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GROWING CARNIVOROUS PLANTS

BY TRIFFID PARK

This is just a brief summary on how to grow carnivorous plants.
If you would like more technical information, scroll to the bottom of this page, and we also have many good books available for sale on the subject.
Please ask us which one is best suited to you. 
 

SPHAGNUM MOSS and SPHAGNUM PEAT MOSS
Sphagnum moss grows in bogs, and can hold large quantities of water inside its cells.  After a long time the underneath moss decays and breaks down forming sphagnum peat moss.
 Because of their water holding capacity, it can still hold up to 60% of its volume in water, due to still having a lot of the moss fibres, these peat accumulations then provide habitat for a wide array of peatland plants, such as carnivorous plants
Sphagnum moss is used for several carnivorous plants including Pinguiculas, Darlingtonias, Heliamphoras and in a Nepenthes mix.  If you are using sphagnum moss, you can use live, dried or dead moss.  It is the moisture holding capacity you are after, so make sure you keep it moist at all times.  If the moss is live and you want to kill it, because live moss can smother smaller plants, pour boiling water over it.
Sphagnum peat moss is used for Dionaea Muscipula (venus fly traps), Sarracenias, some Droseras, Utricularias, and as part of our Nepenthes mix.

POTTING MEDIUM for DIONAEA MUSCIPULA (venus fly traps), DROSERA and SARRACENIA
We recommend using Sphagnum peat moss. 
DO NOT
use coco peat or coir peat which comes from coconut husks.  DO NOT use sedge peat which comes from decomposed reeds and sedges often growing in salt areas and has a lower water holding capacity than that of sphagnum peat moss due to its finer texture. These all come from areas containing high levels of salt, and salt will kill carnivorous plants.  
DO NOT
use potting mix or any other such potting mediums as these will change the ph of the medium.  DO NOT mix potting mix or any other substitutes with your peat moss.

We use Canadian TEEM Sphagnum peat moss.  This is available from us in either commercial bales, or small home gardener size bags.
Wet the peat moss thoroughly first in a bucket before you plant into it.  It is hard to get it to absorb water to start with, so put your hand in and mix it around.  Get it nice and moist.  Then pack into your pot, and plant away.
Do not use terracotta pots.
Te
rracotta leaches salt which will kill your carnivorous plants.
Make sure the pot or bowl has a hole in the bottom for the water to drain away and you can keep water in the saucer under the pot so the plants can draw up water when they need it.  For terrariums, see information at the bottom of this page.
For other carnivorous plants, please scroll down.


We recommend using perlite or propagating sand mixed in with your peat moss. 
NOT river sand because even if it says it is washed on the bag, it still contains high levels of salt which will kill carnivorous plants. 
Propagating sand is coarser and sharper than normal sand, and is normally washed. The sharp corners enables the water to get through the peat moss, encourage root growth, and doesn't pack down as tightly as rounded water worn sand.  Propagating sand is usually used for propagating cuttings. It should be available from most garden centres in bags labelled as "Propagating sand".   Unfortunately we cannot sell it due to the weight of it.
Perlite is an
amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content. It has high permeability / low water retention and helps prevent soil compaction.
We do sell bags of Perlite, but only by Pick Up by appointment or at our Annual Open Day.
If you cannot buy perlite or propagating sand, then you can use river sand, but you MUST wash it thoroughly first.  It needs to be a quartz based sand.  Put it in a bucket and fill the bucket with water using a hose.  Put the hose in the bottom of the bucket so that it stirs up the sand and let the water flow over the bucket for 10 minutes or more to wash the salt content from the sand. Or alternatively, wash it through using a sieve.

When you receive the plants from us, they will come bare rooted, not in pots, so you can keep them in the plastic bags they come in for another 3-4 days, in a cool spot if you don’t get to plant them straight away.  Don’t leave them in the sun or they will sweat in the bags.

