Charles Darwin may have gone a bit overboard in his praise but there is something deeply fascinating about a Venus flytrap, unless of course you are an insect. Dionaea muscipula, to give it is botanical name, lures flies and spiders on to its leaves and a complex system of tiny hairs springs its trap shut. The poor creature is then slowly digested. Apparently the Venus flytrap is a bit fussy and will only start the digesting process if there have been half a dozen triggers of the trap mechanism. After all, it doesn’t want to waste energy.
I share Darwin’s enthusiasm and have long thought that a flytrap might be fun to have. If it does its job properly then there should be a marked reduction in the number of insects that seem to delight in flying around the inner chambers of Blogger Towers. So during a recent trip to the local Garden Centre I couldn’t resist the siren call that was a lurid blue card inviting me, courtesy of Fun Seeds, to grow my own Venus Flytrap. It was clearly aimed at children — although not the under-fives because of small parts — but now that I have reached grandfather status, albeit vicariously, I think I can indulge myself from time to time in reverting to my former childlike state.
The card contained a small red pot, a desiccated piece of Sphagnum moss, a packet of infinitesimally small black seeds, and some rudimentary instructions. The starting point was to dunk the moss into water but not any old water would do. It had to be rain water or, failing that, distilled or filtered. Fortunately, we have buckets of rain water assiduously collected during the not infrequent downpours we have experienced over the winter. As soon as the moss tablet hit the water, it began to swell and break up. After a while I scooped up the moss, squeezed it to remove most of the surplus water and put it into the red plastic pot.
The next stage of the operation was to sprinkle the seeds on to the moss. The instructions were very clear — they weren’t to be buried but had to rest in the moss. It suggested the use of a spoon to achieve the desired results although I found the seeds just stuck to the spoon. My fingers seemed to do the trick.
The pot was then placed on a saucer which contained a small amount of water — rain water (natch) — to keep the moss moist. Then I placed a plastic bag over the pot and placed it on the windowsill of my study.
Frustratingly, it will take the seeds up to 12 weeks to germinate and three years for a fully developed flytrap to grow so I will have to exercise a modicum of patience and .
I will keep you posted on progress.