Posted by: livesimply2livewell | August 2, 2009

Little Shop of Horrors: The Carnivorous Plant in the Kitchen

Carnivorous plants on my windowsill.  Flies, beware.

Carnivorous plants on my windowsill. Flies, beware.

No, I don’t mean the use of carnivorous plants as ingredients. 

I suspect there would be a certain defining taste to a venus fly trap, a sundew, or a pitcher plant that might not go well with my usual recipes.

Rather, I am using a planter of assorted carnivorous plants to control the fruit flies, house flies, and other assorted insects with wings that find their way indoors and buzz around kitchens in the summertime.

It was an impulse buy, the sort of purchase that I am trying to avoid as I lurch awkwardly toward simplicity and redefine what abundance means. 

I was making my last pass through the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.  My shopping for peaches and nectarines and blackberries was finished, and a little money remained in the wallet.  Then I passed a vendor with tables full of cultivated carnivorous plants native to the Carolinas.  I’d just been thinking that the blackberries would be sure to draw fruit flies almost immediately, even as I prepared them for freezing. 

I came away $15.00 lighter in the wallet and lugging a planter of fairly good size full of plants that derive their nutrients from insects they lure with sticky-sweet nectar. 

How to use this newfound organic power to trap and kill flies was something that took a little consideration. 

If I keep the planter on the windowsill, it will need additional grow-lighting.  That’s probably not the best thing compared with having a lot of natural light just a few steps away outdoors.   And boggy carnivorous plants like humidity much more than I do.

Plus, the plants will need dormancy in the winter months.  They’re hardy enough here in central N.C., and they benefit from a dormant time with temperatures in the 35-55 range or so.  My house is cold in winter.  But not that cold.  Seems as though they will need to be either out on the deck, brought in during a cold snap, or in the store-room under my office with my freezer, winter apples, and dormant angel trumpet container plants.

For the rest of summer and fall, I’ve decided to keep the plants just outside my kitchen door, where I can make sure they don’t dry out and where they might distract and intercept errant house flies before the nasty little buzzing things breach the perimeter.  Occasionally I will bring the planter into the kitchen for a few hours to deal with the fruit flies.

So far the sundews have picked up many fruit flies, and there is a house fly showing interest in the venus fly trap. 

The plants themselves are beautiful in a prehistoric sort of way.  I love the

The plants are beautiful in a prehistoric sort of way.  Sundews and pitcher plants tower above the toothed, plated leaves of the venus flytrap.

The plants are beautiful in a prehistoric sort of way. Sundews and pitcher plants tower above the toothed, plated leaves of the venus flytrap.

filigree of the sundews against the toothed plates of the venus fly trap leaves, and the pitcher plants tower gracefully above, giving the arrangement some height.  Green and red of many shades mingle in the leaves and flowers. 

I’m hoping my little shop of (flying insect) horrors will do its job for a long time.

Information on conditions and care of carnivorous plants from the International Carnivorous Plant Society

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