Herself's Houseplants

Conservation through cultivation

Archive for the ‘Terrariums and Dish Gardens’ Category

Newly unflasked Paph Fairrienum

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I’ve been so happy with the progress from the previous two flasks I thought I’d try another one. This one also came from eBay. These are crosses of Paph. fairrienums they should look like the photo but with slight variations. A large pot of these in bloom should be gorgeous. Estimated time to bloom is two years.

The flask contained about 25 seedlings.

It was an open mouthed flask so it only took a little coaxing to remove them.
I placed the whole group in a shallow container of water with fertilizer.
Because the agar was brown and the seedlings a bit yellowed I added a capful of hydrogen peroxide to the water.
After about 10 minutes the agar softened enough to break out the plants and sort them on to a clean towel.
A bit of rinsing of each plant under the faucet helped removed the remaining agar from the roots.
I dipped each seedling in rooting hormone, then placed it in the terrarium.
The terrarium has a couple of inches of sphagnum moss soaked in fertilized water.
Lastly they get placed in a bright window.
Now we wait. In the meantime, it should make an interesting terrarium to watch.
I’ll slowly leave the cover off the terrarium and let them adapt to the house humidity.
I’ll check each day to be sure the moss is damp but there is no fungus or mold.
When the container gets too crowded I’l moved them to community pots.

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

September 13th, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Ghost Orchid Flasks (Dendrophylax lindenii)

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Ghost orchid 8/29/14

Ghost orchid 8/29/14

Ghost Orchid

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8/13/14
I decided it was time to try something more challenging. So I ordered a couple of flasks of Ghost Orchids ( Dendrophylax lindeii ) on eBay.

The flasks arrived in a few days, everything looks wonderful.

I did have to break the flasks to remove the plants, not a big deal, wrap the flask in a towel and use a hammer.

After removing the orchids, I dropped them into a container of water with fertilizer and rooting hormone while I gently untangled them and removed the agar.

So far so good.

They are currently dispersed across 4 terrariums, worm castings on the bottom, sphagnum moss, then mulch, orchids are resting on the mulch.

For now I’ll keep the light levels low. The largest trick is to keep the humidity close to 100% and keep mold and fungus from killing the seedlings.

I use a light dose of fertilizer with rooting hormone to water my orchids, these included.



8/18/14
I’ve lost two of the ghost orchids to fungus, I’ve dispersed a few that didn’t look good into the carnivorous terrariums.

About a half dozen have grown their baby leaves, these two leaves are temporary and will fall off once the plants get settled.

Deflasked ghost orchid about a week after deflasking

Deflasked ghost orchid about a week after deflasking



Sept 12, 14
I admit to slaughtering most of the ghost orchids, of the half dozen to a dozen remaining most are showing new growth. They are in a large southwest facing window, in a not tightly sealed terrarium and I’m spraying them with water in the morning and evening.

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

September 12th, 2014 at 5:00 am

Venus Flytraps ( Droseraceae Dionaea muscipula )

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Dionaea muscipula

Dionaea muscipula

Of all the carnivorous plants I grow these are some of the more challenging. For easy carnivorous plants, try a pitcher plant.

Flytraps do very well in terrariums. Any clear covered glass container will work. Fill the bottom with soil that does not have any fertilizer and sphagnum peat moss. A 50/50 combination of sand/peat works well. Soak the soil and wring it out. It should be damp not soaking. Place your flytraps in there, put the cover on, put it in a very sunny window and forget about it. They will thrive. Another option is to grow them in just sphagnum moss. I’ve had that work very well for me also.

The only other way I have been successful with flytraps is to put them in a clay pot with a soil and peat moss mixture. Put the clay pot in a dish with about an 1″ of water. Water from the bottom, just top off the water every morning.

Fly traps grow slowly. You’ll need to be patient. When they are happy and large enough they will give you really cool flowers in the late spring. They rarely get beyond 8″ in height, most will max out at 5″. The flowers are white and will grow on long stems far above the height of the leaves.

A drafty window is best. Flytraps usually hibernate over the winter. I’ve found the the temperature change near the window is enough to send them into dormancy and wake them each spring. During the winter, keep the flytraps a bit drier. Many sites declare you need to stick them in the refrigerator for a few months. I’ve found keeping them near a drafty window works for me.

