In June I traveled to the coast with a visiting friend. While hiking at the Carolina Beach State Park, we ran into a local who asked if we had seen any carnivorous plants during our hike. Venus flytraps are endemic to the area, but they are threatened due to poaching. We hadn’t seen any yet. He suggested we check out what he described as “the carnivorous plants near Whole Foods.” We were only there for a day trip and still had plans to swim in the ocean, so at first we didn’t pay much attention to his vague directions. Later in the day, we decided to check it out anyway - after a Google hunt, we discovered the place he was talking about, the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden. It was an whimsical little garden tucked away behind an elementary school, lush with a variety of carnivorous plants. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the Wilmington, NC, area.
I thought I would share a look inside my carnivorous plant terrarium! Among these species are various Nepenthes, Heliamphora, some Utricularia, Drosera, and some non-carnivorous Tillandsia (Air Plants). Enjoy plant enthusiasts of Tumblr!
Strong reminder that cacti should NOT be wild collected
I’ll be grabbing some articles in a separate set of posts for better weight but till then I’m gonna start with this post here;
When people hear about plants that are poached by plant collectors to the point of being endangered/extinct we hear plants like orchid species, carnivorous plants like venus fly traps, sundews, and pitcher plants. One that gets thrown under the bus and forgotten in that word of warning though it always tends to be the succulents and especially the cacti.
Cacti are thought of as these plants that are utterly indestructible, taking on environments that many other plants cannot. This is true but it often comes at a price; most grow/reproduce super slowly in the wild and can take years just to reach sexual maturity, making them particularly vulnerable when mature plants are taken from their habitat and brought into horticulture. Also like other wild collected plants, there comes a huge risk of either bringing pests/diseases into domestic plant collections (via the poached plants) or making the collected plants all the rarer by killing them off from the pests/diseases that already exist in plant collections.
Except in extremely specific circumstances (a habitat being destroyed for urbanization/agriculture being one of those cases) cacti should not be taken from the wild, nor should they be purchased from sources which encourage the collecting of wild cacti. Leave wild cacti alone and enjoy/admire them from afar, and instead support responsible horticulturalists that sell cacti propagated from nursery stock (which do so from seed and/or cuttings). They may be smaller than their wild counterparts due to the difference in age, but they will reach that magnificent size with time, and will at least make sure that such old plants still exist in the wild in the first place.
So maybe you’re a college witch with limited space and money, limited to the one window in your dorm. Or, maybe you’re a witch without extensive backyard space who wants to start up a magical garden. Perhaps you’re a kitchen witch who wants the freshest herbs right at her fingertips.
For many witches, having a garden seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. After all, plants and magic go hand-in-hand. Plus, when thinking of a witch, it’s hard not to think of a cottage in the woods with a little vegetable garden out front. Unfortunately for the majority of us, our cottage in the woods is a tiny flat, and our garden out front is a windowsill with limited space.
This is when it comes time to embrace your craftiness and bring your garden indoors! Not only does it place your garden in a convenient location, it also allows you to freshen the air, recycle what would otherwise harm the earth, and embrace your witchy green thumb!
Gardening for Your Familiar
This past weekend, I went to one of my coven sisters’ place to run a game of Dungeons and Dragons. This in itself isn’t that unusual - I usually play about a game a week, and every other week is held at her place. However, she is definitely a witch who spends plenty of time both in the garden and in the kitchen! A fellow animal lover, with three cats and a couple of dogs, it’s always enjoyable to visit. What surprised me, though was an addition to her home’s normal features: a little garden close to the ground meant for her cats!
Whether a college witch or a witch who’d been practicing for a long time, it’s fair to say that many of us - dare I say that perhaps most of us - have dogs, cats, or some other kind of pet. And while there are plenty of spells out there for familiars and pets, it’s rare that I see spells focusing on gardens for them. So of course, my sister’s garden is featured this week, because it is absolutely brilliant!
A simple project, done in the same way you would any container garden, consider growing plants that your furry friends can safely consume. Where the magic comes in is the intent with which you grow your plants and with which you pot them. The example above makes use of cat grass, catnip, mint (which the kitties love to rub up against), cilantro, and parsley.
But let’s take it a step further, as there are plenty of other animals out there!
Aquatic Gardens: Just like with terrestrial pets and plants, live plants can be added to an aquarium with care. Not only do they breathe new life into your fishes’ home, but they help oxygenate the water and depending on the species of plant and fish in the environment, could provide a food source. Sometimes the plant itself is the pet, as in the case of marimo moss balls!
Terrarium Gardens: In the past, I’ve mentioned bottled gardens and terrarium gardens. Whether reptile or amphibian, plants can help provide a more natural surface for climbing, can provide a food source for herbivorous friends, and - as before - help bring more life to the terrarium!
Formicarium Gardens?: Admittedly, not everyone has a colony of ants as a domestic pet. But as with any animal, ants require care and maintenance, and a proper formicarium usually has a larger area for foraging. Though the ants will be healthy with a steady supply of feeder insects and sugars, adding plants will not only make the “outworld” a more aesthetically pleasing environment, but a more diverse one for the colony as well. In addition, ants have been known to tend to plants, harvesting sap and nectars while also keeping the plant nourished and maintained. Take it a step further by adding pitcher plants - a plant that could easily be a pet itself - which not only help control the colony population, but also promote a mutual relationship with ants (the plant offers nectar to the ants from its inactive pitchers, and while it does “eat” ants, the ants will still take care of the pitcher for the sake of the nectar).
Bringing it Outside: Some of us count horses and other outdoor animals as pets. The same principle applies - set aside a box garden specifically to help nourish your friends and bring some joy to the stable. Similarly, if you don’t have any pets, you could set up a garden to encourage wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see beautiful flower gardens for hummingbirds, fruit trees and berry bushes to encourage wild birds to visit, and gardens set off to the side specifically for deer.
What This Brings to a Witch
Part of being a witch or of being pagan is nurturing a relationship with nature. There are many ways of doing this, from adopting an organic lifestyle to assisting in conservation efforts, to even learning how to forage and to recognize various plants. But it goes without saying that pets, plants, and animals can all do much to help us learn about our role in the world. They teach us how to be ourselves, how to live in the moment. Even the ants in a formicarium can teach us about how to naturally be efficient and productive.
This in itself is magical. It’s a natural spell that is meant to enliven the spirit and while it does do quite a bit to make the animals in our lives happy and healthy (even more so when planted and grown with intent), it also turns around and gives us the very same blessing.
Grow your garden, and tend to it and your animal friends with love, and they will teach you far more than you may realize!
Native to the montane forests of Northen Sumatra, (typically 1800 - 2100 metres above sea level) N. jamban is distinct among Nepenthes in its particularly infundibular (funnel shaped) pitchers and its narrow operculum containing 20 - 30 visible glands concentrated at its apex. (glands not visible in these photos.
Top left is a terrestrial pitcher while top right and bottom are upper pitchers. (a particular Nepenthes species’pitchers size and shape is usually affected by whether or not a pitcher is close to or on the ground or attatched to the climbing vine and therefore elevated. Lower pitchers tend to be larger, wider and more colourful while upper pitchers are more slender and less colourful, FYI. :))