Cool Plants for Kidsby Brian Wheat on July 11, 2013 at 8:36 am
“Mom, can we get a Venus flytrap? Please, please, please?!” I hear this plea in the garden center almost daily. Kids love carnivorous plants.
Carnivorous plants are cool and a great way to teach children about plants and how to care for them. They are not dangerous and do not bite; but they do eat insects and spiders. The three most popular and most available are the Venus flytrap, pitcher plant and octopus plant.
Of the three, the exotic Venus flytrap is the most popular. Native to sub-tropical wetlands in North and South Carolina, it attracts insects to eat, but it’s okay to feed it other bugs, but just not hamburger or other processed meat. Insects will crawl into an open trap, triggering the hairs and it will snap shut. The trap will remain closed for a few weeks as its digestive juices consume the intruder. They can go two months without food. To care for your hungry friend, keep it in a sunny window with high humidity. It loves moist soil, so place the pot in a tray of water with a half-inch of distilled or rain water.
The pitcher plant is fun with a big wow factor. Native to South America, North America and Australia’s marshes, bogs and rain forests, some live in trees and others live on the ground. Deep cup-shaped plants store sweet smelling juice that lures unsuspecting insects into its mouth. They fall in, drown and are dissolved. Large pitcher plants have been known to trap and eat frogs, birds and snakes. Follow the same easy care tips as the flytrap.
Another plant that rises from the bogs and swamps is the octopus plant. Mostly from North America and Europe, but a few from Africa, Australia and New Zealand, there are more than 190 species of this plant. Tiny sticky red hairs with what looks like water droplets along its tentacles attract insects and grasp and smother them. Keep the plant moist with bright light and use distilled, bottled or rain water.
For more information, visit www.flytraphelp.info and talk to your local garden center.
What plants do your kids like?