 

What do I feed my carnivorous plants?
A very commonly asked question.
Can I feed them hamburger meat?
Answer:  Would you put insects in your hamburger bun, if there was no hamburger meat around!?
For more detailed fertilising techniques, see each species below.

Most web sites will tell you not to fertilise your carnivorous plants, and this is because people get a bit excited and start feeding them all sorts of things and at excessive dosage rates.  The information below on fertilising is what we do in our nursery, and we have fantastic results with it. We are not telling you to use this, we are telling you what we use.  It is up to you to make your own decision, or to experiment as we have done.

 

DIONAEA MUSCIPULA (VENUS FLY TRAPS)

The most famous carnivorous plant.
A large plant will grow to a maximum of 15 cm.
They have a white flower in spring.
They will catch and digest flies and mosquitos.

Dionaea muscipula is the only species in the genus.

NATIVE HABITAT:
In the U. S. A., in peat bogs, on the border of North and South Carolina, U.S.A., tending more towards the north, is a tiny area where Dionaea muscipula grows.
The habitat fly traps grow in naturally is called the "Savannah", which is a series of raised low islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares, of which probably no more than 50 of these islands remain in their original condition.

HOW THEY CATCH INSECTS: The trap consists of two halves, not unlike a clam shell.   The outer margins are lined with teeth or cilia.  A sweet nectar is produced by glands found along the inner base of the teeth that rim the trap.  Insects are lured by the nectar to enter the trap.  The flat surface inside the traps have 3 trigger hairs on each side of the V.  When these are repeatedly touched by insects moving about drinking the nectar, the trap snaps shut. At first, the trap closes loosely, so that the bug can continue to run back and forth within the trap.  If the bug is too small, it can escape.  If that happens, the trigger hairs inside the trap would not be further stimulated and the trap would reopen in about a day.  This is how the plant avoids wasting time trying to digest sticks, rain drops or prey that gets away.  But if a bug remains trapped inside, its continued running about would stimulate the trap to close more tightly, and digestion begins.  Glands on the inner surface of the lobes begin to secret digestive juices, and the insect drowns in this fluid.  The trap stays shut for several days up to 30 days and when it finally reopens, all that remains is the exoskeleton of the insect.  Each trap only has a life of about three meals, then the trap and petiole die.

REPOTTING: Use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss, and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it.  The best time to re-pot is in the early spring when the plants are just starting to grow.  Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.  The pH of the sphagnum peat moss needs to be about 5.5.  TDS (total dissolved salts) should be 0 (zero).

WATERING: See more watering info at bottom of page under "WATER". 
Do not ever let your Venus Fly Trap dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. The plant must enjoy the "thrill of the chase", so that it releases it's digestive juices, to devour the insect. 
We feed with a mixture of Seasol and Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, we use 4 ml of Seasol and 1ml of Powerfeed. If Powerfeed isnt available, then we just use the Seasol at 4ml per 1 litre of water. 
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Venus Fly Traps require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in
winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow
them outside in the full weather.

HUMIDITY: Venus fly traps like humidity around 70-90%. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.  Venus fly traps don't like temperatures over 35 degrees celcius. Their growth stops at these temperatures and it is very hard to get them started again. Where the fly traps grow naturally, it reaches 40 degrees celcius all through their summer.  But the fly traps have finished growing at this time, and the ground is always cool, as they are watered by capillary action from beneath the ground.

DORMANCY: During winter your Venus fly trap will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing and may even die back to
almost nothing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain
strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send
up their new leaves/pitchers.

Dionaea Muscipula flower

FLOWERING:  Dionaea muscipula's flower in spring, and are white.  If you want to try pollinating your venus fly trap flower, you need
to hand pollinate the flowers.  Do this by taking the pollen off the anther and putting it on the stigma.  You have to do this with each
flower as it opens.  The seeds take about 3-4 weeks to ripen and can then be planted straight away, or can stay viable for up to one year.  The seeds are hard and black when ripened, about half the size of a grain of wheat.  Seed production can tire the plant considerably, so if you notice the plant not looking too well, this is why.

