Saturday, 25 September 2021

Mache, corn salad, lamb lettuce

Mache (Valerianella locusta), also called lamb lettuce, or corn salad, is a small annual leaf vegetable.  It is used raw much like lettuce, but only grows in cooler weather.

Mache self seeds in my garden, but not as readily as I would like.  I would prefer if this self seeded a whole lot more because I really like to eat it.  It also grows with no help from me at all, mostly because it grows over the cooler months when it tends to rain a bit here.

Mache is a rather obscure salad vegetable that is only eaten by those who grow it themselves or people who forage for it if it grows wild near them.  Archaelogical evidence shows that it was eaten in the Stone Age lake dwellings throughout Switzerland.  It used to be very popular in Europe because it survives cold weather.  

Mache practically disappeared once large scale farming became the norm.  It does not cope with storage or transport, and it has to be harvested by hand, so if you want to eat it you really must grow it yourself.  Given how simple it is to grow, how tasty it is, and how nutritious it is, I think everyone should have a little self-seeding patch of corn salad in their yard. 

Mache corn salad leaves

Mache is tremendously more nutritious than lettuce, and in my opinion tastes far better than any lettuce.  Its downfalls are that it won't grow during the warmer months, and it is dreadfully low yielding.

I often forget all about this little plant until it germinates, then I impatiently wait for it to grow large enough to eat.  I think most people pluck entire plants to eat but I pick individual leaves so each plant can eventually flower and drop seed.  After mache flowers it drops seed and dies, then I forget about it until the seeds start to germinate the following winter.  I don't tend to collect seeds, I just let them fall and remain in the soil to germinate where they want to.

Much like everything that you grow from seed, each generation you are applying selective pressure and creating at least some genetic drift.   In my garden the smaller and slower growing plants are eaten and not allowed to flower.  The larger growing plants are allowed to flower and drop seed, this ensures the next generation carry strong genetics and are capable of producing larger healthy plants.

I started with seed for 'Dutch' mache.  I was told that they would produce  the largest plants.  The plants were tiny, but delicious, so well worth growing.  After a few generations I now have plants that have slightly larger leaves.  

This is still a small plant and always will be, you would need to grow a lot to feed your family, but I enjoy the time of year when it is growing in my garden.

Miner's lettuce on left and mache on the right

This is one of the leaf vegetables that I wish grew during the heat of summer.  Unfortunately I doubt that it will ever be able to grow over summer.

I really should track down a few varieties and let them mass cross and try to select for larger plants.  For now I am enjoying eating the plants, after they drop seed I will likely forget about them until it is cool enough for them to germinate again.

My plants are growing now, and will start to flower in the coming weeks.  If I collect seed I will likely list it on my for sale page.  If I don't save seed, or I am sold out, there are a few places that sell seeds of mache so you should be able to find it somewhere.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Pygmy Drosera gemmae sprouting

Years ago I grew pymgy sundews, I really liked them.  I had a lot of species back then.  Strangely enough, even though they come from Australia very few people sell pygmy drosera here.  It appears that most of the species I grew are no longer offered for sale anywhere.  Maybe they are no longer in cultivation?  Who knows.

I had been looking for pygmy sundews for sale, but I am not willing to pay the prices that people sell them for (postage usually puts them well out of my price range).  Then I found someone who had pygmy sundew gemmae for sale.  He had a few different species and graciously agreed to give me a mix of two species for one price instead of making me pay for two lots.  These species look different from one another from an early age so I was happy to get a mix of gemmae.

Gemmae are like tiny cuttings that the plant made of itself.  They aren't much to look at, but gemmae tend to grow a lot faster than seed, and are exact genetic replicas of the parent plant.  Very few people sell pygmy drosera gemmae, which I find odd as pygmy sundew plants dislike being transplanted and the gemmae are so simple to grow and simple to post. 

