A plant in your garden that eats mosquitoes!

04 Mar, 2017 18:37:45

Having a moneyplant or a cactus in your verandah is so predictable. More and more plant lovers are waking up to a more exciting — if bizarre — gardening option. Welcome to the world of carnivorous plants, which you've probably read about in school. Now, nurseries are selling them by the dozen to enthusiastic gardeners. They need little care, have to be watered from time to time and can catch their own prey for food. So, how's that for a hassle-free pet?

Non-boring plants: A MBA student Riddhi Purohit was never much into plants that her mother keeps. When her mother travels, Riddhi has to look after them. It's a chore she used to hate till her mother finally got a pitcher plant. "I have kept it in my living room, and my cousins and friends spend hours looking at the plant devouring mosquitoes. It's a lot of fun!" she exclaims.

Shaan Lalwani, who breeds and sells these plants out of his nursery, says he has seen a spurt in the number of people looking for these exotic plants. "I've been keeping these plants for years. But in the past few years, because of social media platforms, a lot of young people are being drawn into gardening. And they want cool plants like the Venus flytrap, pitcher plant and Dutchman's pipe that look cool. And for a beginner, what could be better than a plant that you can see catching its prey?"

Usability: Another reason for the popularity of these plants is the fact that they tend to attract bugs and mosquitoes and as result, keep your home naturally pest-free. Dr Rushabh Parikh, who owns six of these plants, remembers that he first got one out of curiosity — he had read about these plants in his biology class. "I never thought I could get one of these, but when I was buying some plants and inquired at the nursery about interesting plants, they offered me the beautiful Venus flytrap and pitcher plant," he says about the plants that now adorn his window sill.

Care: Caring for carnivorous plants is easy. Eshan Bhardwaj, who runs a nursery and sends plants by mail order, says these are robust plants and even when he sends them via mail to customers in different cities, they last for at least five days. Lalwani feels the same. "While these plants may seem delicate, all they need is adequate water and light, and they will thrive." He cites the example of the Dutchman's pipe. "If you have a bungalow, you can just plant them around the lawns and walls. They will climb like a vine and reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home."

Care:They prefer a humid environment, hence an indoor space with shade and mild sunlight is ideal

Hunting mechanism: They secrete mucus on their leaves and trap small insects

Pitcher Plant

Care: They are hardy plants and need to be watered regularly and kept out of very harsh sunlight

Hunting mechanism: They have a trapping mechanism with which they lure insects inside the pitcher, which contains digestive enzymes to consume the prey

Venus Flytrap Care: Minimum. Just place it in a tray of water and water it additionally every day.

Hunting mechanism: Whenever a fly triggers the tiny hairs, the wide fleshy leaves snap shut, trapping the fly.

Sarasenia Care: Needs a humid environment as it is found in coastal regions.

Hunting mechanism: It has a translucent overleaf and the edge of the pitcher produces nectar to lure prey. It also has fine hairs that form the trap for the insect.

Dutchman's Pipe

Care: They are a vine and require minimal care.

Hunting mechanism: Its huge flowers resemble pitcher plants and attract prey that it uses to pollinate and prey on.

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