Sundew Plant Care: A Fascinating Delight for Plant Lovers

If you’re a plant enthusiast, you may find some plants fascinating not only because of their appearance but also because of their unique behavior. Sundew plants belong to this category. With around 170 species of carnivorous or meat-eating plants, sundews have a captivating way of acquiring nutrients through carnivory. They trap their prey using specialized structures, such as plant hairs or sticky substances, digest them, and use the nutrients to thrive. This adaptive behavior allows them to survive in nutrient-deficient soils like bogs.

In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of sundew species. Whether you’re interested in caring for sundews as indoor plants or outdoor plants, we have some interesting facts and essential tips to share with you.

Sundew Plant Care, Plantly

Sundew Plant Care Basics

Caring for carnivorous plants like sundews may require some additional effort. While sundews naturally thrive in places with unfavorable conditions, growing them indoors presents a different set of challenges. But fret not! We have compiled important care tips to ensure your sundew plants lead a happy life.

Wet and Acidic Potting Soil Mix is Essential

One crucial aspect to consider when planting sundews indoors is to mimic their natural habitat. Sundews, or drosera, thrive in consistently moist and nutrient-deficient environments. To recreate these conditions, you can create a soil mixture with high water retention by combining one part peat moss with one part sand or perlite. Organic matter is not necessary as sundews obtain nutrients by preying on insects. Remember, the more acidic the soil, the better.

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Full or Partial Sunlight is Vital

Sundews flourish in areas with full to partial indirect sunlight. Choosing a location near a light source, such as a sunny windowsill, is ideal. While most plants thrive under natural sunlight, supplementing with artificial light may be necessary at times. However, striking a balance is crucial. Excessive exposure to direct sunlight can result in burned or faded sundew leaves. It’s worth noting that varying light conditions can impact sundew size and color. More light produces vibrant red color but smaller leaves, while less light yields larger but paler leaves.

Ample Water for Optimal Growth

Creating and maintaining a moist environment is vital for successful sundew growth. These plants thrive under wet conditions, and it’s crucial to ensure their water requirements are met consistently. The tray method is a recommended technique. Fill a tray with 1-1 ½ inches of water and submerge the potted plants. Refill the tray when the water level is low, ensuring that your sundew plants never dry out. Use mineral-free or distilled water to prevent the presence of minerals or chemicals that may hinder growth.

Warm Temperatures and High Humidity Promote Growth

Sundews thrive in warm temperatures between 61-75°F (16-24°C). This temperature range aids plant growth and promotes the production of dew in carnivorous plants. Optimal temperature conditions result in more prominent dew production due to increased transpiration. However, some sundews require cooler temperatures to produce dew. To create an ideal environment, maintain a humidity level of 40 to 60% around your sundew plants. Placing them in moist areas or using a water tray can help increase humidity when growing them indoors.

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Insects: The Best Source of Fertilizer

Unlike traditional plants, sundews do not thrive in nutrient-rich soil. In fact, additional fertilizers can harm these carnivorous plants. Instead, sundews obtain their necessary nutrients from their prey, primarily insects. It is important to feed your sundew plants with insects, especially when grown indoors where natural prey may be scarce. Crushed betta fish pellets can also serve as an alternative nutrient source. Sprinkle the pellets over your sundews and let the dew do the catching.

Propagation through Leaf or Flower Stalk Cuttings

Propagating sundews is relatively easy using leaf or flower stalk cuttings. Simply cut a whole or a portion of a leaf or flower stalk and place it on moist sphagnum moss or peat moss. Within two weeks to two months, these cuttings will develop young plantlets. Transplant these young sundews into a new container or try water propagation as an alternative method.

Preferred Growing Zones

Many sundew species thrive in USDA Zones 9 and above.

Repot and Prune as Needed

When your carnivorous plant outgrows its pot, it’s time for repotting. Follow these steps for successful repotting:

  1. Choose a pot that is approximately 2 inches larger than the previous one.
  2. Fill the container with 3/4 of the prepared growing medium, reserving the remaining potting mix.
  3. Using gloves, remove the sundew from its current container, trim unhealthy roots, and repot it in the new container.
  4. Fill any gaps with the remaining growing medium, ensuring the plant is well-supported and the roots are covered.
  5. Water the plant thoroughly and place it in partial shade.
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Pruning is not necessary for sundews. Simply trim dead or diseased leaves as needed.

Sundew Species and Similar Plants

Sundews belong to the Drosera family and are one of the largest genera within it. With numerous species to choose from, here are a few examples:

Drosera capensis

Drosera capensis

Also known as cape sundew, Drosera capensis is an evergreen perennial carnivorous plant known for its sturdy structure and well-developed roots. It produces pink-mauve flowers on a single stem.

Drosera pulchella

Drosera pulchella

Native to Southwestern Australia, Drosera pulchella is smaller in size with unique flowers. What sets these pygmy sundews apart is the production of “gemmae” on their crown, which are reproductive bodies that can be readily used for propagation.

Drosera rotundifolia

Drosera rotundifolia

Drosera rotundifolia, also known as round-leafed sundew, is named for its round, flat leaves. This species features purple coverings or hairs and small pink or white flowers. Compared to cape sundews, they have a shallow root system and a shorter lifespan.

Sundew Plant Diseases & Pests

Despite their ability to feed on insects, sundews are not immune to infestations. Aphids and fungus gnats are common pests that can affect sundews. Spraying them off with distilled bottled water or using neem oil can help eliminate these pests.

Regarding diseases, botrytis and root rot can be common problems. While sundews thrive in wet soil conditions, excessive moisture can invite disease-causing organisms. Applying fungicides may help combat these issues.

Sundews are truly captivating plants that add a touch of intrigue to any collection. With proper care and attention, these unique carnivorous plants can thrive, providing a fascinating experience for plant lovers.

To learn more about sundew plants and explore a wide selection, visit the Ames Farm Center.