This Week's Podcast: A Replay: Another Take on Growing Edibles: Peter D'Amato
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Peter D’Amato has been growing carnivorous plants for nearly forty years and his nursery, California Carnivores, is home to the world’s largest collection of plants that lure, catch and digest animals – mostly insects – but others. One species has been known to digest a rat.
Carnivorous plants grow in places with nutrient-poor soils and have evolved to catch and digest insects for nourishment. The snapping jaws of the Venus flytrap first come to mind. But most carnivorous plants are passive assassins that do not close around their prey.
The sundew, left, attracts and traps with sticky gel. The tropical Nepenthe (below, right) have small to large hanging pitchers (depending on the species). The opening to the trap is colorful and attractive to insects, but it is so slick that the victims fall into a liquid produced by the plant. The hood keeps rainwater from diluting the liquid.
I have succeeded with the butterworts (Pinguicula species) indoors, and the Sarracenia species and hybrids outdoors in containers – once I started using rainwater instead of my mineral-packed well water.
Sarracenia is the most familiar genus to North Americans. I grow them in a twin-walled plastic pot (below, left) with a few small holes drilled in the bottom in a mixture of 80% peat moss and 20% perlite. (That’s the only use I find for peat moss in the garden.)
Growing weird and unusual plants appeals to many of us, but these species and hybrids are often also beautiful with stunning leaves and frequently, elaborate flowers.
For fifteen years, Peter’s book, The Savage Garden, has been the number one resource for growing these plants. Now, there is a new fully revised edition including the latest developments and discoveries in the carnivorous plant world.
The Savage Garden is illustrated with more than 200 color photos and includes: All the basics -- from watering and feeding to modern advances in artificial lighting, soil, and fertilizers; Cultivation and propagation information for pitcher plants, Venus flytraps, sundews, bladderworts, and many others.
Whether you are interested in trying your hand at growing “flesh-eating” plants, or an experienced enthusiast looking to learn about the latest plants and cultural advice, this classic book has everything you need to grow your very own little garden of horrors.
(Photo credits: Sundew [Drosera regia]; Jonathan Chester/Extreme Images, Inc.; giant Nepenthes refflesiana: Sharon Bergeron. Reprinted with permission from The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Peter D’Amato, Ten Speed Press, © 2013.)