PROPAGATION:  Division, leaf cuttings, seed, tissue culture.

PESTS AND DISEASES: 
APHIDS: result in twisted and deformed new traps.  Spray with Malathon.
SPIDER MITE: common in hot dry climates.  Spray with a general House and Garden spray or Folimat.
BLACK SPOT FUNGUS: can appear on plants in an overly wet and humid environment.  Use a fungicide for control.

The Truth About Venus Fly Traps And Their Secret World.

 

NEPENTHES (HANGING PITCHER PLANTS)

These plants grow in the tropical forests of South-East Asia and very north eastern Australia.
They are vines that can climb to the top of 15 metre trees.
They have jug shaped pitchers, some varieties up to 30cm long.
These pitchers fill with liquid as the pitcher grows, and when the liquid is ready to digest prey, the lid opens and the trap is ready.
The traps can catch flies, mosquitos, wasps and bees, and even moths, rats and small birds have been found in large traps.
In the Philippines and Borneo, large pitchers are sometimes used for cooking rice and vegetables.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Nepenthes we use a mixture of 75% 5-10mm size orchid bark, and the other 25% made up of Sphagnum peat moss, sphagnum moss and perlite.   Or they can be grown in straight Sphagnum moss.
Wet your mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not
too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Nepenthes do not like to be water logged, but do not like to dry out.  Water and let the water run through the pot.  During summer you will need to do this once or twice a day.  Make sure the mix always looks moist.  If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. 

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. We feed with a mixture of Seasol and Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, we use 4 ml of Seasol and 3ml of Powerfeed. If Powerfeed isnt available, then we just use the Seasol at 4ml per 1 litre of water. 
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 6-8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot.  You might like to catch the fertilised water running out the bottom of the pot to reuse again once the next day to make sure the plant gets a good feed.

LIGHT: Nepenthes require a high level of light to help produce their pitchers.  They need at least a couple of hours of natural light a day.  A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch. Don’t put the nepenthes outside in the full weather because they require more protection.

HUMIDITY:  The number one reason for Nepenthes not growing pitchers/traps is lack of humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity.  Change the water in the tray every month.  A terrarium or glasshouse will provide warmth and humidity. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Nepenthes may not produce pitchers (traps). They will slow down in growth.  Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the stem of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitcher.  You can put a clear plastic bag over the plant in winter to keep it warmer and more humid.

When a Nepenthes goes through its transition stage and starts to grow its vine, it will have a time gap before it starts to grow upper pitchers. In the wild, they won't grow upper pitchers until the vine reaches the top of the tree where it gets more light, and to catch the insects that live up there.

FLOWERING: Nepenthes will only flower in a high light situation. They will only flower once they start to produce upper pitchers.  Nepenthes plants are either male or female, so cannot be self-pollinated.  You need one of each to pollinate.  Check Dionaea Muscipula for how to pollinate.

Nepenthes flower

Male and female Nepenthes flowers.

Nepenthes house - looking down to the end with exhaust fan.

Nepenthes house - looking back towards doorway.


 

SARRACENIA (PITCHER PLANT)

These plants grow on the east coast of North America.
Their brightly colored pitchers attract flies, wasps, bees and other flying insects.
Crawling creatures such as ants and slaters climbs up the pitchers, attracted by the sweet smelling nectar, or by the smell of insects already rotting inside the pitchers.
The pitchers have downward pointing hairs to stop any insects crawling out.
They all flower in spring with the flowers varying in color from red, yellow, pink or green.
A mature plant can grow up to 60cm tall.
Most have hoods to stop the pitchers filling with rain water and washing the food away. Some varieties don’t have hoods and use the rain water to drown their prey.

