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Starting Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ seeds

Starting Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ seeds

I received some bamboo seeds from fredgpops (another bamboo enthusiast from Bambooweb) last October and less than a week later, one of them sprouted. The seedling I got, was an offspring of Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ bamboo. Sadly none of the regular nigra or Chusquea gigantea had germinated, I hope I can try again next year.

Young Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ seedling

Sole survivor

The seeds I received were mostly empty, underdeveloped or damaged. I think that hungry birds already took care of them, before the seeds were collected. I expected at least some germination from the remaining seeds, but they eventually started rotting and perished. Some of the damage and poor germination could be the result of slow transport from The US to Slovenia.
One of the seeds, however, sprouted very fast and started growing vigorously from the early beginning. It doesn’t have any leaf coloration or other apparent characteristics that would make it look special.

3 months old seedling

Problem with mites

When the seedling was a couple of months old, I made a mistake and brought in some mite infected cuttings. Since the plants are somewhat congested under the grow lights, mites started colonizing the area. In only a couple of weeks, they were everywhere. The most hit were my Hibiscus rosa-sinensis seedlings which dropped leaves completely. The infected Nerium oleander cuttings got badly damaged as well. I sprayed the whole area and nearly killed my carnivorous plant collection in the process, but it seems that mites perished in the process.

Slow growth after a couple of shoots

After the mite infection, the seedling stopped shooting every couple of weeks and remained at 4 shoots it had before. As the seedling stopped shooting, I thought that mites caused it to suffer. As I noticed later, it wasn’t even slowing down – not at all. Most if not all Phyllostachys I’ve grown so far, and I’ve grown many, managed to put out numerous shoots at their juvenile stage, before they eventually started running and ceased to produce shoots. At that point, when the seedlings started running, they only produced whip shoots from the exposed rhizomes. They just wait for the spring to arrive to start their regular shooting cycle.

Runners!

As I poked around the pot when I watered the seedling, roughly 3 months after germination, I noticed the first runner escaping far away from the initial clump on the edge of the pot. Since bamboo seedlings usually starts running at least a year after sowing, it came as a surprise – yet, I’ve seen the same thing happen with my Phyllostachys arcana seedlings before. As it seems, grow lights I use make a great difference and can really speed-up seedling’s development. Around a month later, less than 4 months old juvenile already colonized the pot with rhizomes and started to deform its plastic nursery pot.

Multiple runners trying to escape the pot

Another bamboo in my collection

From the point when bamboo starts actively running, its growth usually gets exponential. Bamboo effectively uses all the resources it can lay its roots on and if it feels comfortable enough in the given climate, starts rapid development towards the mature stage. If I find proper location with enough space and nutrients, I’m sure I can expect first 1cm+ diameter culms in less than 2 years. From that point everything goes even faster.

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How not to get scammed when buying seeds online

How not to get scammed when buying seeds online

Buying seeds online

Why I even bother buying seeds online? The main reason is, there are not so many exotic seeds to be found in shops around here. Prices can be much, much lower online and there’s always a chance you find something rare you’d like to start growing. I have bought quite a lot of seeds and I usually got what I ordered. When I tried buying carnivore plant’s seeds online using both Aliexpress and eBay, I almost got scammed. I received seeds of some local weeds from China instead of Venus Flytrap (Dionaea) and Pitcher plants (Nepenthes). Luckily I was able to make a complaint and they resolved in my favor. If I would not know how the real seeds look like, I would be growing weeds for a while, before even noticing. Usually scammers have good rating and you can’t always see negative feedback that would raise an alarm.

Things to avoid

1. If plants look too good to be true, they are usually fake. Avoid at all costs!
2. Rare, hard to get seeds are almost never cheap – even online! Keep away from extremely cheap seeds, they are either fake or way too old to sprout.
3. Large amount of seeds is often an indicator that something isn’t right. Bulk amounts of cheap seeds usually means you’ll get weed seeds.
4. Seeds of sterile plants (hybrids) or plants that can’t be (easily) propagated using seeds (Orchids for example)
5. Sellers that has seeds from any of the above in their shop. Usually the most obvious seeds are not the only seeds that are fake. Try to ignore these sellers.

What you can do before the purchase

Research! Make sure you know how the seeds look like, so you can be sure you got the right seeds when you get them.
Ask seller about the seeds origin or ask if you suspect something is wrong. If the seller ignores your question – avoid.
Think two times before you click ‘Buy’. Checking more than one seller usually helps and you easily see sellers that stand out with strangely low price and obviously fake plants.
Read other buyer’s reviews. Sometimes it’s pain in the rear, because there are usually tons of good reviews of buyers that were ecstatic when they got the seeds.

If you do get scammed …

You’ve been ripped off, now what? If you are sure you received fake seeds, complain to the seller and start the complaint process in the online store. I have been cheated that way several times and usually got the money back, because the seeds were obviously fake.
Try to write an item review and warn other potential buyers about the issue.

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Growing Dionaea From Seeds

Growing Dionaea From Seeds

Buying Cheap Dionaea Seeds

First sprouts emerging!
First sprouts emerging!

I tried my luck by buying Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) seeds on eBay. As I’ve already found out, it’s not really the best idea to buy carnivorous plant seeds from eBay or Aliexpress. It’s almost impossible to receive the seeds you would like. I’ve learned my lession when I bought Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili seeds. I received some seriously interesting hybrids and a nice collection of yellow, red and orange habaneros. Despite my better judgement, I decided to try getting Dionaea muscipula seeds from 3 different sellers. I have bought Dionaea ‘Dark Red’ (10 seeds) and a bag of mixed random seeds (15 seeds) that might be crosses of who knows what from German seller.

