List of Care Guides
Hardy Sundew Care GuideJust the straight facts from guys who grow and propagate thousands of carnivorous plants each year.
No terrariums. No myths. No nonsense.
The United States is home to several species of hardy sundews, or Drosera
. Below are some that are commonly grown in cultivation:
While there are certain idiosyncrasies that vary from species to species and hybrid to hybrid, the general care is the same for all of them. Use the following as a guideline to growing US-native sundews. USDA Zone of Native Habitat: Zone 2-8
Most sundews found in the United States occur naturally where wintertime temperatures can sometimes reach as low as 10°F (-12°C) for brief periods of time. In cultivation, it is always recommended to follow proper winter care when growing these sundews in zones 8 or colder, regardless of a plant's cold tolerance. See below for more information.Where to Grow
All US-native sundews grow best outdoors as a container or potted plant. They make an excellent addition to any sunny deck or patio. You may also grow them in a pond or fountain, but keep the crowns above water. Because of their specific soil requirement, avoid planting them directly in the ground unless you have created a specific type of bog garden.Sunlight
During the growing season, grow your sundew outside in full sun. Provide 6 or more hours of direct sunlight for vigorous growth.
If full sun is not possible, provide a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight with bright indirect light during the rest of the day. Your sundew may not be as dewy as one grown in full sun, but you will be able to maintain its overall health.
US-native sundews are quite tolerant of the summer heat. They originate from areas, where temperatures above 90°F (32°C) are common during summer. (See above for information about its range.) However, in their native habitat, the soil temperature is moderated by a slow seepage of spring water.
If you grow your sundew in containers, you will need to pay attention to soil temperature. While it may not be necessary to shade your plant during the hottest parts of summer, you may need to top water your plants daily to prevent the roots from over heating. This occurs when the soil temperature approaches 110°F (43°). Monitor soil temperature whenever the daytime temperature rises above 100°F (38°C).
If you live in areas where temperatures routinely rise above 100°F (38°C) during the summer, watch Grow Carnivorous Plants DVD, Volume 1 for growing instructions specifically for desert climates.
Keep the pot in standing water at all times. Never allow the soil to dry out completely. Set the pot in standing water to keep the soil wet at all times. Sundews are very sensitive to water with dissolved mineral levels of 50 ppm or more, so use mineral-free water whenever possible.
If you are growing your plant in a pond or fountain, keep the water level no higher than halfway up the pot. Avoid drowning the crown of the plant.
requires nutrient-free soil that provides good drainage and aeration. Use a standard soil mixture of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Never use potting soil, compost or fertilizer. These ingredients will kill your plant.
By early fall, your sundew will slow down in growth and all of its leaves will die off. This is perfectly normal. As the weather gets cooler, the entire plant will eventually shut down and form a small bud, called a hibernaculum, found resting on the soil surface. This is how your plant prepares itself for winter dormancy, which is triggered by cold temperatures (below 50°F or 10°C) and shorter daylight hours.
Even while dormant, your plant will still need to sit in a small amount of standing water to prevent the soil from drying out. Remove all dead leaves.
Don’t worry about over night temperature dips as low as 20°F (-7°). While dormant, your plant can certainly tolerate nighttime frosts with minimal winter protection.
However, plants are very susceptible to freeze damage when grown in containers. You will need to protect your dormant sundew when the temperature falls below 20°F (-7°C) or whenever there is both a combination of freezing temperatures and wind. Both types of winter conditions can certainly cause serious frost burn. To prevent frost burn, cover your plant with black plastic or a tarp, or move it into an unheated garage or shed.
As soon as the freeze is over and the temperature rises above 35°F (2° C), uncover your plant and allow it to continue its dormancy outdoors.
If you live an area where the temperature routinely goes below 32°F (0°C) for more than a week at a time, such as in zones 7 or less, you will need to winterize your container plants. Container plants can certainly tolerate brief freezes, but with prolonged freezes, your plants are at risk for frost burn.
In early to mid spring look for new leaves emerging from the hibernaculum.
For more information on winter care in cold climates, watch Grow Carnivorous Plants DVD, Volume 1.
Although some growers like to feed their sundews, it is not necessary. Carnivorous plants have adapted to capturing insects on their own, and insects will naturally be attracted to your plant.
If you choose to feed your plant, use recently killed insects that will fit comfortably on the leaves. Avoid putting too much on the leaves, because the leaves will rot.
Do not feed your plant meat. Use insects only. When it comes to feeding your plant, it is very tempting to over do it. Keep in mind that none is better than too much. Feeding is not at all required during the winter months when the plant is dormant.
For a robust sundew, repot it every year. Change the soil, and if necessary, put them in a larger pot. Changing the soil restores soil acidity, improves root aeration and strengthens the health of your plants.
Repotting is best done in late winter and early spring while the plant is still in its hibernaculum state. Although its roots are often long and quite distinct during the growing season, during dormancy the roots are generally small and difficult to distinguish. Just make sure when you repot your plant that the hibernaculum is in its upright position.
You can also repot your plant during its growing season. If you do so, make sure to keep the roots intact and undisturbed as much as possible.
When changing pots, use a tall one that will easily accommodate its long root system. Sundews tend to grow faster and bigger when their roots have room to grow. Large pots will also give your plants added protection during the winter.
Because of sun requirements and winter dormancy, we do not recommend growing hardy sundews indoors, including terrariums. They grow best outdoors as container plants or in bog gardens.
Grow Carnivorous Plants! DVD Series: No terrarium. No myths. No nonsense. Just the straight facts from guys who grow and propagate thousands of carnivorous plants each year. You'll learn best growing practices, propagation techniques, and troubleshooting. Over 6 hours of professionally produced video instruction.
Video Podcast: These podcasts are supplements to the Grow Carnivorous Plants DVD series. Watch the monthly podcast for quick growing tips and useful advice throughout the year. See how plants normally look like as the seasons change. You can also subscribe to the monthly care newsletter, which is a text version of the video podcasts.