REPOTTING:
You can use straight Sphagnum peat moss or a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the early spring when the plants are just starting to grow. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: See more watering info at bottom of page under "WATER".
Do not ever let your Sarracenia dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water.  In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way.  We feed with a mixture of Seasol and Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, we use 4 ml of Seasol and 1 ml of Powerfeed. If Powerfeed isnt available, then we just use the Seasol at 4ml per 1 litre of water. 
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 6-8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Sarracenia's require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

HUMIDITY: Sarracenia’s like a reasonable amount of humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive. For sarracenias, heat doesn't seem to be a problem.  Our growing houses reach 50 degrees celcius in summer.  We don't put any cover over the plastic house, as the more light you can give the sarracenias, the better they are.  But they must never dry out.  Be very wary of high fertiliser concentrations when the temperatures get up this high.

DORMANCY: During winter your Sarracenia will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing and all the traps will die off. Do not worry.  This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers.  Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.  For tropical countries where you don't get a cold winter, see the section at the bottom of this page on "Dormancy" for forcing dormancy.

FLOWERING: Sarracenia's will flower in early spring, if the plant is of flowering size.  They put up their flowers first so that naturally in the wild, the insects will pollinate them.  They they put up their traps to catch and eat the insects.  To learn to pollinate sarracenias, we have some good books on the subject available for sale.

 

DARLINGTONIA CALIFORNICA (COBRA LILY)

The Cobra Lily grows naturally on the west coast of North America.
They can grow up to 60cm tall.
They can trap flies, mosquitos, wasps, and crawling creatures such as slaters and ants.
They look a lot like a cobra snake ready to strike, with their tall twisted pitchers, and puffed up heads and fangs.
They have small windows in the walls of the pitcher which lets light in and confuses insects who cannot find their way out.
They flower in spring
.

Darlingtonia californica from California U.S.A.
The Californian cobras grow in high altitudes, in seeps where the water comes out of springs and is extremely cold.  Some of these seeps are not deep at all.  When the water gets about 300 yards from the springs, the water is starting to warm up and the cobras don't grow there.
Darlingtonia californica
 From Lake Wohink, Oregon, U.S.A.   
Grow the cobras from Oregon in the same light conditions as the California type cobras.  They naturally grow in lowland conditions.  The water temperature does not need to be kept cold like the California varieties.  They naturally grow in slow moving streams in flat country where the water slows down behind sand dunes before reaching the sea, so the water is much warmer.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Darlingtonia Californica you should use Sphagnum moss.
Wet this thoroughly first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Cobra Lily dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water.
In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time. They need their roots kept cool, so water daily with very cold water.
Here is a link on how to make a "Darlingtonia cooling box"

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way.  We dont fertilise our Darlingtonia.

LIGHT: Darlingtonia’s require a shady position. Under a bench in the green house is a good spot, or a shady porch. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, or glasshouse.

HUMIDITY: Darlingtonia’s don’t require a lot of humidity.

DORMANCY: During winter your Darlintonia will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing, but won’t die back. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers and flowers.

 

DROSERA (SUNDEWS)

Droseras are found in most parts of the world, but more live in Australia than anywhere else.
They catch mosquito’s, ants, flies and other small insects by catching them on the sticky nectar on the tentacles of their leaves.
They all flower at different times of the year.
Some varieties go dormant in summer when the soil dries out, others grow all year round.
Some lay flat on the soil to catch crawling insects, and others stand upright to catch flying insects.
Some varieties can grow up to 60cm tall.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Drosera you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: See more watering info at bottom of page under "WATER".
Do not ever let your Drosera dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water.
In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. We feed with a mixture of Seasol and Powerfeed (Powerfeed is made by the same company as Seasol).  To one litre of water, put 4 ml of Seasol and 1ml of Powerfeed. If you cant get Powerfeed, then just use the Seasol at 4ml per 1 litre of water.  DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Droseras require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch and some growers grow them outside in the full weather.

