discounts for large orders?
We are a retail nursery that propagates much of our own material, but do not do wholesale. We can offer some plants in dozens, but rarely hundreds or more. We do offer bulk pack of 10, 20, 50, and 100 items of typical vfts, cape sundews, and purple pitcher plants. For orders over $500 we can offer a 5% discount.

Why don't you answer the phone?
I am sorry if this happens? I am often out in the nursery or greenhouse and do not make it in time to answer the phone. Please leave a slow, clear, and brief message.

Do all the traps need to be fed?
Only one trap of the plant needs to be fed. Since each plant has many traps to catch prey, if one trap catches something, it benefits the whole plant.

I was wondering if sarracenia/flytraps can be grown in 100% sphagnum peat moss. I have always used 50:50 peat/perlite which is usually recommended. Have you ever noticed a difference growing in higher concentrations of peat, (vigor, speed of growth, color)?
You can grow sarracenia and dionaea, in pure sphagnum peat. Over the years, I’ve noticed no significant difference in sarracenia or dionaea growing in pure peat or a peat/sand mix. I do not use perlite because its floats and can be messy. I will say that I have found pure peat to decay quicker and become to mushy and compact for good root growth. But as for vigor, color, etc…no, no significant difference.

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