A PAIGNTON gardener's passion for meat eaters began 25 years ago after a chance glance at a pitcher plant at a NSPCC specialist plant sale.
A fine North American native pitcher plant — Sarracenia — caught Dennis Balsdon's eye with its unusual blooms and architectural form.
Now, the 67-year old-has greenhouses bursting with different carnivorous varieties and more hardy types that fend for themselves outside during all weathers.
He gives talks to horticultural groups and exhibits at the big shows including Chelsea and this year's Gardener's World at Birmingham LG arena.
Dennis, a former NHS manager, said: "I find them completely fascinating. People have said they are macabre but I don't see it that way at all."
As a member of the Carnivorous Plant Society, Dennis has a wide collection of carnivores. He has Venus fly traps, cobra lilies and sundews among his collection.
Intriguing and beautiful are butterworts which have leaves like, well, butter.
"I spend more time in the greenhouses, probably more than my wife would like," he joked.
The plants have their own methods of catching their quarry.
But all involve a sticky end at the bottom of a slippery slope or within the jaws of a closing 'trap'.
Enzymes digest the prey releasing the nutrients for the plant to feed on.
Dennis said: "That's the best thing about them, they are plants which feed themselves."
Dennis explained that a single pitcher can trap 400 flies in a single night.
But these are discerning individuals who allow bees to climb out. And Venus fly traps will let insects which are too small escape.
"They'll let them go if it isn't worth their while," Dennis explained.
Venus fly traps are hardy outdoors. And pitcher plants will be happy in a nutrient free substrate like peat or coir and in a pool of rainwater.
They make ideal companions to compost bins, rabbit hutches and chicken runs, said Dennis.
While pitchers are thriving in Dennis' garden, their native boggy habitat in northern America is being threatened by land drainage, agriculture and golf club development.
Dennis has found lots of native areas he has visited have long since disappeared.
"We tend to go on holiday where I can see carnivorous plants in the wild," he said.