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Insect-Eating Carnivorous Plants
Carnivorous plants are both fascinating and useful, says Michael Szesze, a retired science teacher, who got interested in insect-eating Venus Flytrap plants as a way to get his students’ attention when he was a teacher. Now, he and his wife, Pamela, raise more than 600 insect-eating plant species at their Carnivorous Plant Nursery in Smithsburg, Md. They sell plants and educational material to teachers and also gardeners and others with insect problems.
  “There are more than 1,000 species of carnivorous,” Szesze says, and he is continually adding more to his 23 acres of garden beds and his greenhouse.
  “Carnivorous plants come from bogs so you have to reproduce that environment. They need wet soil all the time; bright, indirect light, and soil that is a mix of peat moss and sand,” he explains.
  For beginners, the Venus Flytrap and purple American Pitcher plant are good choices. The Cape Sundew is another easy plant to grow. For serious collectors who like a challenge, Szesze has Cephalotus from Australia with its unusual and bizarre flowers, and Marsh Pitcher plants from South America.
  He has been surprised by the widespread interest in the plants from people of all ages and backgrounds.
  “When we first started, we had 6 to 8 orders a week. Now we get hundreds of orders a week,” Szesze says.
  The business ships mostly to the U.S., but also worldwide to buyers with permits. Some customers sign up for Szesze’s Plant of the Month Club to build a collection of plants.
  Szesze says carnivorous plants inspire students to ask questions and inspire them to learn more about plant life. Staff at the nursery are available to make suggestions to teachers who call about adding carnivorous plants to their lesson plans.
  And, nursery staff is also happy to help customers fill large terrariums, create outdoor displays, or just grow one or two plants.
  “One customer complained about mosquitoes around her house,” Szesze says. “So she made a hanging basket of Tropical Sundews. Now she says the mosquitoes go to the plants instead of her ankles. One farmer planted a bunch of plants in a trough by the door to his barn to catch flies.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Michael and Pamela Szesze, Carnivorous Plant Nursery, 13763 John Kline Rd., Smithsburg, Md. 21783 (ph 301 824-0133; www.carnivorousplantnursery.com).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6