December Ice Storms Bring January Surprises

Roridula gorgonias

If any real good came out of last month’s Icepocalypse and January’s rollercoaster weather, it came in the demonstration of seed germination difficulties. Several years back, I attempted to get results with seeds from the famed semi-carnivorous plant genus Roridula, both species dentata and gorgonias, and ran full-tilt into the challenges of Texas weather. Specifically, I finally got one batch to start sprouting around the end of summer, right when I was about ready to give up and toss the pots. They were doing beautifully until we had a panic about impending cold weather, and I brought them inside. That’s when I learned one of the big secrets to Roridula husbandry: they have no tolerance of stagnant air conditions as seedlings, and they all perished of fungus infections within two days.

This time, the issues were even worse. I replicated the conditions for the previous success, but the seeds simply refused to come up all year long. I figured “Well, it can’t hurt to leave them in their pot and see if they emerge in spring.” Do they? Nope: the little monsters are precocious. Instead, right after getting a second Arctic blast right after New Year’s Day, I came out to the greenhouse to assess any potential damage and discovered these little guys popping up all over the place. I can’t make any promises as to having Roridula available to the general public by summer, but it’s more encouraging than before.

Stylidium graminofolium

Roridula isn’t the only semi-carnivorous plant that seems to need fluctuating warmth and cold for best germination results. Having lost my last Stylidium graminofolium plants in the Heatwave of 2011, I missed that distinctive grasslike triggerplant, and started fresh with new seeds. Guess what decided to greet me last weekend? When lecturing on carnivorous plants, I regularly point out that many carnivores thrive on benign neglect. One of these days, I need to pay attention to my own advice.

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