Intro: Artificial Peat Bog for Carnivorous Plants
Some plants need a particular soil to grow, others can grow pretty much everywhere.
A peat is an interesting soil type. It is a humid environment essentially composed of decaying sphagnum which makes it a very acidic ground but also very poor in nutrients. Still as nature abhors vacuum, various trees, shrubs and flowers grow in this ecosystem. Amongst these are carnivorous plants. As the soil lacks minerals, some plants evolved to catch nutrients out of the ground such as insects.
To cultivate your own carnivorous plants, you will need to keep them in big buckets or build your own peat bog. An artificial peat bog needs to be big enough to sustain large temperature variation without losing all its water.
Step 1: Dig a Hole
The hole needs to be at least 2 feet deep. The surface should be at least 20 square feet. Mine is 7 feet long and a bit more than 3 feet wide. This high volume is important to prevent too much water loss in the summer months.
Step 2: Cover the Hole
Make a wooden frame around the hole. This is where we will staple our pond liner later.
Using some old carpet, cover the bottom and all four sides of the hole. This will prevent any roots and rodents from making holes in your liner.
Step 3: Fill the Hole With Peat
The first step is to place your pond liner. Make sure that it is going all the way to each corners and staple it to the wooden beams. Cut the excess. Make a small hole about 3 inches from the top to create an overflow. You don't want the peat to fill completely up with water.
Cut a large PVC tube (4") to the height of the artificial bog(2 feet) and drill holes into the bottom half. This will ensure a good circulation of water through the tube. Put this tube in a corner and start filling the cavity with peat. You will need a lot of peat.
From time to time, put some RAIN water in the cavity to humidify the peat. It is important to use only de-mineralized water to keep the soil poor in nutrients.
You might have to stomp on the peat bare feet to accelerate the peat re-hydration.
Once the cavity is filled with peat, make the surface uneven to ensure various soil conditions.
Step 4: Add Plants and Decoration
Now that the peat moss has reached the top and is re-hydrated, you can start planting various species of carnivorous plants.
Install plants taking care of their natural requirements (i.e. Darlingtonia and Sarracenia down a slope while Dionea and Cephalotus up the slope).
Make sure the peat is always humid in summer and cover it in winter to prevent from big frost.
If you want, you can add some decorative elements such as logs and rocks (no limestone as it would dissolve in the low pH water).
The PVC pipe is quite large so you will need to make a cap to prevent any animals from getting trapped.
A water level indicator can be made by mounting a skewer on a cork. Place this indicator in the PVC tube.
Step 5: Peat Maintenance
Over time, some moss will develop on the dark surface of bare peat. This is not a problem at first, it even looks quite nice. However, as this moss grows quite fast, it will slowly suffocate your plants.
One solution to this problem is to simply manually remove that mossy layer. It takes a long time and you will have to watch for all the seedlings. Another solution is to grow live peat. It will grow at the same speed as the carnivorous plants.
A common problem is birds and cats scraping the peat. A net can be suspended over the surface to prevent this kind of trouble.
When your plants make new flowers, you have the choice to cut it to keep the plant energy or to let it grow and wait for seeds to get produced. Seeds will scatter on the surface and create new individuals. It is quite interesting to study the hybridization between Dionea cultivars.
This artificial bog is located in France and sustains a continental climate where temperatures can reach 40C in summer and -15C in winter. During the cold months, if the ground is not protected by snow, you can use a breathable fabric and some straw to insulate the peat.
This bog has hosted carnivorous plants since 2011 (Sarracenia, Dionea, Drosera).