HUMIDITY: Drosera’s like humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter most Drosera's go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

 

CEPHALOTUS FOLLICULARIS (ALBANY PITCHER PLANT)

This plant is native to a small part of south western Australia, called Albany.
They have small jug-like pitchers with slippery sides and sharp teeth around the rim to prevent insects from escaping.
They can catch flies, mosquito's, slugs, ants and slaters.
When grown in the shade the pitchers will become green in color, but when grown in the sun, the traps or pitchers will turn dark red.
A mature plant will have pitchers up to 5cm in length
.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Cephalotus follicularis you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a large deep pot for the plant, and mound it up on top of the surface.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Cephalotus dry out, they like to be wet all the time. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way.  We feed with Seasol. To one litre of water, put 4 ml of Seasol.
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Cephalotus require a medium level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

HUMIDITY: Cephalotus like humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Cephalotus will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing but will not die back. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves and pitchers.

 

PINGUICULA (BUTTERWORT)

Pinguicula's live mainly in North America, but some are common in South America, Europe and Asia.
They grow in shady places and trap ants, mosquitos and flies on their greasy leaves.
When an insect lands on the leaves, the plant covers it with a sickly, sweet smelling liquid and the insect drowns.
The flowers can be purple, blue, yellow, white or red.
New plants will grow on the tips of the leaves and these are called ‘pups’. They can be removed and planted in a pot of their own.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Pinguicula you should use Sphagnum moss. Wet this through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing.
Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Pinguicula dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water.
In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. We dont fertilise Pinguicula.

LIGHT: Pinguicula's require a low level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

HUMIDITY: Pinguicula’s like humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month.  A terrarium or glasshouse or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Pinguicula will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

 

UTRICULARIA (BLADDERWORTS)

Utricularia's are found in most parts of the world, usually growing in ponds or in slow flowing creeks and others in very damp soil.
Balloon like sacs or ‘bladders’ grow at the roots of the plants and are very small, some no bigger than the head of a pin.
If a small insect swims past the bladder and touches the tiny trigger hairs, the trap door swings open and creates a vacuum inside the bladder, sucking the insect inside. The door snaps shut behind it.
The prey of Utricularia's is usually mosquito larvae that live in the water.
They all have flowers varying in color from yellow, white, pink or purple.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your terrestrial Utricularia you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand or perlite. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing.
Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant. Aquatic Utricularia's can be grown floating in a tank of water on a window sill or in a pond.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Utricularia dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit your terrestrial Utricularia in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter don’t let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. We dont fertilise our Utricularia.

LIGHT: Utricularia's require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

HUMIDITY: Utricularia’s like a bit of humidity. A terrarium or glasshouse will provide this. But a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Utricularia will go into their dormancy period. They will stop growing. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers.

 

HELIAMPHORA (SUN PITCHERS)

Heliamphora's grow on mountain tops called tepuis in Venezuela, South America.
They have vase like pitchers which trap insects.
They can catch flies, mosquitos, wasps and crawling insects such as slaters and ants.
They flower in spring
.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Heliamphora you should use Sphagnum moss. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it.
The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing. Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Heliamphora dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way.  We feed with Seasol. To one litre of water, put 4 ml of Seasol.
DO NOT use any other fertilisers.  We use this mix every 8 weeks from Spring to Autumn either watered onto the growing medium, or poured into the water tray beneath the pot. 

LIGHT: Heliamphora's require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

HUMIDITY: Heliamphora's grow in high humidity. You can create humidity by placing a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month.  A terrarium or glasshouse will provide enough warmth, or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Heliamphora will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

 

BROCCHINIA REDUCTA (BROMILIAD)

Brocchinia's grow on the planes of Venezuela, South America.
The leaves form a vase like shape and are the only ones in the Bromiliad family that digest the prey that drown in the rain water of their vase.
They can catch such insects as flies, mosquitos, wasps, slugs, slaters and ants.
They are cool growing.

