An explanation of how to prepare Canadian peat moss when using it to pot carnivorous plants such as the Venus Flytrap. Learn how to make peat tea in the process, which can be very beneficial for nepenthes and Venus flytrap growth.
Step 1: Introduction, Overview, & What You Will Need
Many people do not wash or soak their peat moss and use it straight from the bail with good results. Even when using the highest grade professional peat moss, we still follow a soak and rinse process which helps kill any fungus or bacteria spores that might be inside the peat.
Our process also removes any extra nutrients, lowers total dissolved solids (tds), and the left over peat moss tea can be very useful for you carnivorous and non-carnivorous plants.
You will need a trash can or a large container with a lid and lots of distilled or reverse osmosis (RO) water. We use a 30 Gallon Black trashcan and have an RO filter nearby.
Start by placing chunks of peat moss in your container. Break it up by rubbing the chunks between your hands. Remove twigs as you flush up the peat moss. Next, you will add your water. Do not simply hydrate the peat moss. If you filled your container ¼ of the way up, then use enough water to fill it to the ½ way point. Mix thoroughly and allow it to sit for a few minutes. More twigs should float up and can easily be removed now.
Step 2: Finishing Up & How to Utilize the Leftovers
Once everything is mixed, simply place the lid on top of your container and allow it to sit for 2-5 days. During this period, bacterial and fungal spores will germinate making them easy to kill with a weak fungicide. Excess nutrients will be leached out as well, which makes your peat moss better for carnivorous plant applications.
After a few days of steeping, you will need a clean microfiber rag, a mixing bowl or large pot, and a container for your peat moss. Optionally, keep another container handy for collection of your peat moss tea. Place the microfiber rag in your bowl and begin removing handfuls of peat from your "trash can" and plopping it on the microfiber rag.
Step 3: Remove Excess Water, Finish Preparation & Optionally Make Peat Moss Tea
When there is a decent sized pile of peat on your rag, you can pick it up from all four corners and twist to remove excess water. Optionally, you can add some extra distilled water before twisting it out for a better rinse or use a diluted solution containing distilled water and a fungicide such as daconil. Skip the fungicide if you want to use the peat tea to add organic matter to a vegetable garden.
Step 4: Carnivorous Plants Love Peat Moss Tea! Reap the Benefits
Peat Tea for Adjusting the pH of Carnivorous Plant Soils (it can also be used as a general soil amendment for your non-carnivorous garden)Peat Tea can also be used to correct pH problems that occur when a carnivorous plant has been in the same media for an extended period of time. It can also be used to aid in the production of red pigments that you might want to make stand out more.
Before using peat tea on any of your carnivorous plants, you will want to strain it. I place a ball of long fiber sphagnum at the bottom of a large pot and simply let it drip through. Test the TDS of your tea to ensure it is safe to use on your carnivores. If the TDS reading is high, then use about 1-2 cups of your tea per gallon of water. If you have a pH meter, we highly recommend standardizing this solution to a pH of about 4.5-5.0. Use the peat tea immediately or pasteurize it and use within a week or so.
Peat tea can be an exceptional supplement for nepenthes, especially if they have been growing in the same pot for a long period of time. The low pH solution will rejuvenate old soil and as mentioned before, peat moss has been shown help produce colorful carnivores. The same solution can be used for Dionaea during winter dormancy or when spring growth begins, but you are not ready to repot your plants yet. We generally flush nepenthes soil with distilled water about 2 weeks after the application of peat tea. This finalizes the removal of mineral build up and vastly extends the life of your potting media. Happy Growing! ~Southbay Traps~