Bog gardening

I’ve been playing with hardy carnivorous plants for a few years now in small bog planters. The plants were outgrowing the planters, so I decided to install proper bog gardens in my front garden to really see them.

I have several types of Sarracenia (pitcher plant), Venus fly traps, sundew, and some hardy orchids planted. Bog gardens are basically ponds full of peat moss (and some sand, perlite, etc) instead of water. Must be watered with distilled or rainwater, but aside from that it’s pretty low care.


That’s really neat! I know we have some hardy pitcher plants that grow wild in the marshes around my house.


Will any of those survive 6b


Yup, all of these have been in 6b for me for several years without issue. People report most will survive to at least zone 5 with heavy mulch. Sarracenia purpurea is zone 3 hardy and naturally occurs well north into Canada. You can also container grow them and move them to a cold spot for dormancy.


Can confirm there are numerous carnivorous plants that survive zone 6B and even colder. I’ve had various varieties of Sarracenia, Drosera, Pinguicula, terrestrial Utricularia, and Dionaea in my bog garden outside here in my yard in WV, some have survived since I put the little pond liner in the ground in 2005-2006.

The Sarracenia have been the toughest and most resilient plants; for some reason feral cats and stray dogs have been the biggest problem for me (deterring them from the sandy, peaty medium and apparently sometimes they find CP’s tasty? I don’t know).

I still have divisions in the ground going from the original ‘Judith Hindle’ Sarracenia I planted when I first dug/carved out a hole in my yard and put the pond liner in and filled it w/ peat and sand mix.

I’ve only protected them outside with a layer of pine needle mulch…well I do in some years…and I’ve not really had issues with cold or winter kill except for slightly less cold hardy species or varieties like Sarracenia leucophylla getting toasted a bit. The Sarracenia are rhizomatous so are able to regrow easily if the rhizomes don’t get zapped - easy to divide every few years for more plants as well.


That looks really cool!

I work for a nursery that grows orchids and carnivorous plants, but I only work on the orchid side. I always find the carnivorous plants interesting, though.


I assume they do a lot of Nepenthes?

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Yes, a lot of those, but they have the full range of carnivorous plants.

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Must be cool to see! In Europe there is Carniflora, massive greenhouses of pitcher plants for floral use.



So cool! :grinning:

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For anyone looking into an easy way to start growing carnivorous plants, most species of Drosera (sundews) are very easy to grow in an aquarium/terrarium indoors or whiskey barrel etc “bog garden” outdoors. Indoors, I would aim for subtropical sundews like Drosera capensis, D. aliceae, D. adelae, D. natalensis, etc, and the two I have pictured below, D. multifida ‘Extrema’ and D. x ‘Marston Dragon’ are pretty easy to grow as well :

At the bottom of the aquarium/terrarium is a peat sand mix, and then about 4 inches or so of sphagnum moss to top that to plant the plants in. I pour water (rain water only, not fertilizer ever) on one side and let it flood the bottom of the terrarium to simulate boggy conditions. They like high humidity, room temps, constant moisture, and lots of light (except D. adelae) so unless it’s in/near a sunny windowsill one would need supplemental light like a LED grow light to get good growth, dew, and coloration on the sundews. I usually snip off flowers to keep them from expending energy on it if I don’t want seeds. On feeding/fertilizing them, you can give plants a light “feeding” every now and then of blood worms on healthy, dewy leaves if you don’t have bugs or gnats for them to catch.

Sundews are teeny tiny plants for a while when grown from seed but after around the 1 year mark depending on the species the subtropical ones usually start growing decently fast, some can even flower in that time, unlike other CP’s like Sarracenia, Dionaea, etc. that take years to grow out to a decent size from seed. In this regard, I’d probably recommend D. capensis as anyone’s first CP to try if you have a half way sunny windowsill that you can keep near room temp - seed for it is easy to obtain, it is rather kind of weedy in cultivation and the plant is probably the most bulletproof sundew as long as it doesn’t freeze

While we’re on the topic of carnivorous plants, if anyone here is really interested in CP’s and hasn’t heard of it yet, please check out the International Carnivorous Plant Society and maybe consider a membership, even - their scholarly periodical journal has some seriously amazing photography and journalism of rare and exotic CP’s, they fund/do CP conservation and research (I won’t get into how little remaining intact wetlands there are left in the US), are the cultivar registrar for CP’s, they have a member seedbank, etc…Especially useful are their grow guides and species descriptions


I have a bunch of the hardy ones (can’t remember the variety) popping up in my pitcher plant pots and around my fly traps. They self seed like crazy. I also have a adelae inside. Besides being fun to grow, they are awesome at catching fungus gnats if you keep them next to your pepper and tomato seedling starts inside.