REPOTTING: When re-potting your Brocchinia you should use a mixture of 75% Sphagnum peat moss and 25% propagating sand, perlite or orchid bark. Wet this mix thoroughly through first before potting your plant into it. The best time to re-pot is in the spring when the plants are doing most of their growing.
Use a pot to suit the size of the plant, giving it enough room to grow for the following year, but not too big that it dwarfs the plant.

WATERING: Do not ever let your Brocchinia dry out. During Spring, Summer and Autumn sit it in a saucer of water, changing the water frequently. The water should cover the drainage holes of the pot. If your water is good enough to drink straight from the tap, then this is alright to use on your plant. If not you should use either rain, distilled or reverse osmosis water. In winter do not let the plant dry out but don’t leave it sitting in water all the time.

FERTILIZING: Do not fertilize with flies or insects. You will end up killing your plant this way. We dont feed our Brochinia.

LIGHT: Brocchinia's require a high level of light. A window sill inside the house that gets morning sun in summer and afternoon sun in winter is an excellent position. Otherwise you can grow them in a terrarium, greenhouse, glasshouse or porch.

HUMIDITY: Brocchinias’s like humidity. The easiest way to create humidity is to place a tray of water under the pot filled with pebbles. The tray underneath nepenthes should be twice the area of the pot, and the pebbles should be porous i.e. scoria, so that they absorb the water and create humidity. Change the water in the tray every month.  A terrarium or glasshouse or a warm sunny window sill will give you enough heat for the plant to survive.

DORMANCY: During winter your Brocchinia will go into their dormancy period. They will slow down in growth. Do not worry. This is a natural occurrence and the plant must go through this period in order to stay alive and gain strength to grow their spring traps and flowers. Cut off any dead leaves/pitchers at the base of the plant. In spring the plants will send up their new leaves/pitchers.

 

 

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

SCALE
Scale is a small, usually black shelled insect that lives on many plants,
including sarracenias. They suck on the leaves and secret out a honey like
dew from their back ends, which then attracts ants to this dew, so you end
up with an ant problem as well. You can treat it in two ways, either use a
product called Malathon, which should be available at most nurseries. Or
simply cut off the infected traps and throw them away. You will find that
during late autumn and early winter the sarracenia traps will be dying back
anyway to go into dormancy, so this is the easiest and cheapest way to get
rid of scale.

FUNGUS
The black mould that occurs on some carnivorous plants, including
sarracenias is fungus. You might get a bit of fungus over winter when the
plants remain wet from watering, rain etc, and the weather is not warm
enough to dry them off. Also if the plants are grown close together, and
there is not much air movement between them. A product called Fongarid,
again available at most nurseries should clear the plants of this, or again
just cut off the infected traps, especially during winter.

We actually go through all of our Sarracenia houses during early winter
and cut off all sarracenia traps, not sparing a thing. This gets rid of fungus
and scale, and cleans the plants of all their old traps which will die at some
stage over winter.  It allows the plants to have a good resting period over
winter, before they put all their effort into growing new traps for spring.

Sulphur based fungicides are alright to use on carnivorous plants.
Copper based fungicides are deadly to carnivorous plants.                                                  

APHIDS
In spring, watch for aphids, a small green insect which loves to chew on
new sarracenia leaves, making them distorted when they grow. A good
'House and Garden' type aerosol spray will kill aphid, but don't spray too
close to the plant. Spray up and let the spray waft down, as aerosols can
freeze the plants. You may have to have a few goes to get rid of all aphids,
as they are actually born pregnant, so their life cycle is quick.

DORMANCY                                                                                                                         
If you live in parts of the world where it is always warm and humid, and
you never really get a cold winter, you will have to make your carnivorous
plants, especially Sarracenias and Dionaeas, go into a forced dormancy
period each winter. Do this by un-potting them (if you don't have room for
the pots) and lay them in the bottom or crisper section (where you would
keep lettuce and tomatoes) of your fridge. You can loosely wrap the roots
in plastic to keep the fridge clean. And don't forget to keep the name tags
with the correct plants.   You will probably need to re-pot them in spring
anyway, so it is not a waste of time un-potting them.  Don't put them in the
freezer or at the top of the fridge where it is colder. They need to stay in
the fridge for about 6-8 weeks during mid winter. You can cut all the
leaves/traps off your sarracenias before putting in the fridge, as these will
die back anyway.

