Lots of carnivorous plant enthusiasts flirt with the idea of creating a bog garden. They look great, grow and change over time and above all, they host lots of interesting and beautiful carnivorous plants. So here’s some tips to help you create a beautiful and unique garden that will make people jealous!
If you’ve ever taken the steps towards making a bog garden you’ll realize it’s a lot harder than digging a hole and filling it in with carnivorous plant potting mix. Why? Well because nutrients from the earth quickly infiltrate the carnivorous plant mix. When it rains nutrients are washed in. When the wind blows nutrients are deposited on top. And all the time nutrients seep up from underneath.
Lots of carnivorous plants grow in areas called ombrotrophic bogs. These areas were formed in the last ice age. Theyare completely hydrologically isolated. No nutrients seep up from below. No nutrients are washed in from the rain. You can think of an ombrotrophic bog as like a swimming pool. Your swimming pool doesn’t turn brown from run off when it rains (or at least it I hope it doesn’t), nor should a carnivorous plant bog.
Common ways of replicating an ombrotrophic bog at home include using polystyrene boxes, kids pools and fiberglass ponds dug into the ground. You can also consider creating a raised bog garden. The same materials used below ground can also look amazing above the ground too.
What ever method you choose, there are some common gotchas that continually catch people out. First make sure the bog is deep enough. Carnivorous plant bogs are full of deep peat based sandy soils. They need to be able to withstand flooding and give enough depth for roots to burrow deep into the bog. A bog should ideally be at least 50-60cm deep. But really, the deeper the better.
The second gotcha is where to place the bog. Lots of people assume building bogs in lower ground is best. Carnivorous plant bogs build with this logic may very well have a fatal design flaw. It increases the chance of nutrient pollution and inundation with garden soil. Higher ground or at very least flat ground is best in our case. A fun fact, pocasin is the term used by Eastern Algonquian indigenous people to describe the type of bog we are building. In English, the term roughly translates to swamp-on-a-hill.
The last common mistake is not leaving enough of a rise between the earth and the bog. Make sure your normal garden soil can’t just wash into your bog. Nothing will kill your carnivorous plants quicker than normal garden soil.
Plant your bog sparingly. Your bog plants will multiply and expand over time. An over planted bog starts to look tired really quickly. In time it will become necessary to transplant, divide and thin plants from your bog too.
When choosing locations for your plants in the bog choose where the front of the bog is going to be. Plant your plants from back to front with taller plants being planted at the back. It’s no good having the most amazing patch of Dionaea if they’re completely obscured and surrounded by Sarracenia and can’t be seen.Taking plant height into consideration also helps make sure all of your plants get access to the light they need.
When it comes to watering your bog, the same rules as any carnivorous plant apply. Use the right water and keep water which is not safe well away. In summer you should artificially flood your bog to imitate natural habitat and weather conditions. This will create a hot and humid environment you plants will thrive in
If you’ve created a bog garden, let us know how you decided to do it or share some tips with everyone.