Painting New Plants

Who is a painter? A painter is someone compelled to lay color on canvas. I am a painter. My palette is bold, of different shapes and sizes, and, happens to consume insects.

Sarracenia (oreophila x Adrian Slack) x Helen Mary - a 2020 cross

It can be a rather restrictive medium to work in, and oftentimes the plants make decisions for us. This can stall best laid plans, or allow time to reconsider direction altogether. It also teaches patience and humility, and brings many surprises along with it. 

You may think painting is just a clever analogy I came up with to illustrate carnivorous plant breeding, yet I mean it in a very literal sense. Many carnivorous plant growers use paint brushes or a similar applicator to transfer pollen from one plant to the stigma of another. Each spring, the oddly beautiful, umbrella shaped flowers of Sarracenia pitcher plants emerge, and my work begins. 

"What if I pair a tall, spring dominant green plant with a mid-height, fall dominant red and white plant?" "How can I get a vertically held lid usually seen on short plants to flare out on a very tall plant?" This is the world of potential. The time leading up to spring blooms is for imagination. My focus in the past has been early, colorful, and tall plants for the Pacific Northwest growing conditions. Through the knowledge passed to me from pioneering Sarracenia growers, and trial and error with my own plants, I have found a rhythm to paint these new plants. 

Seedgrown species- Sarracenia leucophylla

Species Seed

Sarracenia species have a diversity of appearance over their natural range, and specific populations can be crossed within or between locations for outstanding, and usually consistent results.

A primary hybrid of Sarracenia leucophylla x oreophila. 5 months from germination

Primary and Poly Hybrids

Often, crossing two species together results in a 50/50 blend of parent traits in the initial offspring. Sarracenia hybrids are also fertile and can be crossed amongst each other, or back to species. This is the key to unlimited possibilities. Poly hybrids incorporate more than two species in their genetic background. The resulting seedlings can be a mixed bag, where only a few stand out. This means I have to pick these crosses more carefully, since space is at a premium for evaluation.

Complex Hybrid Case Study: (leucophylla Purple Lips x flava ornata) x (oreophila x Adrian Slack)

Pod Parent - leucophylla Purple Lips x flava ornata

Pollen donor - oreophila x Adrian Slack

Resulting seedlings at 5 months old.

The thought process here was to generate big plants with a solid purple lip (pod parent traits), and an elegant shape with tall column holding the lid (pollen donor traits). The pollen donor is also quite hardy, vigorous, and a proven breeder in my hands.

 Concluding Remarks

My drive is to build on the outstanding colors and shapes inspired by the pioneering growers before me. This entails breeding and distributing novel, horticulturally desirable plants in order to pivot general perception from niche cult status to ornamental marvels, rivaling the beauty of orchids.

Seedgrown Venus Flytraps. Flytraps are considered a single species, but there is much diversity to work with here as well. These are from particularly giant parents: B52 x G16.


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