This photo shows a mix of Drosera pulchella and Drosera pygmaea the day they arrived in the post.  There were a lot of black gemmae, but there were also a lot of healthy green gemmae.  Can you tell which gemmae are which species?  I can't tell these gemmae apart, so will have to wait until they grow to know which is which. 

Pygmy Drosera Gemmae

After they arrived I planted half of the gemmae in a pot that I kept inside on the kitchen windowsill, the other half in a pot that was kept outside with more sunlight.  I don't plant them, I scatter them on top of damp sphagnum peatmoss mixed with sand.  If you bury the gemmae they tend not to do very well.  It has been a little cold, so they took a little while to sprout.  At this stage I am not sure if only the green ones sprouted or if the black ones were also viable.  I will find out once they grow a little more and I can count them.

The ones inside my house had less sunlight, but more stable temperatures.  The ones outside had much more sunlight, warmer day time temperatures, and cooler night time temperatures.  I grew both in pots sitting in a tray of water, the water level is very high for now to maintain high humidity.  I will lower the water level once they grow a little bit.

The gemmae in the house sprouted first while the ones outside sprouted slightly later.  I am not sure if both species are sprouting or if one has sprouted first, but it doesn't matter.  

The ones in the house are noticeably larger than the ones outside.  I'm not sure if the house are healthy or if they stretching because they are lacking sunlight.  The ones outside are less advanced, but appear healthy.  Time will tell which is the best method of growing them.  

On second thoughts, I may move them all into my greenhouse and hope for the best.

Gemmae arrived 17/08/2021
Gemmae sprouting indoors 02/09/2021 

Gemmae sprouting outdoors 04/09/2021 

I should take a photo of the pygmy drosera when they are a little larger as they are super cutie carnivorous plants.  For now the sprouting gemmae are too tiny for me to photograph. 

Pygmy drosera gemmae sprouting outside

Pygmy Drosera gemmae sprouting in the house

I think that pygmy sundews are great, when actively growing they are like miniature glistening jewels.  Being so small they won't impress your non-carnivorous plant growing friends, and growing a pot full certainly won't rid your yard of flies and wasps, but I think they are very beautiful. 

Being tiny means you can easily grow pygmy sundews on a window sill where they may catch tiny gnats or small ants and the occasional pantry moth, and they quite happily live in small pots.  They tend to have surprisingly long roots, and dislike being transplanted, so it is best to use deeper pots.  A lot of them can fit in one pot, and each plant tends to grow a lot of gemmae so they can quickly cover an area.  Some species of pygmy sundews are very simple to grow, and are great for kids and beginners.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Breeding Muscari Grape Hyacinth

A couple of years ago I taught myself how to grow grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum from seed.  Growing grape hyacinth from seed was really easy, and very cost effective, but took far more time than growing from bulbs.  I find that grape hyacinth take about 2 years to flower when grown from seed, which really isn't too long to wait considering how little space they use.

I have grown a few different generations of them since then and am starting to get some lines that are segregating.  Every year I think I should buy some different types, but I never do.  I planted seed from regular blue grape hyacinth and collected seed from those seed grown plants.  It appears that these spring bulbs carry some genetic diversity.

Seed grown grape hyacinth muscari flowers

As you can see above, some plants have light coloured flowers, while others have much darker flowers.  These don't appear to lighten or darken as they age, what you see is what you get.  These plants were the same age and growing side by side, so it is unlikely to be caused by environmental factors.

At this stage none of them appears significantly more or less vigorous than the others.  If I ever get a more vigorous line that produces more flowers per bulb, or larger flowers, or something interesting I will likely grow out that line further.

I really like the smell of grape hyacinths, and am yet to find any plants that have more or less fragrance than any others.  I would be likely to select lines that have a stronger scent if one ever appears in my garden.

My kids like picking spring flowers

My kids love to pick these flowers.  Normally if I were saving seed I would discourage picking, but muscari seem to set some seed even after they have been picked and kept in a tiny vase.  

