How to make a bog?

Crazyshane51(Florida)December 20, 2005

hey guys i was wondering how to make a bog in florida. can you even make one? what do i put in it?

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Florida is a great place for building a bog*.

In fact, you likely have lots of really wonderful native bog plants growing in the wild near you. Appalachicola is one of the Mecca's of carnivorous plants.

Best of all, you can grow some of the warm-temperate species that those of further north have to grow in windowsills like Pinguicula planifolia, a Butterwort often the color of steak with large purple flowers (photo below)

In fact, Florida probably has the greatest diversity of Carnivorous plants in North America.

Okay, now building a bog is really simple. First, you need to understand that bogs are really clean sunny environments with lots of light, moisture and drainage. They are always moist but never saturated or flooded. It is this paradox that you need to simulate. You may even find places on your own property which would be appropriate for reintroduction or restoration of bog plants after you learn more about the habitat.

Many people us a liner of some sort, ranging from plastic sheeting to a pond liner. This can help maintain moisture. Some people then cut slices in the liner to provide drainage. I prefer to angle the slope of the garden to provide drainage more similar to a seep.

Soil is basically 50/50 peat and washed sand, but some people have some other favorite things to mix in. Experiment, but just don't use anything that would contribute salts, minerals or additional nutrients.

Next, add a layer of live sphagnum to the surface. Not only is this attractive, but it helps maintain moisture and provides a "living soil". You may however leave some central parts of the garden free of sphagnum moss for plants like flytraps which can be smothered.

Last, try any one of the great nurseries frequently mentioned on this list which responsibly propagate these rare bog plants. One of my favorites is Meadowview ( but Cook's Carnivores and others are good too.

Keep in mind there are infinite possibilties of design.
You can also just start with a plastic or glazed ceramic planter with a few drainage holes and go from there. This is really a relatively new form of gardening and we are all pioneers of a sort. Read a book like The Savage Garden, read this list, and get ideas then experiment. Best of all, you'll find that creating a bog garden is far less expensive than water gardening and a well designed bog garden is easier to maintain than a traditional "dry" garden.

Most importantly, hopefully bog gardening will enhance your awareness and appreciation for the rare plants in your own state. Many of us after bog gardening have also been drawn to conservation and the importance of protecting these plants and their ecosystems in the wild. You may even find yourself joining a local wildflower society or fighting development and poaching as many of us do.

Good luck!

*For those really picky about scientific language, technically bogs only occur in areas that have experienced glaciers long ago; however in the south, seeps and long leaf pine savannahs bear a strong similarity and contain many of the same species.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 11:34AM
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wait woooh slow down. i'm new to gardening so i don't know all the garden lingo so could you explain it step by step. in "non garden" terms. like best place to chose stuff like that thanks

Shane Kennedy

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 11:54AM
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Oh, also in case you are wondering about the seeming contradiction between the photo I sent, which shows a flooded area, and a bog garden which is merely moist...

Please keep in mind that, in the wild, bogs and seeps do flood sometimes. Venus Flytraps have even been know to catch fish and tadpoles while underwater! Some carnivores, including the species of butterwort above, even seem to like being flooded sometimes; however, in the home bog garden it would be difficult to allow for holding that much water for any period of time while also providing enough drainage. My own flood briefly (a few hours) when it rains but water quickly drains away.

Also, just for fun, here is another great bog plant you can grow. It is an orchid grown in my own garden called a rose pogonia:

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 11:57AM
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There is a bit to learn for a non-gardener when starting a bog garden. Even so, it isn't brain surgery either. If you can follow directions, and have seen an example or two, then it is relatively easy.

Most importantly it is good to know what kind of habitat you are trying to copy before you begin. I'd recommend checking out the books "The Savage Garden" by Peter D'Amato, or "Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada" by Donald Schnell. Either should give you a broad overview of the "insect eating plants" and a bit about the habitat that all bog plants enjoy. It should also catch you up on any of the "garden lingo" you'll encounter in the world of bog gardening.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 12:34PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)


Don't be intimidated because you are "new to gardening". Everybody starts somewhere and we've all been where you are now.

Florida is a perfect place for a bog. You can grow lots of things I wouldn't even consider up where I am. Carnivorous plants are a great place to start. Also look at some of the native plants of Florida.

Here is a good site on building a bog. Remember everyone has a different methodology but the principals are the same. Here's another good one.

Dunno if you're near Tampa but USF is 'sposed to have nice bog gardens and could be a good resource for you. If near Miami/Coral Gables Fairchild has a bog display and is a must see for gardeners anyway.

Yarthkin gave you two great posts to get you started. There are also lots of great resources you can find by searching on-line.

Have fun! Take it slow, and Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 12:34PM
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    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:12AM
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