Besides your regular Halloween decorations, include a ghoulish plant to add a little haunt to your house this season. In this column we will dig up some carnivorous and other ghastly plants. Read on …
Besides your regular Halloween decorations, include a ghoulish plant to add a little haunt to your house this season. In this column we will dig up some carnivorous and other ghastly plants. Read on … if you dare.
Within the animal kingdom, herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat mostly herbivores, and omnivores eat both. Most plants eat nothing. They have a process called photosynthesis to convert water and carbon dioxide into a sugar that helps them grow. In addition, plants absorb nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) from the soil. When plants grow in a nutrient deficient soil, they adapt by becoming carnivores and eat insects, frogs, and even mice.
The most common carnivorous plant is the Venus flytrap. This plant attracts tiny insects in its hair-like structure with a sweet-smelling nectar. When the hairs are disturbed, they quickly snap close to trap and consume its prey.
The Venus flytrap is native to North and South Carolina. To be successful in growing it, try to mimic its native conditions. Plant it in a well-draining grow medium containing soil and peat moss. Place it in a warm spot with bright indirect sunlight and keep it moist using distilled water.
Another carnivorous plant is the pitcher plant. I consider this eloquent looking plant as the roach motel because its guest checks in and never checks out.
It lures insects in with an intoxicating nectar. Once inside, the insect will tumble down the slippery tube. There are downward-pointed hairs within the pitcher that prevent the insect from crawling out. When the insect reaches the bottom, the plant secretes digestive acids and enzymes that slowly dissolve the insect’s body.
The pitcher plant feeds on ants, flies, wasps, bees, beetles, slugs and snails. It is native to swamp lands. To grow, plant it in a well-draining mossy medium. Keep it moist and place it in a sunny place. It needs 10 hours of sun, and the pitchers should always have some water in them.
The stick plant is not a carnivorous plant, however, its stalks of the nearly leafless cattails look like skeletal bones. This deadly plant also has sap that can be very irritating and can even cause blindness if you get it in your eyes. To grow this, you want to place it in a sunny, warm south facing windowsill and water it every two weeks. It is better to let it dry out than over-water it because the roots can rot easily.
The next plant is the red twig of a dogwood shrub. It is dormant this time of year and its variant red branches are perfect for an outdoor decoration and an indoor center piece. We can grow the arctic fire red twig dogwood in partial or full sun. It has a USDA hardiness zone 4 and thrives in fertile, moist soil.
These are just a few ghoulish plants that can be part of your Halloween décor. Nature is full of creepy looking and meat-eating plants.
On a personal note, I would like to dedicate this column to my mom. My passion for plants is because of her. She also loved decorating for all holidays, including Halloween. She was and always will be an amazing mother who always had a smile to share with everyone in her life.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Katherine Clarkson of Wapiti is the president of the Park County Master Gardeners.)