Picking the flowers likely reduces the number of seeds that are produced, but I generally get a few seed pods per flower stalk so this never bothers me too much.  If I ever buy one of the expensive varieties to use for breeding then I may care a little more, but until then my kids can pick and enjoy the flowers.

Muscari grape hyacinth breeding

If you plan to grow grape hyacinths do try and be a little careful.  Under the right conditions they can spread, both by producing numerous bulbs as well as dropping seeds.  I have no idea if they are illegal to grow in any state, all I know is they are ok to grow in NSW.

I like the look of grape hyacinths, and the smell of them, and the bees seem to enjoy them in early spring/late winter, and they take next to no effort or space to grow, so I will keep growing them for now.  As you can see below my kids enjoy picking spring flowers for the table.

Spring flowers

Grape hyacinths and other flowers

While bulbs are often sold, very few places sell grape hyacinth seeds for some reason even though they are simple to grow.  I collect seed each year and sell seed, I also plant any of the seed that doesn't sell.  If you have these growing nearby you could collect the seeds yourself, or you can look on my for sale page if you are interested.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

My New Greenhouse

I have grown plants for decades, strangely I have never used a greenhouse.  

I once tried those tiny plastic covered ones, the plastic did not last one season and now I use it as shelving to store pots of growing things.  When I was at university I also got to walk through some enormous commercial greenhouses which had automated vents and sprinklers, they were incredible.  Other than that, I have no greenhouse growing experience.

Recently my wife and kids built me a walk in greenhouse with many useful shelves.  At first I was worried about the price, and was not sure I would use it enough to warrant spending that much money.  

My new amazing greenhouse

Lots of growing space in here

I put a thermometer in my greenhouse that somehow talks to a unit that is in my house, and I have a weather station outside, between them I can compare the temperature of all three from my living room.  It is very convenient.

The first day after the greenhouse had been built the weather was rather warm outside, and rather hot in the greenhouse.  I can replace the plastic walls with shade cloth if it gets too hot, but for now we still have some cold weather so want it to retain some warmth.

The next day it was cold and rained all day, the greenhouse stayed a few degrees warmer in the greenhouse than outside.  

The day after that it was overcast, windy, and really freezing outside, but the greenhouse somehow warmed up considerably.  It was freezing outside, even inside my house was colder than the greenhouse!  This is with no sun, just gloom on a drizzly overcast day.  

I didn't think to take a photo of the weather station until after it warmed up a little outside.  That day the temperature outside reached about 9 degrees at its peak, inside my house got to about 14, and in the greenhouse eventually reached a toasty 17.9

Temperature outside 7.2C, in my house 14.0C, in greenhouse 16.7C

I have planted some seeds in seed flats and put them in the greenhouse, and moved in a few of our carnivorous plants, and put in some some cuttings that have not yet grown roots, as well as some of my suffering tropicals, and will see how each of them cope with the added day time warmth.  

Oddly enough, the night time temperatures in the greenhouse are colder than outside by a degree or two.  I imagine this is due to evaporation and wind.  I am also guessing that once the outside temperatures drop below freezing that the greenhouse will remain warmer than outside and should keep off the frost.

Sundew seedlings are already catching insects

Sundew already catching a surprising amount of insects

I have a feeling that tropical plants such as kangkong and rice paddy herb will thrive in my greenhouse, and there are a bunch of things I currently don't grow as winters are too cold that I may now be able to try.  There are also some things I grow that perform poorly here that may do fine in my greenhouse.  It is all very new.

I have no idea what will happen over summer, and hope it does not get too hot in there.  The walls can be removed and replaced with shade cloth, as can the roof, so it may take some trial and error to work out a nice routine with it.  

I am excited to see what I can do with this thing!

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Yam Daisy (murnong) from seed

There are three species of native perennial root vegetable called Yam Daisy (also called Murnong), the one I am growing is Microseris walteri.  

