N. khasiana: common, easy, good beginner's plant. N. tentaculata: very small, straggler, beautiful spotted pitchers. N. alata: small, easy, some forms with subtle shades.
Although widely distributed throughout the world, this large genus of carnivorous plants is virtually unknown except to specialists. There are probably several reasons: the plants and often the flowers are rather small; they are always found in very wet areas or in water and are often quite difficult to locate, their size again not helping here; and the process of capturing prey is only visible with the aid of specialized photography and, even when the action is slowed, is completed in a fraction of a second.
The traps, unlike those of the majority of carnivorous plants, are not obviously modified leaves but small sacs produced on the thin stems or stolons that make up the bulk of the plant. These bladders are kept relatively empty of water and have a trap door with an accompanying trigger hair. The slightest movement of the trigger causes the door to snap open and water is then free to rush in and fill the partial vacuum in the bladder, carrying with it any passing creature, including hopefully the creature that triggered the reaction. The trap door then shuts and the bladder becomes a stomach into which digestive juices are emptied. Even if it already contains a meal, the trap can work again as soon as the internal pressure is reduced by pumping water out.
The plant usually consists of minute leaves attached to a creeping stem or stolon, although in a few species, notably the South American tree-dwelling ones, the leaves are up to 6 in. (15 cm) long. The small flowers, often produced unpredictably, are delightful and fascinating. Bladderworts do not have roots, the function of absorbing food from the soil having been replaced by an efficient trapping process. They grow only where water is permanently or seasonally abundant. Terrestrial species inhabit bogs or wet savannah; epiphytic (tree-dwelling) species obtain sufficient moisture from the humid air of tropical rain or cloud forests and the occasional downpour of torrential rain; and aquatic species float on or grow under the water. Where the supply of water is seasonal, they either survive the drought as tubers or grow as annuals.
Of the aquatic L/tricularia, only a few are hardy. They all succumb to attack by fish and snails and become quickly overgrown with algae unless precautions are taken. Either they should be grown in very strongly acid conditions, in which algae, fish and snails cannot survive, or sufficient plant cover, such as water lilies and duckweed, should be provided to prevent algae growth. Resting buds are formed at the bottom of the pond to overwinter.
17. intermedia and several other species enjoy very shallow water up to lin. (2.5 cm) deep and will creep out on to wet peat. Most non-aquatic species should be kept permanently wet, using shallow pots or trays of compost and standing these in water all year. V. reni/ormis, a large South American species, is liable to rot if kept wet, but must not be allowed to dry out. The commonly available species, apart from the hardy ones, will generally grow well if temperatures are maintained above 50°F (10°C) all year. Compost: A, for LJ. sandersoni and most non-aquatic species; D, for U. longifolia, U.praelonga, U. calycifida; B, for 17. reni/ormis. Temperature: 50°F (10°C) minimum for tender species; cool summer and exposure to frost for hardy species.
By division; even the smallest piece should grow well if kept moist. Some grow from seed easily, but a few such as U. subulata and 17. bisquamata [U. capensis) are fairly invasive and for this reason should be isolated from others.
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