For a garden that’s best described as exotic, you could try some of these carnivorous plants! The fringe benefit is that a part of your garden can now be free of pesky bugs, allowing you to enjoy nature without irritants!
Someone gifted you a gorgeous, exotic plant and suddenly you see that you no longer have any bugs around your house…Strange, sure, but okay—maybe the plant repels bugs. But if you seem to be missing a canary or that friendly little lizard, you might have a plant that has a penchant for flesh…
Exotic but rather deadly, the leaves of the cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica) are shaped like closed funnels. You may have got this “gift” as part of a container garden—the plant has tubular leaves that look like the raised head of a cobra. The leaves give out a sweet fragrance that attracts insects and small invertebrates. Once an insect comes to investigate the aroma and enters the funnel—the game is over. The inside of the funnel is a trap and slippery enough to keep the bug in. The funnel excretes digestive juices and breaks down the victim, thus letting the plant absorb the nutrients.
These are best grown in containers under warm temperatures, full sun and cold water—think swamp temperature.
The name sounds pretty and, frankly, so is this carnivorous plant—the sundew’s leaves end in antenna that seem to have captured a perfect dew drop at the end. These plants actively trap small insects with their mucilaginous (sticky) leaves and absorb the nutrients via enzymes.
Sundews (Drosera) also need bog-like climates to grow best—humid, warm and watery.
Venus Fly Trap
The Venus Fly Trap (aka the Jaws of Death or Dionaea muscipula) is possibly the most maladapted carnivorous plant in horror cum science fiction movies in which these plants gobble up human beings at the speed of light. In reality, they do manage to catch a few frogs and such—but mostly they feast on flies, crickets and other bugs.
You can grow these in pots with good drainage or in terrariums with a gravel bed. Try and water these with rain or distilled water—alkaline water will harm them.
Pitcher plants (aka Nepenthes) are called monkey cups because sometimes monkeys tend to drink the liquid out of these—however, the biggest of these can digest a rat! Called pitcher plants because their carnivorous parts are shaped like pitchers, they, too, use aromas to attract bugs. Once the bug sits on the lip of the pitcher, it falls inside and is unable to climb out. The splash they make in the liquid of the pitcher causes the pitcher to release digestive juices, and the bug is history.
High humidity, good watering and heat but very little direct sunlight is the best care you could give to your nepenthes plant.
If someone gifted you a Pinguicula (aka butterwort), chances are you wouldn’t know it’s a carnivorous plant until you suddenly notice the tiny bugs stuck on its underside. The leaves of butterworts group in a petal-like manner themselves and these plants do flower, too—but only the leaves act as carnivores. No mouse or frog eater here, but tiny gnats and flies don’t stand a chance. Once they get stuck to its gummy leaves, they get digested.
Butterworts grow in moderate temperature and need brightness, but not direct sunlight. Water once every 3-4 days when the topsoil becomes dry.
So here’s to your exotic, bug-free corner and your carnivorous plants, if you decide to keep this flora that eats fauna as a pet.