Growing Tips

Forked Leaf Sundew Care Tips

Sun: Full sun outdoors.  If your sundew stops producing dew, it most likely needs more direct light

Water: Always sitting in at least two inches of distilled, reverse osmosis or rain water

Soil: Four parts peat moss to one part perlite.  Re-pot every three to five years or if the sundew completely out grows the pot

Temperature: 20 degrees - 80 degrees, can even take temperatures from freezing to 100 degrees but only for short periods

Fertilizer: Apply diluted Maxsea fertilizer (1/4 teaspoon of Maxsea into one gallon of water) to the leaves of your sundew once per month.

Dormancy: Requires a winter dormancy starting in October and ending in February. Many of the leaves will turn brown and die back during this time. Leave them outdoors in full sun, sitting in distilled water during this period. If you live in an area that snows; over winter them indoors on a sunny windowsill in an unheated room or garage. Still sitting in full sun and distilled water.

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Rosetted Sundew Care Tips

Sun: Full sun indoors, or outdoors, if your sundew is not producing dew it most likely needs more direct sunlight

Water: Always sitting in at least two inches of distilled, rain or reverse osmosis water

Soil: Four parts peat moss to one part perlite.  Re-pot every three to five years

Fertilizer: Apply diluted Maxsea fertilizer (1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water) to the leaves of your sundew once per month

Temperature: 25 degrees - 80 degrees, can even take temperatures from freezing to 100 degrees but only for short periods. Would appreciate cool nights

Dormancy: None

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Pygmy Drosera Care Tips

Sun: Full sun, outdoors or in a very sunny windowsill or under lights.

Water: Always sitting in at least two inches of distilled, rain or reverse osmosis water

Soil: Four parts peat moss to one part perlite.  Avoid re-potting as these tiny plants are very sensitive, best to propagate from gemmae.

Fertilizer: Apply diluted Maxsea fertilizer (1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water) to the leaves of your sundew once per month

Temperature: 40 degrees - 80 degrees, can even take temperatures from freezing to 100 degrees but only if kept wet

Dormancy: May experience brief summer dormancy when temperatures rise but it is not necessary and care remains the same during this period

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Drosera Regia Care Tips

Sun: Grow on sunny windowsills in direct sun, in greenhouses, or in a terrarium with fluorescent light

Water: Water with distilled or reverse osmosis water

Soil: We prefer our long fibered sphagnum moss Nepenthes mix for Drosera regia

Temperature: Daytime temperatures in the 70’s-80’s with a 10-20 degree drop in night temps.  They do not like to get hot and will die back if exposed to highs in the upper 80s-lower 90s.  They can grow back from the root if they die back.

Dormancy: none needed

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Cape Sundew Care Tips

Sun: Full to part sun, they require at least six hours of direct light to thrive.  If your sundew is not producing dew it most likely needs more light.

Water: This will thrive in the tray method, which keeps the soil permanently wet.  Keep your Cape Sundew sitting in a saucer with several inches of distilled, rain, or reverse osmosis water.

Temperature: Cape Sundews do well in a wide range of temperatures and environments. They can take a brief freeze and temperatures into 100f.  They do best with a small drop in night time temperatures of 10-20 degrees.  

Soil: We use a mix of four parts peat moss to one part perlite.  You can re-pot your plant every 3-5 years but they do not need frequent re-potting.

Fertilizer: Apply MaxSea fertilizer (dilute 1/4 teaspoon into 1 gallon of water) to the leave of your plant once per month.

Dormancy: None needed

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General Carnivorous Plant Growing Tips

Soil: We offer both individual ingredients and mixes for all your carnivorous plant needs which can be found in our Growing Supplies section.  Each species requires it's own specific blend but most carnivorous plants should be grown in some mix of peat moss, perlite or sand.  Never pot them into regular garden or potting soil; this will kill them.

We use professional grade peat moss only.  Be careful and do not use Miracle-Gro brand peat and perlite as it has been fortified with fertilizers and will harm carnivorous plants!

We recommend using washed horticultural or play sand.

We use New Zealand long-fibered Sphagnum moss as a base for many of our other plants such as Nepenthes and Heliamphora.  Many retail garden centers and nurseries unwittingly sell Oregon green moss as Sphagnum moss.  They are not the same, in fact Oregon green moss will kill our plants if it is used.

