What Is A Carnivorous Plant And How Do They Work?
Carnivorous plants that “digest” insects for their nutrients – particularly nitrogen – include many species, such as pitcher plants, bladderworts, Venus flytraps and sundews.
Carnivorous plants are predatory flowering plants that hunt animals in order to extract nutrition from their bodies. Carnivorous plants share three key attributes which make them distinct from other types of plants: predatory nature, flowering form and three specific features that work in unison to identify these special flowering species.
Carnivorous plants receive significant nutritive benefit from digesting their prey; specifically insects, spiders, crustaceans and protozoa residing both within soil and water bodies and predatory fish as well as small vertebrate animals such as lizards mice rats etc. Carnivorous plants achieve this feat using leaves designed as traps that draw prey closer. Many lure it in using bright colors, extra-floral nectarines, guide hairs or leaf extensions. Once caught and killed, prey is digested by partner organisms or consumed directly by the plant to extract nutrients derived from corpses absorbed by its leaves; most carnivorous plants still manage to grow without eating prey at all; however they experience much faster and improved reproduction when fed on nutrients from prey corpses provided by prey itself. Most carnivorous plants can still grow without eating prey at all – however carnivorous species tend to do much faster when fed on nutrients from prey sources than otherwise!
Dionaea muscipula is widely considered to be the world’s most well-known carnivorous plant.
No one would refer to these plants as insectivorous plants because no true carnivore would scrutinize a potential prey item to verify if it’s an insect. Though certain carnivorous plants specialize in hunting insects, most will consume whatever they can.
Not all plants that trap and kill animals can be classified as carnivorous; certain Aroid and Aristolochia species use their flowers as traps to attract pollinators insects for pollination, without harming or killing any. Even if some die while trapped within them, such is no loss to the plant as long as their flowers don’t act as traps – Carnivorous plants never use their flowers as traps!
Nature being what it is, it can sometimes be difficult for us to know whether a plant is truly carnivorous or simply has some features of one. Until recently, it was thought that three species of Devil’s Claw from Martyniaceae family are carnivorous. Ibicella lutea, Proboscidea louisianica, and P. parviflora are large plants which often capture insects such as small flies. Though once considered carnivorous plants, these three now fall under non-carnivorous category due to not deriving much if any nutrition from their prey; rather they likely use sticky leaves as predator defense mechanisms. There are also other plants with some characteristics of carnivorous ones, making it harder to define them as true carnivores. When these non-plant killing plants kill non-vegetarian victims but do not derive significant nutrition from them, they are known as murderous plants and should be considered murderers.
Roridula has generated much discussion as to what constitutes carnivory in plants. Roridula relies heavily on assassin bugs for digestion of prey; once captured by Roridula leaves, prey are captured by assassin bugs which then feast upon it until defecation on Roridula leaves occurs and absorb the nutrients present therein. When assassin bugs are absent there may still be another option in place that captures prey; bacteria in its gut and on prey can digest dead prey very efficiently while Roridula leaves will also absorb released nutrients quite efficiently from this method of digestion.
Darlingtonia and some Nepenthes species have lost the ability to digest prey themselves, instead relying on bacteria or other organisms to make its nutrients available to themselves. Simply put, why should plants waste energy on digestion when other organisms can take care of it for them? Or scientifically speaking: without selective advantage to do it themselves, mutations will accumulate eliminating this process altogether – meaning our definition of carnivory includes these plants while leaving out strictly murderous ones.
When plants or their stories are sufficiently strange and their closest relatives are definitive carnivores, we may bend our definition of carnivorousness to include them. No one has ever suggested that toilet bowl Nepenthes species do not fall within this classification – after all they use traps to attract animals while collecting their excrement while feeding on nectar from within or snail eggs laid on top of its lid – carnivorous plant enthusiasts love these specimens regardless of definitional differences!
Before establishing a carnivorous garden, it is crucial that you understand how they grow. Carnivorous plants require growing media with an acidic pH value below 5; any commercial potting mix or medium that contains fertilisers would therefore not work.
Most carnivorous plants are bog plants. Sphagnum moss is ideal, although difficult to come by. Peat moss may also work; just ensure it has not been treated before being packaged, otherwise its pH level will become too high and cause issues with pH levels in plants. You can mix either growing media with perlite or horticultural sand for added effectiveness.
Venus flytraps (Dionaea) and most varieties of pitcher plants (Sarracenia) can be successfully grown indoors; however, some tropical varieties require direct sunlight for optimal growth, making outdoor cultivation preferable – see below. If growing sunlight-loving varieties indoors you will require lighting which produces ultraviolet wavelengths – these so-called ‘growing light bulbs’ are available from hydroponic suppliers.
Carnivorous plants generally do very well utilizing nutrients derived from insects trapped by their traps; however, if there’s not enough insect life around for your carnivorous plant to flourish properly then periodic feeding with half-strength Powerfeed could help them thrive more.
Pitcher plants make an ideal indoor addition for those interested in carnivorous plants.
Make Your Indoor Garden In a Glass Terrarium
Terrariums provide plants with controlled humidity and moisture levels; creating their own microclimate. A fish tank works great as long as you place a slatted base at the bottom to allow water to remain beneath plant roots and be drawn up via capillary action rather than sitting stagnant in one area; making terrariums can even be made using strips of timber or plastic!
Keep your plants in their pots and place them inside a terrarium so that their bottoms rest on water, with plants floating above. You can then conceal the pots by filling the interior of your terrarium with sphagnum moss or peat for an added layer of concealment.
Carnivorous plants don’t like being overpotted. When repotting, always opt for the smaller pot and ensure the roots don’t touch the ground directly – traps and pitchers should not come within touching distance of touching down on the soil surface.
Sun dew is an outdoor carnivorous delight. To find some, visit Our Website >>.
GROWING CARNIVOREOUS PLANTS OUTDOORS
In frost-free climates, creating a peat garden outside is simple. Simply dig out an area to your desired dimensions and line it with plastic to form a hole; fill this hole with mounds of peat moss at its edges as well as creating a mini swamp which your plants will relish!
Most carnivorous plants thrive when exposed to sunlight. Sun dews (Droseras), flytraps, pitcher plants and bladderworts will flourish when planted around the boggy edges of your peat swamp while its water reservoir will keep conditions moist.
Be wary if planting tropical nepenthes with stunning hanging pitchers as these could not withstand a cold winter.
Tip On Keeping Them Alive
As tempting as it may be, do not manually trigger traps! Each trap only has limited capacity, and triggering it without nutritional benefits can drain energy away from your plant’s energy reserves. Instead, wait to see it happen naturally when insects land!