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Growing guides

Dionaea muscipula and Sarracenia

 

Venus fly trap and Sarracenia plant, are quite easy to grow. There are only few requirements for these carnivorous plants to thrive: acidic soil, wet roots, and full sunlight. They tend to grow faster and do well under a broader range of conditions.

 

They grows well in pure Sphagnum moss (live or from dried), pure Sphagnum peat - acid, and the standard 1:1 peat:sand or peat:perlite . Sow seeds on the surface of your medium of choice. The seeds of most CP species do best if the seed is not buried !. The soil should be saturated with only pure distilled water or rainwater.

I lightly spray the seeds with water and put the pots in plastic zip-lock bags .

 

VFT and Sarracenia seeds needs a damp cold stratification for 4 weeks before they will germinate. For plants to be kept outside it is best to start the seed in the fall if you plan to keep the seedlings under lights the first winter or plant in late winter if they will be put outside in late spring. If you live in an area where Sarracenia or Darlingtonia grow naturally, consider starting the seed in pots outside during the winter.

After stratification a temperature between 20°C to 25°C (70°F to 80°F) works best. After the seedlings get a few true leaves (the ones with traps), remove the pots from the plastic bags and move them to bright terrarium or greenhouse.

 

If you live in USDA zone 8 or warmer, as much as possible, try to grow your larger seedlings and mature plants outside. They will grow best in full sun if you live in an area that is humid or cool in the summer. If where you live is hot and dry, full morning sun and then part shade is appreciated.

 

In USDA zone 7 it is problematic growing Dionaea outside without a heated greenhouse but it can be done. During the winter, if the temperatures don't stay below freezing for more than a week at a time you can keep the plants outside fully exposed to the rain and snow unless there is an early or late freeze. The plants will survive being frozen solid for a week or longer if they are fully dormant. If they are not fully dormant, freezing weather can kill them. When the plants are being overly protected or have started to grow and then get frozen they are easily killed. Do not let them dry out as the biggest danger is freeze-drying.

 

In very cold climates (USDA zone 6 and colder) the plants will require substantial protection if grown outside. It may be best to put the plants in a heated greenhouse, a south facing window of a garage, or cover them with a foot of straw or pine needles during the winter. Although it is probably a good idea to supplement the light if you have the plants in a garage window during the winter I do not recommend bringing them into the house or basement and putting them under lights for the winter. It will get them out of sync with the seasons. It is better to just keep them indoors under lights all the time than to switch back and forth.

 

What appears to be most important in growing Dionaea and Sarracenia indoors under lights long term is that they get enough natural morning light to get their seasonal cues. You can accomplish this by having them in a room that gets good sunlight around sunrise.

 

Dionaea and Sarracenia is very picky about it's food.  It only likes live insects or spiders. The food needs to be alive to provide the proper stimulation for the leaf to close fully and begin digestion. Outside, the plants may catch all the insects they need although it won't hurt to feed it live insects or spiders by hand.

 

Drosera

 

Many subtropical and tropical Drosera species are easy to grow from seed.

Sundews are basically living pieces of flypaper. Their tentacle-like leaves secrete a tiny sticky droplet that is capable of catching insects to stick to them. Most sundews grow well in sphagnum peat moss mixed with a little sand. Soil should be kept constant damp and never be allowed to dry out. Using the tray watering method (placing pot into a tray that contains about an inch of water) works well. Temperatures should be kept between 70°F to 95°F and humidity levels should be kept in between 50 to 95 percent.

 

There are many different species of sundews - some tropical and some temperate. Only some temperate species of sundew will require a dormant season. During the fall, these species will lose their summer foliage and develop small rosette leaves that look like small peas. Dormancy temperatures should be kept between 35°F to 45°F. They should be kept moist, but not be sitting in water. Keeping them in the refrigerator during this time works well.

 

Drosera species should do fine on a 50:50 peat and sand mix. Carnivorous plants have sensitive roots and should never be fertilized or planted in fertilized soil.

For the the more difficult subtropicals it may be better to use a layer of sterilized or live chopped sphagnum moss on top of the peat/sand mix or just increase the amount of sand in the top cm of soil. Some species also prefer to be in pure long fibered sphagnum. Try different growing mediums to see which are best for your plant under your conditions.

 

Sow your seeds by lightly sprinkling them evenly over the surface of the carnivorous plant soil.  You do not need to press them into the substrate or even cover them at all.

I lightly spray the seeds with water and put the pots in plastic zip-lock bags .

They germinate best with a little warmth, 25°C (80°F) is perfect.

Many carnivorous seeds are easy to grow and should sprout in 3 to 4 weeks, but some species can germinated after almost 1 year.

Carnivorous plants require lots of bright light, preferably on a windowsill that faces the south. In terrariums, cool white fluorescent bulbs should be used, as incandescent bulbs will produce too much heat.

 

All time try to learn as much as you can about the ecology of the species before starting the seeds. Some carnivorous plants are summer-growing, others are winter-growing, many don't care about seasons as long as it is the right temperature. Some seeds require a period of damp cold conditions before they will germinate. Other seeds may require treatment with smoke or hormones. Some species like growing in sphagnum moss while others prefer a peat and sand mix.

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