We use domestic long-fibered sphagnum to line the bottoms of our pots to prevent the peat and perlite from seeping out.

Sarracenia purpurea ssp. purpureaWater:  All carnivorous plants should be grown with a pure, low mineral water.  If you do have hard water, it is best to use collected rain water, distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or deionized water.  The water vending machines at your local grocery store are a good, inexpensive source for pure water.  Brita and Pur water filters, however, do not remove enough dissolved salts to make much difference.  Total dissolved solids (TDS) are best if below 160 parts per million (PPM).  You can purchase an inexpensive TDS meter on Amazon to test your water.

Most carnivorous plants love being in water!  They may be watered using the tray method.  Simply put your plants, in their pots, into a deep tray and fill it with pure water.  This is really the best and easiest way to make sure your plants don't ever dry out.  Exceptions are Nepenthes, Cephalotus, and Drosophyllum.

Fertilizer and Feeding:  Carnivorous plants evolved to catch insects to get the fertilizers that are lacking in their soil.  There are virtually no nutrients available in their planting media, so carnivores need to eat.  Healthy plants that have access to lots of prey probably don't need any fertilizing, although it would still be beneficial.  Most fertilizers are too strong for our plants and may severely damage or even kill them.  We have found Max-Sea fertilizer to be the most gentle and effective. We lightly sprinkle all of our carnivores once a month with 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of water.  MaxSea may be used on all of our plants from seedlings to mature specimens.  Apply to the leaves only, do not pour through the soil.  Use caution and lower concentrations when fertilizing more finicky South African sundews like Drosera regia, glabripes, and slackii.

Containers:  Plastic or glazed ceramic pots are best for all carnivorous plants.  Unglazed terracotta pots are very porous and dry the soil out quickly.  Also, they may leach salts out into the soil with time.  We prefer small plastic pots with holes in the bottom, so that the tray method may be used.  You can use undrained containers but be prepared to water frequently.

Venus flytrap dionaea muscipula

Pests & Pesticides:  Unfortunately and ironically, carnivorous plants may be afflicted with almost all of the same pests as normal plants.  The constant sap sucking of aphids will cause the new leaves of sundews and pitcher plants to twist and contort as they grow.  If you have cottony stuff in the growth points of your Sarracenia or at the base of Nepenthes leaves, then you have mealybugs. Sarracenia are a favorite of thrips; their chewing causes silvery patches on the pitchers.  Scale look like little waxy scabs that encrust the leaves and stems.   Luckily all of these little plant parasites are treatable.

Our plants can be damaged by some pesticides and many are very toxic, but we have a few things that we know are safe for the plants.  Before you spray, isolate the infected plants.

Scale may be wiped away with rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip or cotton pad.  Badly infested leaves may be cut away and thrown in the trash.  Then you will have to spray.  We recommend "Take Down"; the active ingredients are canola oil and pyrethrin, which comes from a daisy relative.  It is totally organic and has almost no odor.  Make sure and cover every surface of the infected plant.  You will need to treat the plant at least twice, 1 week apart.  Continue until they're all gone.  Avoid contact with skin and eyes.  Organic does not mean non-toxic.

Non-organic pesticides that are safe for our plants are Seven and Orthene.

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Seed Sowing Tips

Seed Storage:

Store seeds in a dry, sealed plastic bag in a refrigerator until it's time to sow them. Germination rates decrease with time, but properly stored seeds may last quite a while. Most Drosera, Drosophyllum, and Byblis seeds last for many years, even decades. Sarracenia and Darlingtonia seeds can be stored for at least a few years. Pinguicula and Utricularia seem to have a relatively shorter shelf life. Nepenthes seeds do not store well and should be sown as quickly as possible.

What is Stratification?

The seeds of most temperate carnivores require a period of being kept damp and cold in order to germinate. If you live where winters are relatively mild, sow these seeds outdoors in late winter, so that they experience about a month of cold nights from 20-40 F. Keep protected from the rain. If this isn’t possible where you live, sow the seeds and put the entire pot into the fridge for 4 weeks. Remove from the fridge and keep in a warmer spot with bright light to begin germination. Keep soil wet. If space is an issue, about a month before the spring, take the seeds out of the paper envelope and sprinkle into another bag with a few strands of damp long fibered sphagnum moss. Sow in spring when night temps are above freezing.

