Calliope Hummingbirds

The last of the hummingbirdsare passing through my backyard this month. I happened to Calliope hummingbird & rosemar-05_edited-1get a couple of great shots of some tiny, charming female calliopes buzzing around my rosemary plants. Because the rosemary is in a planter on deck railing, the photos are looking up slightly at the hummers.

I love to watch hummingbirds (Eyelashes and Hummingbirds, Hungry Hummer Can’t Wait), and calliopes are some of my favorites.

Calliope hummingbird & rosemar-09_edited-1

Calliopes breed in the Pacific Northwest, and winter in Mexico; there are no reported calliope nests in Colorado. That means that my backyard is just a pit stop in their travels.

Calliope hummingbird & rosemar-03_edited-1

According to Birds of North America (Birds of North America), calliope hummingbirds are the smallest migrating birds in the world.

Calliope hummingbird & rosemar-14

Safe travels, little ones!

How to keep carnivorous plants alive in the office

How to keep Sticky Plants Alive
Keep the soil wet.
Use only distilled or rain water.
Plant only in coconut coir or sphagnum moss for soil.
Give lots of light.

Problems for Office Plants
The biggest problem that I’m seeing with the carnivorous plants brought back to me is

Image

The white powder in the middle of the picture is salt build-up.

that they have a little bit of salt build-up. Just a little salt can be fatal to bog plants.
You should suspect salt of being a problem if you see white powdery build up on the sides of the pot, or soil surface; or if you see that the leaves of the sundew are dying back about half-way.

Image

The leaves ends are brown. This is a symptom of salt build-up.

For house plants, salts come from one of two places: potting soil or water. Since I have planted the sundews in coconut coir with no rock particles in it, no salts are coming from the soil. That leaves the water.
Water picks up salts from rocks and the soil and moves them around. Tap, well, and spring water all have dissolved salts in it. Only rain water or distilled water are completely salt-free. You can buy distilled water in a jug at the supermarket on the bottled water aisle.
The other problem that you might see is that the sundews aren’t getting enough light.  You can tell that a plant isn’t getting enough light if it becomes pale and “leggy” – there is a lot of thin stem between leaves, and the leaves are long and straggly. That shows that the plant is trying desperately to grow to find some light.

 

Background
Most soil is made up of small to tiny rock particles and organic material – partially decayed plant roots, stems and leaves, micro-organisms, and a few animals, mostly worms and insects. The rock particles provide nutrients. The rock particles also provide a tiny bit of  various types of salt to the soil. The salt is dissolved in water and either builds up on the surface or is washed away. It is salt that makes water “hard”. Hard water builds up scale around your faucet and white powder in over-watered plant pots.
There are no rock particles in bog soils. The soil of the bogs is usually made up entirely of organic matter. Organic matter holds water very well, but provides no nutrients. Without rock particles, most plants can’t live in bogs.
All carnivorous (meat-eating) plants live in bogs. Since the soil provided no nutrients, carnivorous plants developed ways to eat bugs. The famous Venus flytraps close on flies. Pitcher plants lure bugs into bowls they can’t escape from and they drown. Sticky plants, or sundews, ooze sticky sap that traps gnats and other tiny insects.
Carnivorous plants grow in the middle of a bog, with very little shade beyond cloud cover. They need light, as much as you can provide in an office environment.