HARDY BUTTERWORT Pinguicula alpina, Zones 1 And Up!
Pinguicula alpina, also known as the alpine butterwort, is a carnivorous plant that is extremely hardy outdoors, down to USDA zone 1! (Also see the hardy Pinguicula Vulgaris https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/607826230/wild-primula-vulgaris-creamy-yellow?ref=listings_manager_grid). It is one of the most widespread Pinguicula species, being found in mountainous regions from Iceland, Europe, to the Himalayas. Native to cold climates, it is a temperate species, forming prostrate rosettes of green to red leaves and white flowers in the summer and a tight hibernaculum during a period of winter dormancy in the winter. Like all members of the genus, P. alpina uses mucilaginous glands covering the surface of its summer leaves to attract, trap, and digest arthropod prey.
Pinguicula alpina reaches a height of 5–15 cm (2-6 in.) when in flower. The plant is supported by 1–2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) long roots, which are fleshy, yellow-white and branching. P. alpina is the only temperate Pinguicula which retains these roots year-round; the roots of other temperate species wither with the winter dormancy. This allows it to invest more of its income (nutrients derived from prey) into long-term storage, compared to other subarctic Pinguicula which are income breeders and invest these nutrients into immediate plant size and flowering increases.
The five to eight fleshy, light-green to reddish, elliptic to lanceolate leaves form a ground-hugging rosette up to 6 cm (2.5 in) in diameter. The upper surface of the leaves are sticky from the mucilage secreted by stalked glands covering the leaf surface. Small insects alighting upon this surface are caught by the mucilage, upon which sessile glands embedded in the leaf surface (except for the central vein) secrete digestive enzymes to digest the prey. The leaves of this species are able to further aid digestion by growing such that the leaf edge rolls toward the center, bringing additional glands into contact with the prey. Most plants are reddish-green in full sun, though some plant will turn completely red while a smaller percentage will remain completely green.
Six to eight (occasionally up to 13) flowers are borne singly on unbranched inflorescences up to 12 cm (5 in) tall. They are white with one or sometimes three yellow markings on the lower lip. These can be variable in size and shape. The flowers are protogynous, meaning that the female stigmas mature before the male anthers, and are pollinated by flies. Fertilized flowers mature into 6–9 mm (¼-⅜ in) by 2–3 mm (1/16-⅛ in) seed capsules bearing copious numbers of tiny, rust-brown seeds.
Pinguicula alpina is hemicryptophytic, in that the plant survives the cold winter conditions by reducing to a bud resting on the soil surface. This bud, called a hibernaculum, is composed of small, densely packed leaves, which unfurl with the coming of spring. Although most hibernacula in this genus lose their roots during this period, P. alpina is unique in that it retains them.
Note: These seeds are extremely tiny! It's just how they naturally are. Reading glasses are recommended to aid with seeing them, even for those who don't normally require glasses to read. The seeds are shipped in either a wax envelope, or folder within a small paper. Open carefully, and sprinkle onto the growing medium. Do not bury the seeds. Germination information is below.
Seeds per pack: 5
Germination: Use a mix of 50% peat moss, and 50% sand or perlite. As with many perennial seeds, these seeds benefit from a period of moist cold to help them begin to grow. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Place seeds on the surface of your growing medium, and water, do not bury them. Then place them in a refrigerator for 5-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container back at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout several weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period. They require some patience, but are well worth the effort!