Covering Seeds:

High humidity and constantly damp media is essential to good germination. Covering the seeds with a translucent dome or by placing the pot in a plastic bag often helps with this. This will also protect them from rain. Make sure there is some ventilation to avoid fungus and to let some heat out. Place your covered seeds in bright indirect light. Avoid long periods of direct sun while covered as this may cook your little seedlings.

Venus Flytraps (Dionaea):

Sow seeds in the late winter to early summer outdoors in a bright spot, sheltered from hot afternoon sun. Keep wet. A cover may help this. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a mix of 4 parts peat to 1 part sand or 50/50 peat and washed sand. Do not bury. Use a 4-5 inch pot for each seed pack. Stratification may increase germination. Indoors: They may be sown at anytime in a terrarium as described below for highland Nepenthes.

American Pitcher Plants and Cobra Plants (Sarracenia & Darlingtonia):

Sow these the same way as Venus Flytraps except these will need stratification first. Seeds will usually start to germinate in 6-8 weeks after stratification ends. Sometimes, some or all of the seeds won’t germinate until the following year.

Sundews (Drosera):

Temperate: As for Sarracenia. Examples: filiformis, intermedia, anglica, rotundifolia.

Subtropical: As for flytraps. Examples: South African rosetted sundews, Brazilian sundews

Winter Growing: These can be challenging to germinate. In Western Australia or South Africa, where they grow, germination is often tied to wildfires. Several things can be done to simulate these fires. Seeds can be soaked in Gibberellic acid for 24 hours before sowing. You can sprinkle with diluted liquid smoke. Some people leave the seeds somewhere hot over the summer. Allen Lowrie recommends sowing the seeds and then smoking the pots in a BBQ by burning peat moss. After any or all of these treatments, sow them in the fall on 2 parts sand to 1 part peat. Germination can take several months to years. Examples: tuberous Drosera, cistiflora, pauciflora, trinervia, alba, afra

Tropical: As for Lowland Nepenthes. Examples: burmanni, intermedia ‘cuba’, madagascariensis, petiolaris complex.

Rainbow Plants (Byblis):

As for tropical sundews. Smoke treatments will often increase germination.

Dewy Pines (Drosophyllum):

Scarification helps these seeds to germinate more quickly. We do this by holding each seed with forceps and then gently rubbing the side of the seed on a damp whetstone. Do this until you just start to see a little white spot. Then soak for 24 hours in water. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a mix of equal parts peat, sand, perlite, sand, and some lava if you have it. Cover. They quickly form a long tap root, so transplant soon after they sprout.

Butterworts (Pinguicula):

For Mexican Pinguicula, sprinkle the tiny seeds on the dewy pine mix and sow like Nepenthes or as for subtropical Drosera. Temperate Pinguicula as for temperate sundews.

Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes):

These seeds are best sown in a terrarium under T-5 fluorescent lights with a 14 hour photo period. Keep the light about 18” above the plants and the tank well ventilated to avoid overheating. Warm temps from 75-80 F will hasten and increase germination. Highland Nepenthes need cooler nights to flourish. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a New Zealand sphagnum moss based mix with a little finely chopped long fibered sphagnum moss on top. Keep constantly moist.

 

MaxSea Fertilizer:

Mist seedlings shortly after germination at 1/4 tsp per gallon. A monthly foliar (leaf only) feed will greatly speed up growth. Do not fertilize too often as this encourages moss and algae to overtake the seedlings.

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Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) Growing Tips

Dionaea muscipula

Sun: Full sun.  It is common for several of the traps to "burn" and die back when you first put it into the sun, it is just getting used to the full sun exposure and it will quickly grow new traps.

Water: Always keep them sitting in a saucer with a few inches of distilled or purified water, they do not want to dry out but try not to flood the top of the traps with water as they do not appreciate this.

Temperature: These are warm-temperate plants meaning that they need warm summers and chilly winters.  They should be grown outdoors year-round in areas with mild winters.  They can thrive in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees - 80 degrees and can even take freezes and temperatures up to 100 degrees for brief periods.  If you live in an area with very cold winters, they may be overwintered on a windowsill in an unheated room or garage.

