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Hope's Corner: Raising houseplants is a snap

"Over the years, I have shared a kitchen with various pitcher plants, sundews and Venus flytraps," writes Jackie Hope.

Jackie Hope BW.jpg
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. Hope's Corner is a weekly humorous column with a message of hope. (CONTRIBUTED / FOR THE DICKINSON PRESS)

Last week I adopted a Venus flytrap. Not as demanding as adopting a puppy, but more demanding than adopting a goldfish.

Over the years, I have shared a kitchen with various pitcher plants, sundews and Venus flytraps. I have encouraged them to eat spiders, flies and a strawberry milkshake – when there was nothing else available and edible.

I dripped a little bit of milkshake down a pitcher plant’s throat. Once. Bad idea for that particular pitcher. Good idea for the other carnivores in the pot, however, because the sticky milkshake attracted lots of insects.

Flytraps, in the wild, are found in bogs in the Carolinas. They are listed as vulnerable by many groups, and are protected in North and South Carolina, where their habitat is changing. They need lots of sun to thrive, and some varieties’ seeds need to be exposed to smoke from wildfires in order to germinate.

As humans’ communities grow, flytraps’ communities shrink. Today, flytraps in the wild live only in areas protected by the Nature Conservancy, the North Carolina government, and the U. S. military. Poaching is illegal.

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Well, my trap came from a reputable breeder, who probably had a thing for playing with fire. And, in fact, most greenhouse flytraps are cloned. This is so beginning to sound like Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Venus flytraps need 12 hours of sunlight per day, with 4 of those hours being in direct sunlight. I am in North Dakota in the winter. Nobody here gets 12 hours of sunlight. So 12 hours on the kitchen table, with sunlight and ceiling light, will have to do.

Venus flytraps need lots of moisture. Their little boggy bodies need to be hydrated. Mine is in a terrarium, which keeps it safe from our arid climate. Flytraps need to be watered, though. And not with just plain tap water, but with distilled water or rain water.

In theory, I should have distilled water for my steam iron. Also, in theory, I should iron things. Which would necessitate my buying distilled water. Instead, there are spiders living in my steam iron. Well, the spiders will be a tasty treat for the flytrap.

Rain water? Okay, so I dug into the iceberg in the front yard and scooped out snow for melting. Now I have a fruit jar full of melted snow in the refrigerator.

Flies. My “flytraps for dummies” directions said the plants naturally attract insects. Again, North Dakota in the winter. Luckily my flytrap is next to an amaryllis. Amaryllises are notoriously buggy, and mine seems to be a home for tiny black flying things.

Lo and behold, yesterday one of those tiny black flying things flew into a hole in the terrarium. During lunch one of the traps snapped shut. Yep. Trapper John is digesting his first meal at the table with me.

But he seems as alone as a Trappist monk. I need to find him an Audrey.

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Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.

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