entertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorstudio choowe like it wild

we like it wild: terror-ium

by Grace Bonney

When we realized that we’d be doing a post so close to Halloween we decided to look for inspiration beyond a cleverly carved squash. We wanted to assemble an arrangement that embraced the darker, more macabre side of the holiday. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the terror-ium!

Right up the road from San Francisco, California Carnivores looks to be merely a little greenhouse off the main drag. Upon closer inspection we found the equivalent to a botanical bestiary: hundreds of little meat eaters all under one glassed roof. The grounds of this carnivorous plant farm are more like a B-movie set than greenhouse, decked out with plastic creepy-crawlies and vivisected vegetation. But don’t let the campy decor fool: proprietor Peter D’Amato is a serious guy. He’s a walking, talking encyclopedia of carnivorous knowledge, having written several voluminous books on the subject. He guided us through the selection of our plants and gave us all the information we needed to successfully raise our little ankle-biters for years to come.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Studio Choo’s Terror-ium post after the jump!

For our terror-ium we used four plants from California Carnivores: Pygmy Sundew, D. Capensis Narrow, S. Dana’s Delight, and Dionaea (Venus flytrap). Every continent except Antarctica has native carnivorous plants. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t grow exclusively in tropical areas. All of the plants we purchased can be raised anywhere with the right tools, and some even like the cold of winter so they can go into their required dormant period. They dine on small bugs and can usually find their own meals if left outside under proper conditions.

** We chose to remove our plants from their containers for a short-term presentation, This is NOT advised if you’re trying to grow carnivorous plants properly. This arrangement works for temporary display purposes, but to properly raise carnivorous plants each needs to be grown individually under specific conditions.

If you don’t want to use carnivorous plants this project could also be made equally creepy by using black or blood red flowers and foliage. We selected a unique glass bubble vase and started our terror-ium by adding a layer of wet dirt into the bottom. If you are planting for longer term you’ll want to put a layer of gravel and some charcoal on the bottom for drainage before you add the soil. The assembly process is pretty simple- we added in our largest plant first and built up around it with different types of small mosses and swampy grasses. We continued adding in plants until we had a full arrangement, including some swampy grasses peeking out to entice bugs inside this cozy lair.

Placing the terror-ium on a hallway table or other high-traffic area during a Halloween get-together will be sure to “wow” your guests. Just make sure that after the party has ended you get these fellows into a proper home where they can plant some roots, because you don’t want to see them when they’re angry.

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  • Just a quick note on Venus Fly Traps – never feed them actual meat. If your plant does not have access to natural meals (flies, etc.) then place a tiny amount of powdered milk in the trap once a month.

  • I purchased a venus fly trap from Paxton Gate and and some of the traps immediately started turning black. I’ve lost about 3 now–is it ok? I re-poted it and have been keeping water in a dish to keep it moist.

  • Oh my gosh! Thanks so much for this post! I had no idea this place existed and I love carnivore plants and happen to live right outside Sebastopol city limits! This place is practically in my backyard and I had no idea! P.S. Sebastopol is a must visit if you ever make it to Sonoma County. Awesome little hippie town. : )

  • hmmm…I have a Flytraps. It is barely hanging on. I really need to re-evaluate its living situation…

  • Some tips for venus flytraps:

    Traps turn black when the plant goes dormant in the winter. It should come back in the spring. It needs to get some exposure to cold (not frost) during the winter.

    Don’t repot without doing some research. It stresses the plant and you can’t just use regular potting soil. Flytraps bought from a store were specially grown in a lab and should be just fine left in their original pots.

    Keep the soil moist, but don’t leave the pot sitting in water.

    Use distilled water, not tap water.

  • I dont know why, but when I saw these terrariums I thought of the movie Practical Magic, I guess its because im in that halloween mood. Then I thought what a good Living In Practical Magic would make, with that cool greenhouse filled with witches ingredients, the old beautiful victorian house….just kinda fits with the venus fly traps I guess.

  • i’ll try to make one and put it in my room ~ totally cool … nice decoration for theliving room ~ i likt the first picture mostly !!

  • Wowsers! what a cool idea for this season of creepiness. I love this idea and may give it a go. My kids would really enjoy this too. Thanks from a brand new fan. xow.

  • The glass bubble vase is from a floral supply company- please contact us if you are interested in purchasing one! We’re not sure where else they are available to purchase online.

  • Hi! I love this, I have an eternal love affair with droseras but I spent $20 on one to get it shipped to where I live and it died in a matter of weeks. I put it in the wrong habitat. anyways I was curious to find out the species of the pitcher plant pictured here?

  • Raising carnivorous plants can be addicting. I’ve been doing it for years. and I love California Carnivores! For those of you with flytraps (and other types) that are not doing well, be aware you shouldn’t give them tap water. Use distilled or reverse-osmosis filtered. And also–they go dormant in winter. Keep them moist, put them somewhere cool, and they’ll come back next spring.

  • Saw this last fall and loved it!! I just found a local man at the flea market that grows a variety of carnivorious plants and I’m gonna attempt to make my own Terror-ium. Does anyone know wher I might be able to find the Glass Orb that is pictured here? Thanks

  • Flytraps need lots of light and have to be water with vary pure water, mineral free water like distilled, rain, or melted snow. They also require a winter dormancy like American pitcher plants. i grow pitcher plant and flytraps in a mini bog outside in NY. The sundews in the post are cape sundews that do not require a winter. oh and all of the plants that were posted prefer vary wet but flytraps might like a little less water.

  • I haven’t tried planting or having carnivorous plants. Maybe I should learn how to maintain it before having this kind of plant so that I would know how to take care of it. Perhaps I should check California Carnivores’ online store to know more about this kind of plant.

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