Venus flytraps at California CarnivoresDormancy: Flytraps need to go dormant in winter to continue to live and to thrive year after year; it is essential to their health.  A combination of exposure to shorter photo periods and colder temperatures from October to February triggers this dormancy.  During dormancy many of the traps turn black and die back, others grow smaller and lower to the base of the plant.  In spring the plant begins to grow vigorously again.  If night time temperatures do not dip below 20 degrees you should leave them outdoors for the winter.  If temperatures are too cold for this, the plants can be overwintered on a sunny windowsill in an unheated room or garage.  If this is not available you can bare-root the plants, wrap the roots in a little damp sphagnum moss, place them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator until spring.

Soil: Our Peat and Perlite Mix is four parts fertilizer free peat moss to one part perlite.  Never pot them into regular potting soil as the nutrients and fertilizers will kill them over time.

Fertilizing/Feeding: If grown outdoors, they Gremlin flytrapwill catch all of their own food.  Live prey is required for the trap mechanism to work properly and to complete the digestion process.  Live mealworms are a good choice.  Use tweezers to feed them to your traps.  MaxSea fertilizer can also be applied, once per month, to the leaves and traps of the plant.  Avoid pouring through the soil.

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Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes) Growing Tips

Nepenthes vogeliiSun:  Most Nepenthes enjoy very bright, diffused light or partly sunny conditions.  Many can be grown easily on a sunny windowsill.  Terrariums with high-powered fluorescent lights are easy to set up and ideal; we recommend four T-5 lights.

Water:  In greenhouses avoid the tray method of watering entirely and place the containers on benches or hang them so water can freely drain away.  In terrariums and on windowsills, place the pot in a shallow saucer and water overhead as soon as the water in the saucer evaporates.  Don't allow the pot to sit in deep water for extended periods of time as this can lead to root rot.  All pots must have drainage holes!

Temperature:  All Nepenthes are tropical plants, roughly divided into lowlanders and highlanders. 

  • Lowlanders come from low elevations in tropical Southeast Asia.  Constant temperatures in 80's with high humidity is ideal, although some species will grow on sunny windowsills in warm homes.  They are not tolerant of low temperatures.
  • Highlanders do best with day temps in the 70's and 80's.  They require a night time drop in temperature of about 10-20 degrees in order to thrive.  Most highlanders can be easily grown on sunny windowsills.  They can be damaged or killed by temperature below the low 40s.

Here is a very handy guide to Nepenthes temperature range by species: The Nepenthes Guide

Dormancy:  No dormancy period needed.

Nepenthes tiveyiSoil: Nepenthes enjoy loose, open soil that remains wet to moist but allows drainage of excess water.  They are tolerant of a wide variety of soil mixes.  The best are about three parts New Zealand long-fibered Sphagnum moss to one part of some combination of coarse materials, such as perlite, orchid bark, pumice, tree-fern fiber, lava rock or charcoal.

Fertilizer/Feeding:  MaxSea fertilizer can also be applied, once per month, to the leaves and pitchers of the plant.  Avoid pouring through the soil.  Osmocote 16-16-16 fertilizer pellets are also a wonderful addition to your fertilizer routine.  Put one pellet into each new pitcher as it opens. 

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American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) Growing Tips

Sarracenia in the wild

Sun: Full sun.  It is common for the lids of the pitchers to "burn" and die back when you first put it into the sun, it is just getting used to the full sun exposure and it will quickly grow new pitchers.  If your pitchers aren't growing correctly i.e. looking stretched out and too green, it means they are not getting enough sun exposure.

Sarracenia in the wildWater: Always keep them sitting in a saucer with a few inches of distilled, rain or reverse osmosis water, they do not want to dry out. 

Temperature: These are warm-temperate plants meaning that they need warm summers and chilly winters.  They should be grown outdoors year-round in areas with mild winters.  They can thrive in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees - 80 degrees and can even take freezes and temperatures up to 100 degrees for brief periods.  If you live in an area with very cold winters, they may be overwintered on a windowsill in an unheated room or garage.

