All plants are unique and wonderful in their own way, yet there are some plants that truly stand out.  Welcome to the wonderful world of Orchids, Bromeliads, and Carnivorous plants.  Whether it is Orchids or Bromeliads which stun with their exquisite flowers or perfect geometric designs, or Carnivorous plants which have managed to turn the tables on nature by trapping its own food.  These plants are viewed as collector plants although some have become very popular, such as the moth orchid.

Carnivorous plant
A Venus flytrap’s leaf colour helps to attract its prey

For me, the true wonder of these plants is their adaptability to a diverse range of habitats and environmental conditions. This they do through a combination of trickery, deceit and at times just plain genius. Take the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) that originate from the Carolina wetlands in the USA. Owing to the nutrient-poor soil of their native habitat they have evolved to trap their own prey. Luckily it is not the Little Shop of Horrors version, but a smaller ground-dwelling plant that at most is able to trap very small frogs and mammals but more often insects and arachnids. And who better than David Attenborough to explain how they survive?

Carnivorous plants

Venus flytraps aren’t the only plants that trap its prey for a living. Other carnivorous plants include Monkey cups (Nepenthes) and Drosera that grows naturally in wetlands – even here in South Africa.  Natural insect control doesn’t get any cooler than this. Growing a predator plant can seem tricky, yet they will flourish as long as you follow these basics:

Bromeliads and Air Plants

air plants
Bromeliads come in all shapes and sizes

These plants all belong the Bromeliaceae family of plants. They are mainly epiphytic – meaning they grow on other plants and survive by absorbing moisture through their leaves or by trapping rain in its urn like structure.  Yet there are species that grow on the ground (terrestrial) such as the pineapple plant.  They range in size from the small Spanish moss to the massive Queen of the Andes Bromeliad, which can grow up to 15m in height.  Some produce the most amazing flowers while others delight with striking leaf colours.  Growing Bromeliads are fun and easy as long as a few needs are catered after:

Orchids

Orchid Hecker plant
Amazing patterns of Moth orchids

Orchids are becoming more and more popular due to their amazing flowers that can last for months at a time.  One of Nature’s best tricksters, orchids have managed to gain a foothold on virtually any type of habitat mainly due to their amazing ability to adapt, as seen in this video:

Due to this great adaptability, one can imagine that orchids’ needs can be quite varied.  Luckily most of the Orchids commercially available are epiphytes that come from tropical environments. Here are some general tips on caring for these type of orchids. (Pop into Heckers where our orchid expert can advise you on your specific plant or have look at this comprehensive guide to orchid-care.)

These plants really show off Nature’s ability to change and adapt and caring for them is truly a rewarding experience. So why not try your hand at growing a living example of Nature’s resilience?

We are hosting an orchid and collectors plants fair at Heckers this weekend (25 & 26 November 2017).  See you there!

collector's plants

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