Drosera Care, Tropical

Drosera, Tropical Varieties

No terrariums. No myths. No nonsense.
Get the straight facts from guys who grow and propagate thousands of carnivorous plants every year, since 1995.


Some of the most common tropical sundews you might find in cultivation are:
Drosera capensis
Drosera aliciae
Drosera spatulata
Drosera multifida
Drosera scorpiodes
Drosera regia
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 tropical sundews.

Range

Tropical sundews originate from warm climates of the world, such as those found in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America where frost never or rarely occurs. Their habitats are mostly open fields where they can get lots of sunlight.

Where to Grow

Grow tropical sundews indoors as a tropical houseplant. A terrarium is NOT necessary to grow the most common sundews grown in cultivation. Constant high humidity is not at all a significant factor to increase dew production and can cause more harm than good. For more information about growing tropical sundews without a terrarium, watch Grow Carnivorous Plants DVD, Volume 2.

If you live in a tropical climate where the temperature rarely drops below 55°F (13°C), you have the option of growing your plants outdoors.
Sundews will acclimate to lower humidity. No terrariums!

Sunlight

All tropical sundews require a lot of sun to maintain their dewy appearance. Grow them in a location where they can receive partial to full sun. A window that gets four or more hours of direct sunlight and bright filtered sun during the rest of day is ideal.

Although tropical sundews can tolerate very warm temperatures, up to 100°F (43°C), dew production will decrease in excessively warm conditions despite being given lots of sunlight. Dew production generally resumes when the temperature drops below 85°F (29°C).

Artificial Lights

If a sunny window is not possible, use a couple of 40-watt fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent bulbs of similar output. Keep the light source approximately 8 inches above the plant. If leaves are light green and not dewy, move the lights closer to increase the intensity. The light should be on for 14 hours during spring and summer, and 12 hours during fall and winter. Avoid using incandescent bulbs. They produce too much heat and the wrong type of light spectrum. Even incandescent “grow-lights” are inappropriate for carnivorous plants.

Water

Set the pot in standing water to keep the soil wet at all times. Never allow the soil to dry out completely. This plant is very sensitive to water with dissolved mineral levels of 50 parts per million or more, so use mineral-free water whenever possible.

Soil

These plants require 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. They will kill your plant.

Feeding

Although some growers like to feed their sundews, it is not necessary. Insects live in most homes, and they will naturally be attracted to your plant. Keep in mind that carnivorous plants have adapted to survive on miniscule amounts of nutrients. An adult plant needs only a couple insects or so per month. 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. Feeding is not required during the winter months when growth naturally slows down.

If you prefer, you may spray your plant with a weak solution of fertilizer. Use a high quality orchid or bromeliad fertilizer, and use only 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water. Mist your plant with this mixture. A couple squirts are all you need. Never exceed this amount and never use it on the roots! Apply the fertilizer weekly during spring and summer, and only once a month or not at all during the winter when growth naturally slows down. When it comes to feeding or fertilizing your plants, it is very tempting to over do it. Keep in mind that none is better than too much.

Repotting

Many sundews will rapidly fill any pot when they are placed in proper growing conditions. Clip off dead leaves to stimulate more growth. Change the soil, and if necessary, put your sundew in a larger pot. Changing the soil restores soil acidity, improves root aeration and strengthens the health of your plants. You can repot your plant at any time of the year.