Lighting

Next consideration for your plants is adequate light. Since carnivorous plants range in their requirements from partial or semi-sun to nearly full sun, don't decide to put them in a bright southern exposure window. You can fool yourself and harm them. That rule holds for house plants and terrariums too.

Bright sun for many hours each day will pour through that southern window. Sit in front of it and see how hot it gets. If plants are inside of glass or plastic, even an open container, the heat inside builds up. It becomes too hot for plants. You don't like it ultra hot —neither do your plants.

A good rule of thumb is that plants enjoy temperature ranges which are pleasant for us. East or west windows or a distance away from the southern exposure window is better. Another factor comes into play. In fall and winter and at times in early spring, cold drafts blow through those windows. Plants can stand some temperature extremes but icy drafts should be avoided.

In greenhouses or larger indoor terrariums for which you provide supplemental light, plants will thrive at 6o° to 8o° F. At higher temperatures they tend to dry.

There are exotic tropical carnivorous plants, like nepenthes, that you might assume prefer the hotter temperatures, bright sun, and other conditions you equate with the equator. Not quite so.

True, those tropical plants can take a bit more heat. But remember, many are native to the lower stories of those tropical forests, as others are to the floor of North American forests and fields. They are protected by taller trees, shrubs, vines. The same is true with flytraps, sundews, and pitcher plants. Many are partially shielded by brush, grass, wild flowers and weeds.

I will point out in other parts of the book that sunlight is an important factor in helping plants attain their best colors. But sun light and sun heat are different. So is the drying-out process caused by overheating plants.

Your carnivorous plants will take on their best natural colors when given the natural sun that comes through those eastern and western exposure windows 6 to 10 hours each day. If you can't provide the natural light, you certainly can supplement it or even replace it artificially. That wasn't so true ten years ago.

Today, the Dura-Test fluorescent bulbs, sold as Vita-Lites, Natur-escent lights, Sylvania's Gro-Lux, and several others are efficient. They have been developed to duplicate as close as possible the plant growth stimulating spectrum of light of the real sun. Even the newer Plant Lites, which fit into regular sockets, provide a substitute sun for plants in darker indoor areas at home or school.

Some experiments with lights are suggested in our chapter of study projects. In general, a twin-tube, 4-foot fluorescent fixture, suspended 18 inches over your plants, will produce satisfactory results indoors with any other light source. Run it 10 to 12 hours each day.

Under this completely artificial light source, flytraps turn their typical reddish color, sundews brighten, butterworts gain more yellow hues. The pitcher plants reveal their potential for coloration of reds, violets, and purples in their veins. Flowers especially show off more vividly under these new type supplemental lights or even when they are used as total sun substitutes.

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