Most people find carnivorous plants interesting. One definition for carnivorous plants states that they derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. These plants have a unique strategy for finding nutrients in poor soil: they catch insects and digest insects; and kids and adults alike simply find that to be fascinating.
We are fortunate to have dozens of species of carnivorous plants here in Florida, more than any other state. And, they are mostly found here in Northwest Florida.
Pitcher plants are probably what most people think of when they consider carnivorous plants. But there are other types, including sundews, bladderworts and butterworts.
Many of these plants have tempting bright colors and sweet nectar to help lure insects into their modified leaves, which contain sticky fluids and hairs that point downward making it difficult for the insects to escape. The insects become trapped inside as the plant’s digestive fluids absorb the insects and their nutrients.
Not only are carnivorous plants fascinating but many are quite beautiful with their unique characteristics and bright colors.
You can grow carnivorous plants at home. These wetland plants require a moist environment and a sunny location. They are more successfully grown outdoors in containers with a moist medium. Some can be grown indoors in a well-lit terrarium.
A number of our native carnivorous plants are threatened. So, do not remove plants from the wild; only purchase plants grown by respectable retailers.
Florida is blessed with an abundance of carnivorous plants, having over two-thirds of North America’s 45 species. The wet savannas and boggy areas in the Florida Panhandle are a carnivorous plant heaven. Approximately 36 species of carnivorous plants are found in the Florida Panhandle. Worldwide there are 630 species of carnivorous plants.
To learn more, you may wish to attend an upcoming seminar titled Carnivorous Plants of Florida’s Pitcher Plant Savannas being presented by Master Gardener Dave Gordon. This seminar will be held at the Okaloosa County Extension Annex from 10-11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 20. The Extension Annex is located at 127 NW Hollywood Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach, across the street from the Volkswagen auto dealership.
Gordon will focus on the dos and don’ts of growing pitcher plants in your landscape. Also, a variety of bog gardens will be on display as part of the presentation. Handouts will be available.
There is no cost to attend this seminar but space is limited so registration is required. Please call the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at (850) 689-5850 to register.
Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, September 12, 2017