Here is my little bog - although mine still has the plants in separate pots. Everything is going dormant now, so not a lot to see. It is basically time to cut back the pitchers on all but the Sarracenia purpurea that seem to keep theirs over the winter. I keep it in a low container with holes about halfway up the side so the water never gets too high when it rains. I usually have to add some rainwater from my rain barrel a few times a season during dry spells, but it mostly catches enough rain to just ignore. I pulled it out for pictures, but just slide it in among my other plants in the garden. Some day I’ll probably plant the whole container, add some gravel at the bottom for drainage and then bury it as a permanent fixture.

Flytraps shutting down and dropping bigger traps on the outside.

Here is one of the drain holes with a Sarracenia purpurea peeking over the top.

Three of my Sarracenias (1 S. flava and 2 S. leucophylla) bloomed in the spring and I let the flowers dry out.

I now have 3 seed pods, but no idea how to start these from seed. Any tips?


Actually I just remembered I did a short video on them when they were just waking up this past spring. I keep them in my garage to give them a little protection since they are still in pots, but if an in-ground bog they would be fine throughout the winter. Unfortunately I never did an update when they were in full swing like I meant to.


You can open up the dried husk/pod and out will dump a bunch of tan little seeds that need stratified - if you plan on just growing them in a community pot etc you could surface sow them and wish them luck in a pot/bog garden outside, but if you want to get really good germination % and nurse the seedlings along well, my favorite method is to mix them in slightly damp peat inside a little baggie and then put the baggie in the fridge for a few months, 32-40f should work. After stratifying, then I surface sow the seed in a pot or tray w/ individual cells and maybe sprinkle just a tiny amount of damp peat to cover the seeds so they won’t mold as easily. You can also use sphagnum moss or even better, live sphagnum moss, but similarly to peat definitely don’t let it dry out because the tiny Sarracenia seedling has a shallow root system initially and is easy to kill from drying out. I usually start them inside in the same conditions that my subtropical sundews enjoy until the seedlings are a few inches tall, maybe in about a year or so (and then plant them out, they should be winter hardy by this point). Sarracenia are painfully slow growing but there is huge variation among seedlings of some spp., they really do catch a lot of stinging/pest insects, and they’re pretty easy to care for. I really enjoy the flowers as well.


Thanks for the notes on germinating. I think I’ll sow them in community pots (one for each species) and put the pots in the fridge for a few months then bring them out under the lights. If they are so tiny and slow-growing I don’t think I’m up for babying along a lot of separate pots. Hopefully, they’ll separate out okay when they’re a year or so old.

I separated out the seeds and the S. flava are tan little seeds like you said, but the S. leucophylla seem tiny, smaller than poppy seeds and basically almost like dust. Does that seem likely or do you think there was just a pollination issue and leucophylla seed isn’t viable?


I was noticing 2 of the 3 pods in your previous picture weren’t swollen up like fully pollenated sarracenia seed pods usually are, I would guess it wasn’t fully pollenated or it’s from a young plant - fully formed seed should be tan/brownish and the size of the seed in the baggie to the left looks good :+1:

the seed in the baggie to the right looks like malformed or aborted seed pips. Did the seed in the baggie on the left come from the biggest, swollen pod?

Good luck on starting your seeds, it’s really exciting to grow these species. Kind of like stationary pets, almost, with the feeding etc…

Here’s the page from the Savage Garden about Sarracenia seed propagation.


Thanks for posting this, one of my favorite books, period - Peter D’amato is one of the de facto CP cultivation experts and runs California Carnivores, a bit expensive but very high quality plants. I think he just revised and re-released a newer edition not too long ago

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Yeah, this is the new edition. I got a couple sarracenia seedlings (Deep Throat x Adrian Slack) last week that should be interesting in a couple years!

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