Dormancy: Sarracenia need to go dormant in winter to continue to live and to thrive year after year; it is essential to their health.  A combination of exposure to shorter photo periods and colder temperatures from October to February triggers this dormancy.  During dormancy many of the pitchers turn brown and die back.  In spring the plant begins to grow vigorously again.  If nighttime temperatures do not dip below 20 degrees you should leave them outdoors for the winter.  If temperatures are too cold for this the plants can be overwintered on a sunny windowsill in an unheated room or garage.  If this is not available you can bare-root the plants, wrap the roots in a little damp sphagnum moss, place them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator until spring.

Soil: OuFlava catches preyr Peat and Perlite Mix is four parts fertilizer free peat moss to one part perlite.  Never pot them into regular potting soil as the nutrients and fertilizers will kill them over time.

Fertilizing/Feeding: If grown outdoors, they will catch all of their own food.  MaxSea fertilizer can also be applied, once per month, to the leaves and pitchers of the plant.  Avoid pouring through the soil.

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Dewy Pines (Drosophyllum lusitanicum) Growing Tips

Dewy Pines

Sun:  Full sun is best even on the hottest and driest of days.

Water:  Use the tray method to water young plants.  For the first 6-8 months they should be kept damp at all times.  As they approach maturity, they should no longer sit in water for long periods of time.  In the spring and summer, large plants should be allowed to dry slightly before you water again.  Do not allow them to dry out so much that wilting occurs, but the soil can get surprisingly dry before this happens.  Wilting will damage roots and set the plant back.  Flowering plants should be kept a bit drier.

Dewy Pine Close UpTemperature:  Dewy Pines are Mediterranean natives.  They can be grown easily outdoors year-round in California and the Southwest or anywhere else with hot dry summers and rainy winters.  They can take light frost and brief freezes.  They should be brought in or protected during long freezes below 25 degrees.  Ours plants take night time temps of 25 degrees without damage, as long as it warms back up during the day.

Dormancy:  No dormancy

Soil:  Unlike most carnivores, Dewy Pines need to be kept a little on the dry side.  As such they require a special mix.  We use a mix composed of equal parts perlite, pumice, peat moss, coarse vermiculite, and sand. 

Dewy PinePlant your dewy pine into a large terracotta clay pot.  It should be at least 12" in diameter. We ship our dewy pines in 4" round peat pot nestled into a protective plastic pot.  When you receive it, remove all the packing material, including the New Zealand sphagnum moss we use to hold its loose soil in place during shipping.  Gently slide the peat pot out of the plastic pot it was shipped in, if it resists, you may cut away the plastic pot with heavy kitchen shears or pruners.  Once liberated, you may put a few slits in the sides of the peat pot.  This will help the roots find their way out, but is not necessary because the pot will quickly break down once planted.  This allows you to transplant your little dewy pine without disturbing their sensitive roots.

Fertilizer/Feeding:  MaxSea fertilizer can also be applied, once per month, to the leaves of the plant.  Avoid pouring through the soil.

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Bladderworts (Utricularia) Growing Tips

Utricularia gibba

Sun:  Full to part sun.  Most bladderworts prefer a shady nook in the outside bog garden.

Water:  Use the tray method for terrestrial and tropical bladderworts, keeping the soil wet.

Utricularia cornigeraTemperature:  There are 226 species of Bladderworts and they grow virtually worldwide, thus they come from varied climates. Our tropical species do best in warm greenhouses and terrariums.  The terrestrial bladderworts make wonderful, miniature, flowering ground covers in the spaces around your other carnivores and can take temperature from 40-90 degrees.

Dormancy:  No dormancy period required.

Soil:  Utricularia pubescens

  • Aquatic species: One cup of peat, well-mixed, into each gallon of water.
  • Tropical species: Equal parts fine orchid bark, New Zealand long-fibered sphagnum, peat and perlite.
  • Terrestrial Species: Two parts peat to one part sand or perlite.

Containers: Plastic containers with drainage holes work best for terrestrial and epiphytic species.  Most terrestrials also do well in un-drained containers.  If you wish to view the bladders on terrestrials, grow them in glass containers with removable black plastic sheeting of construction paper wrapped along the outside of the glass below the soil level.

Fertilizer/Feeding:  MaxSea fertilizer can also be applied, once per month on the foliage of the plants and try to avoid pouring too much of the MaxSea through the soil.

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