Introduction To Bladderworts / Utricularia:
The largest genus in the Family, the bladderwort is truly an oddity is there is to be one in the CP world. There are well over 200 species of these plants that range just about all over the world. From Alaska ( US ) to Africa and beyond. They have been found to live in almost every climate ( freezing, dry, wetland, jungles ). There are annuals that die off, and perennials that will go dormant and come back under better conditions.
The beauty of these plants is left to the beautiful almost Orchid like flowers. Many will collect these for that reason; while others feel that this is an underappreciated plant that is in need of attention ( I will opt for some of both ).
Many orchid growers will also have a small collection of Utrics (affectionately referred to by some ).
The colors of the flowers will range all over the spectrum. Yellows, Purples, Red, and Whites.
These plants are broken down into a couple of groups: Aquatic, Terrestrial, Tropical, and Annuals ( or Seasonal by some ).
As with all carnivorous plants, it is recommended that you only provide you plants with Rain or Reverse Osmosis Water. Tap, Drinking, Purified, Mineral and Bottled will often contain salts ( sometimes not on the label ) chemicals and other minerals that can be harmful for the plant.
Growing Various Types of Bladderwort plants:
Terrestrial: It is an undrained container or tray method will work best.
Tropical: A drained container is good for these plants. In the wild many of these will be found in the Caribbean, and South America. Some of these plants are Epiphytic ( meaning that they grow on mosses and trees, not in soil )
Seasonal: Mainly from Australia, these plants will do best with the tray method. During the summer many of these will dry out, thus a semi-dormant period.
Aquatic: These plants will always need a constant source of water. An undrained container will be the best for these plants.
All of these plants for the most part can take partly sunny to sunny conditions. With more lighting, flowering will actually start to happen more frequently. These are great candidates for Bog gardens ( which many already grow in ) or windowsills (believe it or not ).
Temperatures for these plants should range in the 60’s to 80’s. Some will go dormant when the temperatures get so hot it dries out the soil. Depending on the dormancy requirements for your species, it is safe to remain in temperatures that are mild and not too hot ( unless otherwise noted ).
Food & Feeding
All Utricularia will feed on fungus gnat larvae mosquito larvae, and really anything that is small enough to make the mistake of swimming or crawling around the bladders. For this reason ( along with others ) this is a great plant to have in your bog garden. Especially with standing water, they will help to control mosquitoes.
These plants will surprisingly take a mild ( ¼ strength ) spraying or Miracid ® monthly. They will appreciate the extra boost during their growing season. It is not recommended to this during their dormant or resting periods.
As with most Australian species of CP’s it is not recommended currently to fertilize these species.
Many of them are just now entering into cultivation, so things for this might change in the future.
Tropical: These plants will benefit the most from a soil that consists of:
1 part peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part orchid bark
Many of these plants can be found growing on trees and mossy cliffs. So for that you can add to your mixture 1 part Long Fiber Moss.
Terrestrial: These can be found just about any and everywhere. Bogs, wetlands, and muddy fields. For this reason you can simply use:
1 part perlite ( or sand )
1 part peat moss
If you are using sand, be sure to use something that does not have a sodium content. Silica sand will be the best.
You can also make your mix heavier on the sandy side than the peaty side if desired. Either way should work nicely for these plants.
Seasonal: Being that these plants are mostly native to Australia, a good soil mixture will be:
1 part peat moss
1 part sand ( Silica )
This appears to be the same mix as the Terrestrial Utric.
Aquatic: These plants are grown similar to Aldrovanda. In the wild they are found in shallow ponds. Many of which have a high acidity content to them. For this reason you would add peat moss to the water. That should help out with acidity that they need. Fertilizers can also help with this. ( mentioned above ).
For some of these plants, dormancy is a requirement and for others it will simply happen if the temperatures fall below a certain range.
Aquatic: When water/climate temps are cooler, these plants will form winter buds ( called turions ). Some will not go dormant and even more amazing is the fact that some can take a freeze!!
Tropical: No dormancy is required. Although some will appear to go dormant in the event of a drought. However, they will simply go underground in a tuber form.
Terrestrial: Some are tolerant of light frosts. Dormancy isn’t an issue with these plants.
Seasonal: These are mainly from Australia and are dormant during their dry season. Many are actually annuals and will die off only to be brought back by the seed that has been made.
- There are many easy species to grow of Utrics and finding one that will suit your needs shouldn’t be hard.
- It is important to read up on which one you would like to find, because many are very evasive growers and will take over containers and gardens quickly. Thinning out your collection will help control this.
- Many people have reported great success with using terrariums for these plants, or adding them to their already established terrariums. Just be careful of sprawling nature of some of these plants.
Additional information & Links:
- USGS website on Bladderworts
- Montana Field Guide
- CP Resource – Bladderwort
- Video of Bladderwort in action (slow motion)