Outdoor ponds attract bugs, which is an advantageous feature for carnivorous plants. These insectivores add a touch of the exotic to your water sculpture or bog garden. Their digestive habits are fascinating and their appearance is stunning. Plant them all around your pond or in floating planter pots for an attractive garden that'll let you retire the bug zapper or at least downgrade it to part-time duty.
Venus Fly Traps
Dionaea musicpula uses a sweet-smelling nectar to lure insects into its reach. When bugs fly too close or even land on one of the oyster-shell-shaped leaves, they brush small hairs which trigger the plant's lightning-fast reflex. The leaves snap shut, trapping the insect. Secreted enzymes will slowly digest it.
The Venus fly trap is native to North and South Carolina. In addition to a healthy supply of bugs, which your pond will attract, they require water with a neutral pH. Rain is perfect; you can also use distilled water or reverse osmosis water.
Genus Sarracenia presents unwary insects with a pitfall trap. The leaves grow folded together, resembling the vessel for which the plant is commonly named. The pitcher opening often visually mimics other flowers which flies find attractive. Another attractant is the putrid odor, as of decaying prey, which the plants emit in the summer. And the outer edge of the folded leaf produces a nectar-like liquid that attracts ants. Once bugs give in to the lure and enter the pitcher, they rarely manage to scale its slippery walls. Instead, they fall into the reservoir of acids to be digested.
Ten species are currently listed as inhabiting boggy eastern regions of the North American continent. They host blowfies, who as larva help eat the decaying prey and as adults drink the nectar and pollinate the plant. Mosquito larva also develop inside the pitcher. Small frogs wait nearby to snag bugs before the plants can trap them.
Genus Drosera is living flypaper. Like the venus fly trap, the sundew encloses flies in order to digest them, but with a much slower motion. Sticky, glistening hairs first immobilize and then, over several days, digest prey with enzyme secretions.
Sundews thrive in boggy environments but also tolerate sandy banks and other mineral soils lacking the nitrogen and phosphorus that most plants need.
Genus Pinguicula, like the sundew, creates a sticky flypaper-like trap. But this time the trap is on the leaves, which are covered in a greasy mucous to which insects get stuck. The same substance contains digestive enzymes to break down bugs' bodies.
Grow Pinguicula lutea on drier ground surrounding your pond. Pinguicula planifolia may be grown closer to the water, as they require wetter conditions and can survive submerged for long periods of time.