I am told that of the three, M walteri is the tastiest, and grows the largest fattest roots with the least fiber.  Yam daisy used to be considered as one single species, then one species with several different subspecies, now it is considered to be three separate species (although there may be more lurking out there).

Yam daisy used to be very common around here and was a staple food prior to European settlement, but it is very rare now.  Sadly the yam daisy has all but disappeared from much of its native range.  I know very few people who have ever eaten yam daisy, and even less who have grown it.  

I had been looking for yam daisy plants or seeds for a few years but was never able to get it.  A year or two ago a very generous grower friend of mine asked if I could track down some yam daisy seeds for him.  He has given me plenty of seeds over the years so I put in some decent effort and started to look around online and ask around a bit more seriously.  For some reason everywhere has been sold out.  I found one place selling 10 seeds for $8 (plus postage), but that price is absurd for something that is meant to have low germination rates so I kept looking.

Yam Daisy seedlings germinating

Yam daisy is native to my area, and there are some growing not more than 50m from my house.  Unfortunately they are on crown land, so I can not touch them.  I don't think I am even allowed to collect their seed without a permit.  

I know of a native plant nursery up the road who has yam daisy, unfortunately they are not selling their plants as they are building up stock, plus they could not tell me which species they had.

I found some yam daisy seeds for sale recently, they were Microseris walteri.  I planted half of the seeds and posted the other half of the seeds to my friend.  It took me a few years, bit I finally got him some seeds.

I have heard that yam daisy usually displays a germination rate of about 10%.  I planted a dozen seeds, and hoped that with a bit of luck I should get 2 or 3 of them to grow.  I figured from there I could build up numbers in time.

I surface sowed the seeds in late winter, partially protected them from the heaviest frosts, and had 100% germination.  Every single seed germinated, even the smaller brown seeds that I assumed were not viable have germinated!  

My guess is fresh seeds germinate well and germination drops off quickly in older seed.  That's good to know.

Murnong seedlings - 100% germination from fresh seeds

I don't really know how to grow yam daisy, but they are native to this region so they should survive.  Hopefully these grow well for me and produce seed in season. 

If they grow for me and produce seed I would love to do a little yam daisy breeding to see if I can produce fatter roots, or sweeter roots, or generally improved plants.

I have no idea how much (if any) genetic diversity is in my stock, but I assume they are completely different to the local plants growing near by.  As the native plants are so close, and there are a large number of native pollinators here, it is reasonable to assume there will be some local pollen finding its way into my stock.  That will introduce diversity, and make breeding improved plants a little easier.

Given how absurdly difficult yam daisy is to come by, and the fact that they ought to be more commonly grown through their native home range, if I ever have any spare seed or extra plants I will offer them through my for sale page.  These seedlings are only germinating and getting their first true leaves now, so I can't imagine I will have anything for sale overly soon.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Culinary Thyme: comparison of five varieties

I have grown a lot of varieties of thyme over the years.  People often describe a variety, yet irritatingly no one ever seems to compare different varieties.

Jekkas Thyme, Tabor thyme, Lemon thyme, Orange peel thyme, Regular thyme

I wrote a comparison of thyme varieties a while ago, and thought I would do another quick comparison.  

My tabor thyme and regular thyme are just about the be phased out.  They take too much effort to grow for too little reward, they grow too slowly, they don't produce enough leaves, and my Jekkas thyme has largely swamped them with its incredible vigorous growth.  

Jekka's thyme grows so fast, and produces so many leaves and tremendous numbers of flowers in spring, it really is hard to go past this variety.

Five varieties of edible thyme

I thought I would show you the amount of leaves per sprig of each variety, as well as the different sizes of leaves between each variety. 

All of these photos from left to right have: Jekka's thyme, Tabor thyme, Lemon thyme, Orange peel thyme, and regular kitchen thyme.

As you can see, regular thyme (on the far right) has few leaves per stem, and the leaves are small. 

