The world acquired too many gardeners in the epidemic. There is a discussion of ficus, demons and snake plants. But there is a group of planters who will roll their noses at this gentle greenery. They prefer plants with special needs – carnivorous plants that feed on insects, insects that grow in water, and epiphytic that can only grow on other plant surfaces.
These are not readily available. Each one needs a special type of environment around it to survive. This challenge is part of the attraction.
Payal Sarkar, 33, an underwriter with an insurance company, says she was fascinated by the idea of carnivorous plants since she first heard of them in school. She met him for the first time three years ago. He now has 25 non-vegetarian dishes including butter and Venus flytrap in the Uran house.
“Carnivorous plants get most of their energy from the sun, so they need a lot of sunlight. But their nutrients come from pests that get trapped in their innumerable webs. So you put them in nutrient-poor soil Can grow.
Her first purchase, a Nepenthes ventrata or hybrid pitcher plant, was a dormant carnivore. It experiences a sweet smell that carries insects like ants, spiders and fruits into its death trap. Ants usually make a beeline for bulbs. Anything that makes its way is dinner – each bulb is filled with a sticky digestive liquid that traps, sinks and then digests the insect.
“Plant production is liquid, but you have to monitor the level and add fresh, dechlorinated water to make sure it doesn’t dry out.”
The Venus Flytrap is famously active. Its blossom resembles a bear trap. Trigger hairs inside the lips suggest an insect landing plant. It will then wait for the insect to feel comfortable, ginger. “And then, in less than a second, it will stop trapping the fly inside,” Sarkar says, adding that she has been fascinated and looked on in fear as they have also eaten the spiders.
In Puducherry, the 28-year-old, Metha Sena, a Vedic scholar who works in a family-run gurukula, has an equal love for carnivorous plants and aquatic plants. A fourth of his income and all of his free time is spent caring for his huge garden, assisted by his wife.
Says Meena, “Once I have experimented with a kind of plant for a long time, I know the drill and I have to find a new challenge.”
Her current obsession is the water lily and lotus, whose scores rise in blue barrels on her roof. He learns how to do each new species from books and, more recently, Facebook discussion groups. “The book will tell you about general care and optimal climate, but discussion groups can tell you which species and what diversity can thrive in Puducherry’s climate,” says Cena.
Among the things he has learned for his water lilies is to make sure that each barrel has enough small native fishes to balance the algal blooms.
He is proud of his Thai lotus bloom, called Satta-bongkot, and his South American water lily, Victoria cruziana, whose plate-like leaves grow up to 2 meters in diameter.
“Cruziana is a matter of pride. When the leaves get bigger, in another week, I want to put my two young sons, four year olds and two month olds on each leaf and take a picture.
Now he sets his sights on Victoria Amazonica, in which the leaves are even bigger and stronger. He has sent word that he is searching for the seed. He is digging a pit to make room for a pond that will accommodate their 8 meter high stalks.
The Shiv Sena got their prized cruziana from a nursery run by Muthu Kumar and Varun Kumar of father and son in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu. They specialize in niche varieties and hybrids.
Climate is everything with special needs plants, Varun says. “If you are just starting out, go for the cheapest varieties so you can understand how water lilies can be kept alive, for example”. “Don’t even start with Lotus. They are very hard to bloom.
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