The seeds arrived quickly and I planted them on January 3rd. In a bit more than two weeks, first seeds started sprouting. In the pot with red form, the first sprouts actually arrived with a red tint. The sprouts of VFT seedlings from the Dionaea mix seed pack on the other hand all appeared green. Perhaps the seller was truthful after all!

Slightly red sprout of Dionaea muscipula
Slightly red sprout of Dionaea muscipula

Germination occurred in less than 3 weeks
Germination occurred in less than 3 weeks

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I also bought two packages from different Chinese vendors. 10 Dionaea Muscipula Giant Clip seeds from eBay and gigantic pack of 100 Red Dragon Flytrap seeds from Aliexpress. The first package did not arrive after more than a month and the seller kindly offered to send me another package. The large pack of seeds from Aliexpress arrived quickly and I have instantly noticed that the seeds looked different – I’ve been scamed. I opened a dispute and got my 40 cents back. ūüôā I might try to grow the fake seeds and write about what the seller actually sent.

The seedlings

2 weeks old Dionaea seedling
2 weeks old Dionaea seedling

The seedlings grew faster than I had expected. I was a bit worried they would not do well in pure peat, but they accepted it quite well.
I have decided to remove the plastic cover as soon as I’ve seen that most of the¬†seeds have sprouted. Mold was already starting to grow as there were white threads growing all over the wet peat. Uncovering did not harm the seedlings. I was doing my best to keep the air moisture as high as possible. Air humidity was between 40% to 60% during most of the time.

Red trap colour was evident from the beginning
Red trap colour was evident from the beginning

Seeds from Dark red cultivar were showing sings of red coloration from the early start. Cotyledons seem to be a bit darker green, but as soon as the first carnivorous leaves appeared, the red color was evident. Strangely, the pot with mixed seeds should also have red variety, yet none of the 15 seedlings turned out to be red. Most of the seedlings pushed out one true leaf at once, but there were a few that managed to start with two. There was some diversity among the seedlings. Some had thick and others narrow cotyledons, there was one, with only one, conjoined cotyledon, some were more glossy and some had rough edges.

Young seedlings grow quite fast
Young seedlings grow quite fast

As the young seedlings grow and mature, it will be fun to see if any of them starts showing some kind of unique characteristic that would make it different from other Venus Flytraps. Seller took the seeds from cross-pollinated  plants, grown outside in the open, which means the resulting seedlings can be interesting. I hope to get some interesting and hardy Flytraps from these seeds.
I’m definitely going to grow more¬†Dionaea seeds in the future, but before that, I want to go step further by growing Nepenthes seeds. I am trying my luck again by purchasing the seeds online. Wish me luck, I will need it! ūüėČ

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Carnivorous forest

Carnivorous forest

Anyone who owned Drosera capensis knows how much seeds they can produce. In autumn, all my plants went into full bloom and managed to produce large amounts of seeds. As winter came, I decided to sow the seeds into an empty ice cream container and check for germination. I expected a lot of small plants, a mixture of regular Drosera capensis and Drosera capensis ‘Alba’.

Germination of fresh seedlings

First drosera seedlings appeared
First drosera seedlings appeared

I’ve kept the ice cream container outside during the rainy autumn, filled with cheap peat moss. I hoped for the peat to get thoroughly washed for the new seedlings to grow. When I bought my first Drosera seeds, I needed to wait around a month, before the first tiny seedlings emerged. I expected the same thing with my seeds. How wrong I was!
I used the seeds that somehow ended up on my desk where I kept the flower stalks I’ve cut off during after the flowering. Most of the flowers were completely ripe and the seeds just loved to ‘jump’ out of the seed pods. That is one of the reasons why D. capensis easily seeds into surrounding pots when you leave flower stalks to ripen.

Sundew volunteers after flowering
Sundew volunteers after flowering

I’ve been growing my Droseras outside during the summer, both regular D. capensis and Alba variety in the same spot. The seeds I used were from both, white and pink flowering carnivore plants.
As I mentioned before, I expected the seeds to germinate really slowly. I was extremely surprised when I saw first tiny green plantlets emerging in less than a week. After a couple of weeks, there was a whole forest of small seedlings, baking under my grow light.

The carnivorous forest

Numerous seedlings ready to hunt
Numerous seedlings ready to hunt

I’ve sown Cape Sundew seeds tightly together in the past already and never managed to separate them. At first they didn’t look too happy and needed to fight for their position in the pot. After a while, weak plants died off and the strong Sundews remained healthy. In the end, the pot got completely covered with healthy sticky leaves and the plants set numerous flower stalks. I actually liked the crowded pot much better than my large but lonely growing plants. There is another thing I loved about that pot – these tightly grown carnivores were hungry! When I placed the pot near to the source of light during the night, or close to the pond during the drought, they caught all kinds of flies, mosquitoes and other flying, bloodsucking vermin. I intend to do the same thing this year, but on a much larger scale.

Taking care of the seedlings

Same as before, I placed some springtails into the container to keep the small seedlings well fed and to remove any possible source of mold infection. Springtails feed on decaying organic matter which can quickly lead to mold growth. When I feed my adult carnivores with beta fish food, I usually use the same food to feed the tiny seedlings as well. Well, at least some of them. I dilute the fish food with distilled water a bit more than the food I make for my large plants. I dip a toothpick into the prepared fish food and tap the tiny carnivore leaves with the toothpick. I make sure there are no large chunks that could harm the plants. I don’t feed them that way very often, because it’s much easier to just watch the springtails get caught.

ūüôā

Feeding the Sundew forest
Feeding the Sundew forest

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