On Saturday, GWAPA’s meeting was hosted by Michael Szesze, the owner and operator of Carnivorous Plant Nusery, in Derwood, MD. Michael runs an impressive local and online business, exclusively selling bog plants, with a huge emphasis on carnivorous plants. He currently has two greenhouses, filled with healthy plants.
Walking through the nursery, it could have been easy to overlooked all kinds of interesting plants. The sheer number of pots was quite staggering. Michael explained to us that carnivorous plants are pretty easy to keep provided you follow a few strict rules. Provide a nutrient-free environment, water with nutrient-free water, and don’t overfeed.
He pots all of his plants in a near 50/50 mixture of peat and quartz sandbox sand. For some plants he may adjust the ratio slightly, but he says that if you start with a 50/50 mixture, you’ll be able to grow just about any carnivorous plant. He collects his own rainwater, linking all of his home’s downspouts to a subterranean series of cisterns to store the water.
Outside of the greenhouses, Michael keeps several boxes of carnivorous plants. He is able to overwinter these plants in place, covering them and monitoring the temperature under the cover to ensure that it does not reach 22 degrees F. He explained that 22 degrees F is the bursting point for most vascular plants, so if you maintain the temperature above that, your plants will be fine.
Michael recommended against explicitly feeding carnivorous plants, as enough insects will find their way to the plants on their own. He leaves his greenhouses open during the summer to allow critters to come in and fall prey to his plants. He has also effectively used carnivorous plants as a fly and pest control method on his porch.
In addition to the grow houses and boxes, Michael has maintains an attractive bog/pond area in his backyard. Many of the plants in the pond are not specifically bog plants, but he has filled the surrounding areas with the peat/sand mixture, so various carnivorous plants line the pond’s border.
Despite being a steamy rainy day, I very much enjoyed visiting this Carnivorous Plant Nursery. In addition to perusing the greenhouses and grounds, we also held our regular GWAPA aquatic plant auction. There were some serious deals to be had on plants this month!
Of course, the dangerous thing about going to places like this is that now it’s tempting to try and start a little bog to try and grow these plants. I was able to forestall that impulse at the meeting, but I could foresee a bog plant or two in my future. Comments welcome!