Orange peel thyme has tiny leaves, and the plant doesn't grow very large, but nothing else really smells of orange peel.  I am growing this for now but will eventually lose it as it grows slow and will likely get over run by something and starved of light.

The lemon thyme has small leaves, but makes up for that in smelling like lemons as well as thyme, and having a lot of leaves per stem. 

Tabor thyme is good, it has large leaves and good numbers of leaves per stem.  It needs a bit of extra water to get through summer.

Jekka's thyme (on the far left) has larger leaves and the leaves usually aren't too sparse.

Five leaves: Jekka's thyme, Tabor thyme, Lemon thyme, Orange peel thyme, Regular thyme

It would take a lot of regular thyme to get a decent amount of leaves as they have so few leave on a stems, and the leaves are so tiny.  Jekka's thyme and Tabor thyme each have a lot more leaves, and the leaves on both are much larger than regular kitchen thyme.  The taste of all of these is much the same.

The incredible rate that Jekka's thyme grows and spreads means that getting a decent harvest really doesn't take too long.  Any place a stem touches the soil it seems to put down roots.

Thyme leaf comparison - ruler for scale

All of these thyme varieties seem to cope well with heavy frosts.  They don't grow much over winter, but they don't die or decline either.  

I know garden books always speak of how thyme is drought resistant, but none of them love dry conditions.  Tabor thyme seems to perform the worst in the dry.  Perhaps my garden is drier and more harsh than most, but I have never seen any variety of thyme that can survive drought without extra water.

Jekkas thyme, Tabor thyme, and regular kitchen thyme all smell and taste much the same.  I sometimes think Jekka's thyme may be a little stronger, but that changes with the weather or something.

Jekka's thyme also flowers like crazy in spring, while my other varieties of thyme always flower very sparingly.  The bees and other beneficial insects seem to love thyme blossom so the huge numbers of them on Jekka's thyme is a benefit to spring bees.

Jekka's thyme flowers

Jekkas Thyme starting to flower

Out of these thyme varieties I prefer Jekka's thyme as it is the most productive and very simple to grow.  I won't grow many varieties of thyme for much longer because it is too hard stopping Jekka's thyme from overrunning the other slower growing but similar tasting varieties.  There is no real point trying to protect a poor performer when I have a stand out like Jekkas thyme.

Jekkas thyme used to be rare in Australia, but I am happy to say that it is becoming far more common.  I sell bare rooted Jekkas thyme plants through my for sale page, and I may sell other varieties of thyme on occasion.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Venus Flytrap Winter Dormancy

I have been growing carnivorous plants for more years that I care to admit.  I have grown a lot of different species over the years, some were simple while others had more complex needs.  As with most people, the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) started it all for me.  

Venus Flytraps perform best with winter dormancy.  At first their dormancy was a scary mystery, now I understand dormancy a little better I know it is nothing to be worried about. 

Last year my son wanted a venus flytrap.  I gave him a small typical venus flytrap, and he looked after it really well.  The thing grew really large, got some great colouration, then when winter hit it went dormant and looked like it was dead.  All of this is fantastic and shows he was looking after his plant properly.

Contrary to what most people have been told, venus flytraps are not tropical plants.  They do well in areas that are frosty over winter.  I grow them outside, certainly never in a terrarium, and allow them to be hit with frosts and ice and hail and snow.  When days get short and cold my Venus flytraps experience partial or complete dormancy. 

My son's venus fly trap looks horrible over winter, and he worried that he had killed it.  I had to assure him that this was a great sign and that he was doing everything right.  We repotted the plant ready for spring, and I showed him the healthy fat white rhizome, and he felt a lot better about his plant.  I expect this to grow well and divide in spring.  It should make three or more plants for him.

Pictures of my son's dormant Venus flytrap are below.  Once repotted it still looked utterly dreadful, before being repotted it looked like the moss was going to over take it.  

To be clear, (apart from the moss) this is normal and healthy for a venus flytrap in my climate.

