Q/A #16 - Sundew Is Stunted from Poorly Drained Soil

January 12, 2023

Q/A #16 - Sundew Is Stunted from Poorly Drained Soil

I have a Drosera aliciae that I've been growing for approximately a year. It's under an indoor grow light (four T5 fluorescent tubes, 6500K, 8 inches away). The lights are on 12-14 hours a day, depending on the time of the year. It's in its original pot and soil (from a different nursery). I use ZeroWater, and I never fertilize. The leaves start to open, then it seems like they don't open all the way. It just looks fairly sickly. Wondering if you had any advice.
(Submitted in October 2018.)


Sadly, in my experience, once a rosetted sundew looks like yours, I consider it dead. It may be salvageable, but it really comes down to effort versus benefit. It's just unfortunate to see a plant whither after spending a year growing it. 

There are several reasons why a plant ends up like this, but the first that comes to mind is the soil. It looks terribly dark and compact with not much perlite in it. I suspect the soil had become anaerobic, meaning that not much oxygen is getting down to the roots. Plant roots need oxygen for healthy development. In oxygen depleted soil, plants often produce stunted growth, or none at all. Given that you've had the plant for a year in its original soil also supports my suspicions.

So, my first recommendation would be to get your plant into fresh media with a mix of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite. Smell the soil when you unpot it. It should smell earthy. If it smells funky, like rotten eggs, then the soil had gone sour. But, a new mix with more perlite will enrich the roots with more oxygen.

Also, rinse off the old media and examine the roots. That will tell you if the plant is worth salvaging. If the roots are dark and brittle, they're dead. The plant is on its way out. If root tips are white and supple, the plant is hanging on, so see if it recovers after placing it in fresh soil.

Finally, give your plant time to recover. It may take several months, and only time will tell if the plant will make it. All of the other factors you mentioned about growing your plant seems fine. The soil is the main thing that I see.

Submitted in October 2018. The original question and response have been edited for publication.
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