Tom’s Carnivores

The growing season for Venus flytraps and Sarracenia might be over, but that needn't leave you stumped for gift ideas when buying for a carnivorous plant grower.

5 Gift Ideas for Carnivorous Plant Growers

People with quirky hobbies can be difficult to buy presents for. Growing carnivorous plants is not only quirky, it’s one of those hobbies with a tendency to turn into an obsession.

That’s why I’ve pulled together this list. The growing season for temperate plants like Venus flytraps and Sarracenia might be over for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but that needn’t leave you stumped for gift ideas when shopping for a CP grower. I’ve suggested something for every budget, and included a mixture of decorative and practical presents. Happy shopping!

1. Seeds

Carnivorous plants are famously picky about growing locations, and unfortunately, few will tolerate being inside a box under the Christmas tree, especially those expecting a cold winter dormancy. Seeds, however, are a little more resilient.

Unless you know that the recipient is looking for a specific plant, your best bet is to buy seeds of a genus they already grow. Alternatively, for children and new growers, Drosera capensis - the cape sundew - is fun and easy to grow from seed.

Sarracenia seeds of various species against a 1mm ruler, courtesy of the ICPS.
Sarracenia seeds of various species against a 1mm ruler, courtesy of the ICPS.

Triffid Nuseries in Suffolk offer a wide variety of seeds for sale, including multipacks and beginner collections. Owner Andy also recommends checking out their current Cephalotus and Nepenthes seed selection: “I’ve developed a really good (and fresh) supply of a various rare Nepenthes seeds, including N. macrophylla. These sell really well and are becoming increasingly popular.” Andy also mentioned some very exciting additions to their catalog which will be coming soon! Check out Triffid’s seed selection here.

2. Pillows, Prints, and Cases

I’ve partnered with printing company Redbubble to create a range of CP-themed mugs, pillows, notebooks, phone cases, and other gifts. My first design is a restored 1876 painting of Nepenthes northiana by Marianne North, the renowned Victorian botanical artist.

Nepenthes northiana on an iPhone X case, notebook, and travel mug,
Nepenthes northiana on an iPhone X case, notebook, and travel mug, on Redbubble.

I will donate 50% of all proceeds I receive from these items to the IUCN Carnivorous Plant Specialist Group, which exists to support the conservation of carnivorous plants in the wild. I’ll put the rest towards my web hosting costs :-)

Place your order directly with Redbubble. They will professionally print your item and dispatch it to you. Simply hit the ‘Available Products’ button to see all my available items. Order now to receive in time for Christmas!

3. Signed Books

If you’re buying for a new grower, they might not yet have Peter D’Amato’s essential book The Savage Garden. If that’s the case, buy it for them immediately! They’ll thank you for years to come. It’s available on Amazon in both physical and eBook forms, or signed from California Carnivores if you live in the States.

For more experienced growers, however, I’d particularly recommend the books of Stewart McPherson; his field guides are fantastic references for anyone planning a trip to see carnivorous plants in the wild, and his hardbacks - the Pitcher Plants of the Old World volumes, for example - include incredible photography and are essential for anyone with a serious interest in the ecology of a particular genus.

One of my favourites, Pitcher Plants of the Old World: Volume 2, by Stewart McPherson.
One of my favourites, Pitcher Plants of the Old World: Volume 2, by Stewart McPherson. Available on Amazon.

You can buy Stewart’s books on Amazon, or order signed copies directly from the author via Redfern Natural History.

4. Carnivorous Plant Society Membership

For new growers who are serious about conservation, a year’s membership for the UK Carnivorous Plant Society (the CPS) is a great gift. A registered charity, the society was founded in 1978 and today runs a wide range of open days, meetings and special events for CP enthusiasts. Membership costs £20 per year.

The UK Carnivorous Plant Society.
The UK Carnivorous Plant Society.

Members receive the society’s bi-annual, full-colour newsletter and journal (Planta Carnivora) and get access to the world’s leading carnivorous plant seed bank. The cost of membership includes an annual allowance of 4 seed packets at no additional charge. There are 14 different genera and over 500 species and hybrids available - this includes beginner-friendly plants like Sarracenia and common Sundews, as well as rarer plants like Roridula and Byblis. To join, visit the CPS website.

5. Paintings & Illustrations

If you’re looking for something very special and personalised, you might consider commissioning an original painting or illustration. The cost of doing so varies depending on the artist, the complexity of the subject, the size of the canvas, and whether or not you’re happy for the artist to sell copies. Whatever you go for, expect the price to be in the hundreds of pounds. It’s an expensive gift, but one which any CP grower will cherish for many years.

My advice is to search for botanical artists whose style you like - preferably people who’ve painted or drawn carnivorous plants in the past, but this is by no means essential - and contact them for a quote. You can search online, or visit a botanical garden to look around and ask for recommendations. When contacting an artist, provide as much information as you can, and be sure to specify whether they’d be working from a digital photo or a physical specimen.

My logo (scroll to the top to see it!) is based on a painting of Nepenthes veitchii which I commissioned from Alex Fritz, an artist based in Spain. You can see another example of his fantastic CP artwork in the video below, and can contact Alex via his website.

A time-lapse of Alex painting N. mirabilis var. globosa. See more of Alex's videos.

Thanks for reading! If you have any other gift suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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