Dormant VFT repotted (ignore the tiny sundews) and ready for spring growth

The same vft before repotting - not much to look at

Different varieties of venus flytrap seem to cope with winter differently even if they are growing side by side.  This different in growth is due to their genetics.

The picture below shows how they some of my plants coped with dormancy this year.  Note that all have small traps and short leaves, just as they should over winter.  None of them are large magnificent plants over winter.  If they did look great over winter then something would be terribly wrong and they would likely rot and die in spring.

Various Venus Flytraps at the end of winter

Some of the venus flytraps pretty much disappeared, like Nanuq's plant, but the rhizome under ground is strong and healthy.  This is normal and healthy.

Others retained some above ground growth, but looked very shabby.  Leaves were shorter and sometimes the traps were weird and mis-shapen.  This is normal and healthy for these ones, and in spring I expect them to grow well.

These Venus Flytraps retained some growth over winter

Some of my larger, more upright venus flytraps go dormant in a different way.  Over summer they have large traps and upright growth.  Over winter they grow shorter leaves that stay close the the ground, and the traps produced over winter are much smaller.  

Again, this is normal and healthy.  That is how they do their dormancy.  If they kept growing large upright leaves over winter I would expect them to rot and die in spring.

Once the weather warms they will have upright growth and large traps again (and probably a flower stalk).  For now they are doing everything they should be doing.

'Big Vigorous' VFT has short leaves low to the ground over winter
Breaking dormancy, low winter leaves and tall summer leaves

Other vft varieties never have upright growth, 'Low Giant' is an example of this.  Over winter the rosette becomes more compact than normal as the petioles are shorter and the traps much smaller. 

This plant is also healthy and strong, exactly what I would expect to see over winter.  You may notice at the top of the picture some tiny plants, these came from a flower stalk cutting.

I need to repot and divide this plant soon.

Low Giant VFT over winter

Towards the end of winter/beginning of spring I usually try to repot my Venus Flytraps. 

Often they have divided a little and most have a large plant and one or two small offsets.  Some varieties are a bit more vigorous and will have up to half a dozen small divisions.  Others, such as Wally, can have a dozen or more divisions.  This has a lot to do with their genetics, and a bit to do with how well they were grown.

Sometimes when I am dividing plants that are emerging from dormancy I will also take a few leaf pullings.  I probably should wait until warmer weather for leaf pullings, but depending on the variety many will grow a baby plant or two even at this time of year.

Tiny VFT divisions - super cute but will grow fast

Vft divisions, and some leaf pullings

If you want to buy a venus flytrap it is sometimes difficult to find a good variety unless they are posted.  Luckily Venus flytraps do go extremely well through the post.  Apart from the ones I have grown from seed, I think all of my Venus flytraps were posted to me bare rooted.

I will have some 'typical' venus flytraps for sale and should have some named varieties for sale in late spring.  Many of my typical vfts are superior named varieties but I have lost their names, others are seed grown, and I think that all of them are pretty great.  Keep an eye on my for sale page in late spring/early summer if you are interested.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Drosera binata over winter

I have always wanted to grow Drosera binata because I really like the look of them.  They are a common, easy to grow, relatively hardy, Australian native carnivorous plants.  

I have grown carnivorous plants for many years and always wanted a binata.  For some inexplicable reason I was never able to get a binata until last year.

Last year I bought a D binata t form.  The t form is meant to be small but hardy, I am told this one will survive pretty much anything and is not meant to have any problems with the winters here. 

The plant turned up looking rather shabby, and declined very quickly.  Not too long after it arrived all above ground growth disappeared completely.  Spring came, and still no growth.  After a few months of warm weather and no signs of growth I figured it was dead.  I kept it in a tray of water, but was pretty sure it was never coming back and had planned to plant another sundew in its pot at a later stage.

A very generous person (Shane) then sent me some of his binata plants.  They were a different form, the leaves were thicker and more branched, and they looked great.  I had no idea if they would be likely to survive my winter but was more than willing to give them a try.

