Episode 94: carnivorous plants with Peter D'Amato (part two)

Come on in… California Carnivores nursery. Photograph:  Orin Zebest  on  Flickr .

Come on in… California Carnivores nursery. Photograph: Orin Zebest on Flickr.

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In the second part of my interview with Peter D’Amato, founder of the nursery California Carnivores, I get Peter to answer listener questions about Nepenthes, discuss the weird world of naming carnivorous plant species and cultivars, and find out about a very unusual side project Peter has been working on.

If you missed part one, do go back and listen here! Then come back and check out the links below as you listen. Oh, and thanks to listener June for telling me about another UK climate-hardy spider plant, Chlorophytum krookianum, which is available from UK nursery Cotswold Garden Flowers.

Dionea ‘Red Dragon’. Photograph:  athenerafie  on  Flickr .

Dionea ‘Red Dragon’. Photograph: athenerafie on Flickr.

Question of the week

Quite a reach: is this umbrella plant repottable?

Quite a reach: is this umbrella plant repottable?

Rebekah has been put in charge of the houseplants in the cafe where she works - she’s managed to repot the peace lily and dracaena but a big umbrella plant is causing her concern. It’s not taking in water - it just runs through - and she thinks it’s too big to repot.

I suspect the plant is rootbound - there’s probably such a mass of roots in the pot that the soil has become hydrophobic (water-repelling) so is unable to absorb moisture. Ideally this plant needs repotting: I suggest Rekekah gets a tarp and a friend and tries getting the plant out of its pot, trimming the roots, then repotting (back into the same pot if necessary) with fresh houseplant potting mix. Trimming the roots will put the plant out of balance, so some of the branches will need removing too - ideally the most spindly and wayward ones! Then leave the pot in a tray of water overnight to suck up lots of moisture.

If repotting really isn’t an option, the best way forward is to scrape away as much soil from around the top of the pot as possible, to a depth of at least 5cm, being careful not to damage the roots. Then using a chopstick or similar, poke holes into the rootball of the plant, allowing more air in. Trim any roots coming from the bottom of the pot, top up the pot with fresh houseplant potting mix, and then leave the pot in a tray of water as above.

Good luck Rebekah, let me know how it goes!

Want to ask me a question about your plant? Either way, tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.


True Leaf Market


This week’s On The Ledge is supported by True Leaf Market, the indoor and outdoor growing experts. 

True Leaf Market are the indoor and outdoor growing experts, chosen by more than half a million customers for their seed and gardening needs. They offer a great range of plant seeds, from houseplants like the polka dot plant and the asparagus fern - perfect for the On The Ledge sowalong! - to veg and flowers to grow outdoors. 


And when it comes to kits for growing microgreens, wheatgrass and sprouting seeds, True Leaf Market’s range of starter kits will provide everything you need to get started. And all their products come with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so Ik now you won’t  be disappointed. 

Use coupon code ONTHELEDGE to get 10% off your purchase at trueleafmarket.com now.

Growth Technology


The podcast is also supported this week by Growth Technology, the nutrient company that helps your houseplants thrive.

Growth Technology’s extensive ‘Focus’ range of plant-specific fertilisers contains all the nutrients your plants need, in just the right amounts - including magnesium and calcium. If you’re struggling to keep air plants, happy, try Growth Technology’s AirPlant Myst, which helps give your Tillandsias the moisture and the nutrients they need in a hassle-free spray bottle.

Visit Growth Technology’s website focus-on-plants.com for loads of great houseplant advice on everything from repotting orchids to keeping palms happy.

You’ll find growth technology’s products available online and in many good garden centres and nurseries across the UK: find stockists here.


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This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops and Overthrown by Josh Woodward. Ad music tracks are Dill Pickles and Whistling Rufus by the Heftone Banjo Orchestra: All tracks licensed under Creative Commons. Logo design by Jacqueline Colley. Podcast editing by Joff Elphick