I’ve found the most important thing for success is high humidity, it is more important than the amount of sun ( which should be as high as you can get)

Deadhead the old traps to encourage new growth. If a trap turns black, remove that leaf.

Do not feed your plants fertilized water. They will turn black and will die. Instead, if you must, obtain some dried blood worms from your favorite pet store. Soak them in water, mash them up and feed them to the flytraps with a toothpick. Smear the mashed blood worms in the trap, then using the toothpick trigger the hairs that tell the trap to close.

You can use tap water except if your water is soft, if you live in a hard water area, then use rain water or distilled.

They hate to be transplanted. (them and every other plant you ever read about) Since there is no danger of over watering them go ahead and put them in a decent sized pot to start with.

There are usually three trigger hairs on each side of the trap, sometimes more. You will have to look closely and catch the light just right to see them. There are also digestive glands on the traps inner surface which release enzymes to dissolve the bugs and to take up the nutrients. These are the red area of the trap. In the outer green edges of the trap are glands that release nectar to attract insects. This part of the trap reflects ultraviolet light that most insects can see.

The trap closes when two or more of the trigger hairs is bent over by an insect in less than a half minute or so. At the base of each trigger hair is a cell that allows the trigger to bend over, it acts like a spring. The upper part of the trigger hair is stiff and unbendable.

The trap rapidly closes when triggered, but leaves small air gaps. Smaller insects escape through these gaps. If a larger insect is inside and it can not escape through the gaps, the trap slowly closes the rest of the way. This is triggered by continuing movement of the trigger hairs or if the prey insect urinates or defecates.

The fully closed trap fills with acidic liquid released by digestive glands. Digestion takes time depending on the size of the insect. Digestion could take as long as a month. The trap reopens once all nutrients have been absorbed. The exoskeleton of the insect remains, waiting to be blown off by wind or washed off by rain. During this time the trap will not re-trigger.

These plants are native to bogs in North and South Carolina which is the only place they are known to grow in the wild. Temperatures there range from ~20’F to 100’F. I tried some outdoors but they couldn’t handle the summers of Houston or the winters of Boston.

Do not buy wild plants. They are endangered. Buy from reputable dealers. A lack of fires to clean out surrounding vegetation, and increased fertilizer runoff has damaged most of the remaining habitats of these plants.

These plants were a favorite of Charles Darwin who considered them to be one of the most wonderful plants in the world. Carl Linnaeus spoke of them as a miracle of nature. John Ellis was the first to describe the flytrap during his travels to the new world. Upon his arrival home there were lines of people waiting to obtain this plant, much like the iPhone lines of recent.

Aphids, mealy bugs, scale and thrips can all be a problem for fly traps. Orthene or some other systematic insecticide is best. Follow the directions on the label. Do not use soap based insecticides.

Black spot and other fungus can also be trouble. Captan is the favorite fungicide right now. You should be able to find it at any plant supply store.


They are difficult and slow to grow by seed, division is a better way to propagate them. Take an outer leaf and gently pull down, you want to get as much of the white area at the bottom of the leaf as you can, that’s where it’ll root. Place the leaf in a terrarium, morning sun, moss, lots of distilled water and you’ll see roots in about a week. You want enough water to keep the terrarium walls clouded up but no water sitting at the bottom. You can purchase liquid rooting hormone, there isn’t any in this batch, I’ll try some with my next batch.



I’ve just started growing flytraps from seed. 80% of my first batch just germinated. What I’ve learned so far is they need lots of light. Mine are in an unshaded southwest window in clear glass containers. Use a small container it’s going to take a long time for them to get large. I put about 2″ of peat moss on the bottom, soaked it, drained off the excess water and dropped the seeds on top. Close the lid and park them in the window. The first batch took 3 weeks to begin germinating, the second 2 weeks. I open the container top if it starts to smell musty. A spray of distilled water seems to kill and fungus that’s shown up so far.



See also:
FlyTrapCare Blog
Feeding your carnivores dried blood worms

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

September 11th, 2014 at 5:00 am