Drosera binata t form last winter

A few weeks after that my original binata t form came back to life.  Apparently it was just dormant, and it stayed dormant really late into spring.  

All the plants grew through summer, they flowered and set seed, and looked tired at the end of autumn.  Having several genetically different plants meant that they all set seed and there were not self-incompatibility issues.

I planted some seed, and now also have some tiny binata seedlings.

Then winter came.  My binata t form has lost all above ground parts.  The other plants have died back a lot but still look alive.  I can still see the growing points and a few new leaves unfurling.

I kept the binata seedlings sheltered, they sure don't love winter, but are appear to be surviving.  I expect to see some nice growth from them once the weather warms in spring and I give them more sun.

Drosera binata over winter

Drosera binata t form this winter

It appears that my binata t form loses all above ground parts over winter, and the larger form dies back a lot but still looks alive.  This is good to know.  

I have no idea how the seedlings will fare, I have a feeling that there is a bit of genetic diversity amongst them and I may end up with a range of things.  I have some seedlings in pots with venus flytraps out in the frost, some of these seedlings seem to be growing through winter while most of the others are dying back.  

Friday, 20 August 2021

Olive herb (Santolina rosmarinifolia)

I am growing a few new plants this year.  Some are species that I am familiar with but varieties that I have never grown, others are plants that I have never grown, and some I have only ever heard of but never actually seen. 

One edible herb I have been looking for years is called olive herb (Santolina rosmarinifolia).  

This is not 'olive leaf', which is just the leaves of the olive tree, this is a little perennial edible herb that smells like olives.

Olive Herb

I have been searching for this plant for a few years, but never seem to be able to buy it.  I am told that this plant withstands light frosts, but not heavy ones.  I am also told it smells and tastes like olives.  Other than that I know little of this herb.

Recently my kid's swimming teacher offered to keep an eye out for it.  Amazingly within a few weeks she found it and bought one for me!  Then a few weeks later I went to Bunnings and they had these plants for sale too.  

I now have a small olive herb plant.  I am keeping it partly protected from frosts in its little pot for now, and once the weather warms up I plan to plant it in the vegetable garden and see how it performs for me.  

This plant smells nice.  Other than brush my hand over the plant and smell it I haven't done anything with it yet, so can't comment on the taste or anything like that. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what this little plant can do.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Venus Flytrap - Wally

A year or two ago I was sent two lovely "Wally" Venus flytraps from a very generous friend as a surprise.  I had no idea that this was being sent until I opened the package!  All the pictures below are of my Wally Venus Flytrap plants.

I grow a few different flytraps, some are named varieties, others are seed grown, some have upright growth, some always stay close to the ground, some produce clumps, some are colourful, and others are very green.  Plants grown side by side often look and perform differently as they have different genetics.

I'm not sure how many different venus flytrap clones are in Australia, out of all of the ones I have grown so far my favourite clone, and the easiest venus fly trap to grow, is this Wally Venus flytrap.  

Wally Venus Flytrap Australia
Wally Venus Flytrap

Wally VFT

I made a blog post with pictures of the growth rate of Wally VFT over a year.  This is the most vigorous flytrap I have ever grown.

Wally has large traps, stays low to the ground, has great colour, is very vigorous, it either grows impressively large or clumps like crazy (I don't know how it decides which to do), and it survives some really harsh conditions that would kill many other varieties.  Wally is my fastest growing Venus flytrap, and it produces far more natural divisions each year than any of the other varieties that I grow.  

Being so hardy, and so impressive looking with incredible colour and very large traps, I think Wally would be a great Venus flytrap for beginners.

I wish I understood what makes it clump and what makes it grow into a large plant.  The two larger plants above produced the two clumps lower down in this page.

To give you a better understanding of Wally Venus Flytraps I figured I would cut and paste some descriptions from the breeder and a few other places.