T.D.S.                                                                                                                                         
T.D.S. is Total Dissolved Solids (or Salts).  Equivalent Conductivity, or EC,
is a measure of the total dissolved salts (T.D.S.) in a solution.  It is measured
by a T.D.S. hand held, battery operated, water proof tool called a
truncheon.  The peat moss must be tested for T.D.S., but this is a difficult
thing to do.   So you must test the water instead, once it has been sitting in
the peat moss. T.D.S. should be as near to 0 as possible.  Take the T.D.S. of
the water you will be using before starting and record the result.  Wet the
peat moss thoroughly, let sit for 2 hours, squash the water out of the
bottom of the pot, then take the reading of the water again with a
nutrients salt meter, or an electro conductivity meter (EC).
The reading for carnivorous plants EC must be no more than 0.5 or 40 parts
per million.  We have had a lot of trouble with peat moss coming in all
ready highly contaminated with salts. New Zealand peat moss seems to be
fairly good, Canadian peat moss is very good. We use one called "Canadian
TEEM peat moss".
Coco peat, sedge peat and Lignum peat are very high in salt and are not
good.
Do not use soil, you must use sphagnum peat moss.
To be a carnivorous plant grower, you must have a T.D.S. meter, as you
will always need to use it. They are available at most hydroponic shops.

WATER
We water our plants from underneath all year round.  They are in large benches that hold water, so we fill the benches up with water, and once it has gone we might wait a day or two and then fill them up again.  During this time without water, the peat is still moist. Over winter, the days without water in the trays might be extended to 3-4, but the peat is still moist.  We gauge it a bit by the feeling of the peat and the weather ie if it is going to be an extremely hot summers day, then we make sure they have water. We never water from overhead, except for the first time when we pot them, and then this is more to wash off any excess peat on the pot or traps. From then on, they are always watered from underneath, and we have found that since moving premises 7 years ago and switching to this method from overhead sprinklers, we are not spreading weed seeds and liverwort pollens as the water splashes.

Most tap water around the world is deadly to carnivorous plants because
of the high levels of salt it contains.  Most people need to collect rain
water or buy distilled water. Test the water that you use on your plants.
If it is too alkaline, or contains salts, then this is not good. This must be
fixed before it is used on the plants. A pH meter will do this. The pH
should be neutral, which is about 6-7.
For people living in hot climates, the biggest problem in growing
carnivorous plants would be water quality, not the climate.  They will
not tolerate bore water due to the salt, iron, minerals etc. in the
water.  As long as you get the water quality right, people living in
hot climates could grow sarracenias, dionaea muscipulas, droseras etc.
with a bit of protection.

TERRARIUMS
If you want to plant your carnivorous plants in a terrarium, you may
consider putting some sort of scoria pebbles or washed pebbles in the
bottom of the tank to give the water somewhere to escape the roots
of the plants so that they do not get too boggy.
It is really trial and error as to what plants to use, depending on your
climate and the position you put the tank in, what will grow.
Sarracenias like a lot of air movement, otherwise they tend to get
fungus and scale, so may not be suitable for your terrarium, however
purpureas might be alright.  Cephalotus also like a lot of air movement.
Most of the Droseras on our web site should survive well, as will the
Utricularias and Dionaeas.  This is, if you are going to use sphagnum
peat moss as your mix.  If you want to do the tank in sphagnum moss
(not sphagnum peat moss), they you could try a highland Nepenthes,
Pinguiculas, Darlingtonias and maybe even a Heliamphora.

 

This Page was last updated on Friday, 18 December 2015