Bog Garden Biodiversity

One of my main horticultural interests has been growing a wide variety of native bog orchids and their companion plants; I purchased my first plants of Calopogon tuberosus (Grass Pink) over 10 years ago and have propagated many since that time.  A few years after that a friend gave me a large starter collection of Sarracenia (Pitcher Plants); my enthusiasm for bog gardening was reinvigorated and my interest increased exponentially.   I soon realized about this type of gardening lends itself to cultivation of an astonishing range of plants using a relatively simple protocol. I do not have the luxury of owning property where I can establish permanent gardens and therefore cannot build more permanent bog gardens in the ground.  Therefore, all of my plants are cultivated in containers in a 50:50 silica (blasting sand):sphagnum peat medium that sit in trays that are filled with rain, distilled, or RO (reverse osmosis) water.  On this page it is my intention to discuss my table top bog garden, related types of "bog" gardening and to describe various cultural techniques and plant selections unique to this style of gardening.  This technique can be applied to a small collection of pitcher plants or can be used to cultivate rare native species that may be of conservation concern.

Here are some views of my collection

This is not just a collection of individual plants isolated from their neighbors in individual containers.  Many of these plants, such a Utricularia subulata, several Drosera species, and many more are relatively short lived plants that move back and forth between containers holding specimen plants.  I regularly spread seeds of several species throughout the collection to keep them going and increase their numbers.  Here you can also see the trays that the containers sit in.

All plants are grown in one of two different media.  The one I use most consists of a 50:50 blend of silica (blasting) sand and moistened sphagnum peat.  Here is the sand I use.  It comes from a local builder's supply store and is packaged in 50 lb. bags.  It is very important to use extreme caution when using this product as breathing in the dust can cause severe health problems.  Moistening the sand before use helps cut down on the dust.

This sand consists of small granules and is fine in texture

The sphagnum peat can be from any brand name supplier, but it always comes in these rectangular bales.

Here is the dry peat upon removal from the bale.  It requires moistening before it can be used.  It is best to let it soak for at least 24 hours before using.

This is Sarracenia x 'Ares', I think.  Whatever the name may be, this is a fantastically beautiful plants with very richly colored pitchers.

This is a form of Sarracenia flava var. ornata from the Florida panhandle.  This particular form is intermediate between S. flava var. ornata and S. flava var. rubricorpa.

Sarracenia xcatesbaei 'John Smith'  from Meadowview Biological Research Station. Absolutely stunning.  This unique hybrid displays rich red and yellow tones that are quite unlike anything else in my collection.  The flowers are small and a dingy reddish-pink in color and the plant is slow-growing, but I still consider this one of best in my collection.  This plants was a tiny division when I received it and has now made a nice clump after 3 years.

Sarracenia xcatesbaei 'Red Rocket' from Meadowview.  This is another fantastic clone.  The pitchers will continue to deepen in color as the summer heat and sun intensity increase.  Like other S. xcatesbaei clones I find this to be a relatively slow grower.

This is Sarracenia xcatesbaei 'Horizon' and is also from Meadowview.  Another beautiful and unique plants that is larger than other S. xcatesbaei clones.  Just as a side note, I am referring to these clones as S. xcatesbaei, but in reality they may represent individuals from complex hybrid swarms that have varying degrees of either parent species, S. flava, S. purpurea ssp. venosa or S. rosea.  Sarracenia 'Horizon' shows a definite phenotypic affinity to S. flava, but the shape and height of the of the pitchers in a addition to their coppery-pink hue suggest hybridization.

The reverse of Sarracenia xcatesbaei 'Horizon'

The vibrantly colored Sarracenia xmoorei 'Leah Wilkerson' selected from a wild population in the Florida Panhandle

This is an Ohio form of Calopogon tuberoses with exceptional coloration.  This easy to grow plant is also one of the easiest native terrestrial orchid species to grow from seed.  In this regard, it behaves more like a tropical, epiphytic orchid species...much easier!

Calopogon tuberosus f. albiflorus.  I have been growing this for years, finding it particularly robust and prolific under my conditions.

The flowers of Dionaea muscipula, the Venus fly trap.  This is an easy to grow seed strain from Meadowview forms very large plants in a short period of time.  


  1. Great looking plants Peter, I've grown Sarracenia and Drosera for years here in the UK but never seen the accompanying orchids which are wonderful. I'll have to track some down and try them out.


    Here's a link to photos of some of my plants -

  2. Hi Phil-

    Thanks for your kind comments about my blog/plant collection. And thanks for sharing the link to your sites...excellent collection and photography. It looks like you grow many rare and exotic plants.

    Probably the best thing about the bog orchids is how easy many of them are to grow. Over the past couple of years I have noticed several self sown seedlings of Calopogon, Pogonia, and Spiranthes odorata. I even noticed a self sown seedling of the white Calopogon!