Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
Even in the plant world, savages can be tamed
I used to live with a vegetarian. She’d not eaten meat since she was a young girl. Then one day, after we’d been living together for about three years, I went away for a weekend. When I came back, I asked what was new. “Sally’s not a vegetarian anymore,” said our other flatmate. “Oh really?” I said, somewhat surprised. “Yeah. She just went out and bought a chicken, roasted it, and ate the whole thing.”
I just about fell on the floor. But since then, many more of my ex-vegetarian friends have joined her. There’s Leena, who broke her lifelong vegetarianism by buying a Wimpys burger at the bowling alley (what a way to start) - or Sheena, who decided that after 10 years of not eating meat, she missed filet steak too much – so she bought one (better).
But there are a lot of reasons to be vegetarian – whether it’s due to issues around animal treatment, too many farting cows (it’s a serious climate change issue) or simply because you don’t like meat. And there are probably more people who choose to become vegetarian than there are those who drop off the wagon. But what should you do if you become a vegetarian and you own a carnivorous plant?
Well, the good news is that there’s no need for you and your plant to fall out. It turns out that you can turn carnivorous plants into vegetarians. But how? Well there are two methods:
- Put them in a bug-free zone. Carnivorous plants can actually live quite a long time without eating insects, although they are a key source of nutrients.
- Pollute more (failing that, gently fertilise with nitrogen-rich fertiliser). Researchers at Loughborough University found that in heavily polluted areas, carnivorous plants got less of the nitrogen they require from insects, as they got enough nitrogen deposits in the bog from polluted rain.
Other top tips for keeping a carnivorous plant:
- Keep them moist. Water from below throughout the growing season, ideally with rainwater as many tap waters are too alkaline. Hardier carnivorous plants will thrive in a bog garden.
- Plant them in peat – ready-made composts aren’t suitable.