Wally Venus Flytrap Australia
Wally Venus Flytrap


1) Description from Sam1greentmb (the breeder of this variety who has also developed more VFT cultivars than I have ever seen):

This is an incredibly beautiful cultivar which I grew some time ago. It came from the seeds of a "Big Mouth" Venus flytrap. The plant sometimes clusters into many plants, or it grows as a single plant and turns gigantic in size!

What does Wally have that many other Venus flytraps do not?
It always has red purple traps throughout the seasons, not just during cool weather. Wally also can give out the most amazing dark red purple traps when grown under artificial lighting. This colour is the most darkest red, intense red purple colour of any venus flytrap cultivar that I know!

Wally Venus Flytrap - my baby plant is growing well

2) Description from FlytrapStore:

If you like Big Mouth and Low Giant, you'll love Wally! Wally is very similar in neat growth habit, with its year-round ground-hugging big traps, but can impressively develop even more exceptional and eye-catching bright red coloration on its trap interiors. It reproduces more than most other Venus flytraps, producing baby Wally flytraps so you can have more Wallys! Not to mention, it's one of the hardiest Venus Flytraps we know of. Everything to like about this one - it has become one of our favorites since being able to acquire it.

Wally originates from Venus flytrap grower and breeder, Sam1greentmb. In his description, Wally distinguishes itself from other flytraps by its ability to get very large or clump a lot and because it has red-purple traps throughout all seasons (provided it gets good sunlight), not just in cool weather. And it gets the deepest purpled-colored traps Sam has ever seen.  'Purple Ambush' is the most colorful Venus flytrap we've ever seen.

Wally vft clumping - divided into 2 very large plants and 12 smaller plants
Wally Venus Flytrap during winter in Australia
Another Wally VFT clumping over winter

 3) Description of Wally VFT from 

Some of the features Wally has that I think are catching are its low to the ground growth and it seems to hold its coloration even in the hot hot parts of the summer while most of the rest of my VFTs lose lots of their color and it tends to be a clumper.

Wally won't get deep purple traps without strong light but does get deep red traps without strong light. In that way it colors up very easily. Even my Wallys from Matt, have a lot of color on them for plants not too long out of TC and not in one of my sunnier spots in my yard either.

Wally gets about as big as a Big Mouth, which was its parent plant. But it has even shorter leaves than Big Mouth does and can get even more purplish in its traps than Big Mouth too. I've seen my Wallys red all over with purple traps before. It almost can be called a red clone. 

It also tends to multiply like crazy. One large plant can make 15 or more natural divisions a year easily. Keep in mind this is strictly from natural division, unaffected by TC at all. Who knows what the TCed ones will do. Wally also is a pretty fast grower and I have found can grow at a good pace in cooler temperatures as well just like B52 can, unlike all other clones that I know. For example, Wally can put on decent growth even in the high 60s (16-21C) and overcast.

IMO, there's not much point in buying a Big Mouth if you can get a Wally instead. Wally has more pronounced features of all the features that Big Mouth has that has made it popular. It's like a super Big Mouth.

Wally has darker color, not just that it tans darker and easier as well but the green non-tanned color is a darker hue of green as well. Wally grows faster than Big Mouth too. The deep purple tan it gets in its traps is darker than the purple tan that Big Mouth gets. When I saw my Wallys tan really dark the whole plant was red. There may have been some dark green in a few tiny spots not well exposed to the sun but the plant was basically 95% red or purple. I've never seen my Big Mouths do that though I have seen them mostly red and purple all over before too.

There is not much more I can add to these descriptions, these people have grown far more venus flytrap varieties than I have even seen, so they really know their stuff.

I plan to divide more of my Wally venus flytraps in spring.  If you are a carnivorous plant collector and would like to swap some plants please let me know as I have divided my plants and should have a few extra plants late spring/early summer.  My contact details can be found on my for sale page where I sell other carnivorous plants and perennial vegetables and things. 

Wally vft
Wally Venus Flytrap colouring up nicely